Skip to content

┼Mary Ellenbecker Johnson Awarded the Posthumous Armor of Light Award

┼Mary Ellenbecker Johnson Awarded the Posthumous Armor of Light Award

The Armor of Light Award honors individuals who have demonstrated dedication and continued service to their faith, community, and Saint John’s Prep. The Armor of Light Award was created in 1977 by the Saint John’s Prep Alumni/ae Association as a way of recognizing and honoring individuals who have demonstrated dedication and continued service to their faith, community and Saint John’s Prep. Alumni/ae, faculty, parents and friends nominate candidates for the award.

+Mary Ellenbecker Johnson

Before passing in July 2017, Mary served our school as a biology teacher, coach and mentor. Saint John’s Prep recognizes Mary for her unwavering support of our students, alumni/ae and staff. Whether she was driving across the state with her championship Envirothon teams or happily greeting our alumni/ae at the Legacy Dinner, her dedication and compassion for the people of Saint John’s Prep was evident in everything she did.
Mary Ellenbecker Johnson passed away in 2017. For almost 20 years, Mary taught Biology at the Prep School as well as volunteering her imagination and talent as costumer for many Prep plays and musicals. Mary’s classes were rigorous, always exciting and in addition she had the special gift of peaking students’ curiosity and creativity. Living out the Benedictine value of stewardship, Mary was a passionate and committed environmentalist.

Passing on this passion to her students was a joy for Mary. She guided her Envirothon Science team to three state titles. Mary treasured her time gardening, both at her home and at the Prep School. She founded the Saint John’s Prep Garden, which continues to be tended by students in her honor behind the school.

She was a founding member of the Minnesota Street Market in St. Joseph which was a way for her to encourage area citizens to support local farmers and artists. She led an annual Thanksgiving food drive that helped feed hundreds of families in need via the St. Joseph Food Bank.

Mary’s husband of 36 years, Charlie, received this posthumous award in her honor. Charlie Johnson is a proud member of the Class of 1971. Their son, Ben, is a member of the Class of 2000.
Mary’s legacy of stewardship and love of the environment continues through her family, friends and the hundreds of Prep students who were blessed to have her as their teacher.

Headmaster Fr. Jonathan Licari, OSB with Ben Johnson ’00 and Charlie Johnson ’71

Mary’s unwavering passion to educate her students, friends and colleagues about caring for our planet remains an inspiration for us all. The words a friend used to nominate her certainly ring true:
“Her passion for caring for our world was a challenge for all of us. She always challenge us to be as dedicated to her passion as she was. Her wit and intelligence brought joy and humor to every classroom and project. Mary simply wanted us to do our best and be our best.”

Charlie Johnson ’71 accepted the award on Mary’s behalf. He spoke to the Saint John’s Prep Class of 2018 graduates and their families at a reception and awards ceremony on May 25. He was also on hand to congratulate the graduates after they received their diplomas during the commencement ceremony on May 26, 2018 in the Saint John’s Abbey Church.