Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Grouchily Retired Cancer Warrior Passes

Over the years, I have been fortunate to know many great leaders who are giving back to our world and truly making a difference. Yesterday, I received the sad news that one of those marvelous people, the Reverend Karen Johanns, had passed away. Saying that Mother Karen was a marvelous leader, is really an understatement.

By the time I met her, she had already moved from an earlier career in restaurant management and was pursuing ordination to the priesthood in the Episcopal Church. If ever there was someone suited for ministry, it was Karen Johanns. I had the privilege of being present when she became a deacon and from her active participation in church events, along with Claire Dodds, the woman who would become her wife, it was obvious she was going to make a difference. I'd love to give some examples here, but I invite you also to share any stories you know about her in the comments section below.

She ministered at a number of parishes and was loved by those congregations, but then along came cancer. Some would give up, but not Mother Karen. She waged an all out war against the invader with surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, and for more than two years thought that she might win, but it kept spreading. Just about a year ago, she retired on medical disability, but she kept telling her friends and all who would listen, that her fight was continuing. All along the way, she showed courage, grace, and love.  She referred to herself as a grouchily retired cancer warrior.

I heard her speak out against injustice on so many occasions and I heard her urge people to get involved. Back in July, she indicated that her days were numbered, and she activated her "bucket list" saying she wanted to give and raise as much money as possible to restore Black churches that burned earlier in the year. On her twitter account, she gave the URL where we can all do something: https://cccathedralstl.dntly.com/campaign/2571#/  In her memory, what could be a better thing to do?

An online memorial, which includes service information and also photographs, is available HERE. What a great joy it was to know this woman. May she rest in peace.

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