Bishop of London – 2 July 1957

Two final achievements must be mentioned. The more important to him was the completion of the original plans, when, in 1959, seven years after the Silver Jubilee and thirty-two years after being appointed Missioner in Kenton, he was able to see the Parish Hall built at St Mary’s. At last, all the permanent buildings had been erected, he felt his work was done. But he could not bear to leave it, and no one should wonder at so natural a feeling.

The second achievement occurred the previous year in fact, 1958. It was conveyed to him in a letter from Fulham Palace, dated (surely no accident?) 15 September 1958, which read:

‘Dear Johnson,
I write to ask if you will be good enough to accept a Prebendal Stall in our Cathedral Church. As you know, the duties are not onerous but your long and devoted service in the Diocese deserves this small honour, which I hope will be agreeable to you’.

30 years – 2 July 1957

The writer was, of course, the then Bishop of London, Henry Montgomery-Cambell, in whose gift the Prebends were. Fr Johnson accepted the honour, and was installed as Prebendary of Mora at All Saints-tide that year. Although he liked his title of Prebendary, and enjoyed preaching in the Cathedral he never wore the violet and crimson that were his right as a member of the Chapter (except that Sister made him wear, quite incorrectly, a violet pompom on his biretta), and this was significant both of his ideas as to what was important in life, and also of his failing interest in the things of this world. One can read into his last letters, if one wishes, a distinct connection between life, for F.R.J., and Kenton. Without Kenton he could not live. He was in a miserable plight, yet he refused to give up and carried on to the last. There was a shortage of Priests, he had only Fr Pilgrim, himself a retired man, to help him, and Sister. The last blow came when the Sisters had to be withdrawn because of other commitments at Laleham Abbey, which was now their Mother House. There were now no human supports, only his faith in Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. He resigned the living and resolved to go and live in York, near All Saints where he had learned the Faith as a boy. And it was in Yorkshire that he died. He was 71 years of age. He had been Vicar of Kenton, and before that Minister and Missioner, for over 37 years. There is a memorial stone to him near the Foundation Stone in St Mary’s, Kenton. It bears his name and that proudest of all titles ‘Priest’, and the best of epitaphs: ‘This church is his memorial’. Requiescat in pace.