Brother John Johnston, FSC (1933-2007), became known and highly respected for his great competence and influential leadership style. Time and again, he was asked to address special religious conferences, and in many groups he joined, he assumed leadership responsibilities, including Vice President of the Union of Superiors General in Rome, Auditor for the Synod of Priestly Formation and Consultant for the Vatican Congregation for Consecrated Life.
His special passion was the evolving Lasallian Mission, the transformation from Brothers’ schools to Lasallian schools. Brother John made it clear as he spoke to his listeners “that lay partners and the Brothers collaborate as members of an educational community that has responsibility for the life and mission of the school.” He was instrumental in developing leadership programs for the laity who were active in Lasallian schools. In addition, Brother John was a strong proponent of children’s rights. In January of 1999 Brother John published one of many pastoral letters entitled “The Defense of Children, the Reign of God, and the Lasallian Mission.” In it he called Lasallians to contribute to the construction of an “international communion of persons in which all children can live as the children they have a right to be.”
Brother John had an illustrious career as a De La Salle Christian Brother that spanned 56 years. He began his schooling at Little Flower School in Memphis, TN, attended Christian Brothers College, now Christian Brothers High School (CBHS), and took his college course of study at St. Mary’s College, Winona, MN. He was a high school teacher, school administrator, and Director of Student Brothers in the legacy St. Louis District. In 1971, Brother John was appointed Provincial of the St. Louis District of the Brothers of the Christian Schools (which included his hometown of Memphis); in 1976, he became Vicar General of the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools in Rome, and in 1986, he became the Superior General of the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools throughout the world. As Superior General, Brother John oversaw the Christian Brothers who were working in the 81 countries in which the Brothers and Lasallian Partners conduct schools, colleges and other educational and social service centers.
Brother John returned to the USA in 2001 to be the Regional Director of Education. In 2003, he returned to Memphis where he continued his involvement in education as Senior Consultant, Lasallian Association for Mission at Christian Brothers Conference. He conducted retreats and was a presenter at many educational conferences in the United States, Haiti, Africa, and in Europe. Brother John Johnston passed away in Memphis on October 11, 2007 at the age of 73.