Ed Johnston, Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia & Sisters of Charity of Nazareth Slated for Spirit of Service Award

Posted 10/05/2015

Longtime community volunteer and former Father Ryan High School instructor Ed Johnston, the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia, and the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth will be honored with the Spirit of Service Award on Wednesday, October 21, at the 2015 Celebration of Mission to Service.

The Celebration, a benefit for Catholic Charities of Tennessee and Saint Mary Villa Child Development Center, will be held from 5:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. at Hillwood Country Club.

"The Spirit of Service Award is presented to individuals who or groups that have been significant contributors to the well-being of the clients served by Catholic Charities and Saint Mary Villa and reflect the agencies' values of love, goodwill, kindness, learning and laughter," said Bill Sinclair, Catholic Charities of Tennessee executive director.

"Ed Johnston truly personifies these values," he added. "The Spirit of Service Award recognizes his multifaceted service to the local community, especially the local Catholic community, and to the world-at-large."

Johnston led Nashville's first high school-based service trips to Haiti while on the Father Ryan staff from 1962-1972. Students from Father Ryan, St. Cecilia Academy, and Saint Bernard Academy (then a high school) participated in the trips.

"Ed, both as a priest and as a lay person was someone you knew God was speaking to," explained Philip Mattingly, a former student and long time friend. "The way he has lived his life proved he was listening."

"In a very special way, the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia and the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth also embody these values," Sinclair continued. "These two communities collectively administered St. Mary's Orphanage for more than 100 years of the existence just off of White Bridge Road."

"The Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia are grateful to be honored with the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth for the service given by our communities at Nashville's St. Mary's Orphanage and St. Mary Villa," said Mother Ann Marie Karlovic, O.P. "In every period of our history as a religious community, a ‘mission to service' in the name of Christ has given life and direction to our religious consecration."

"Our history at St. Cecilia's is especially marked by our service at St. Mary's Orphanage. The story of the beginning years of our community is intertwined with the early story of St. Mary's and its children. It is a story of love and self-giving - the kind of love that protects and nurtures life, and is sensitive to the person; the love that has a heart for the suffering ones among us, and a heart for the child."

"We thank God for the blessing of our 90+ years of service at St. Mary's Orphanage, and for the all of the children there who, over the years, taught us to give ourselves in love," she concluded.

Sister Susan Gatz, SCN, president of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, shared similar sentiments for her Kentucky-based community. "The Sisters of Charity of Nazareth are honored to have been selected for the Spirit of Service Award."

"Our charism is to serve with love and compassion as Jesus did, so receiving a service award brings us great joy," she explained. "We are grateful to have been a small part of the 114 year history of service to children in need that was offered first by the Dominican Sisters at St. Mary's Orphan Asylum and then by our sisters at the newly built and renamed, St. Mary's Villa. For 11 years our sisters cared for children there."

"We now hold Catholic Charities and Saint Mary Villa Child Development Center in prayer and wish them every blessing as they look to the future and find new ways to serve children and families in the Nashville diocese," she added.

For information on tickets, go to the Catholic Charities of Tennessee website for the Celebration of Mission to Service page ( or contact Mark Barry ( or 615-352-3087).

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Nashville, TN 37214
Office: (615) 352-3087
Fax: (615) 352-8591

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