Dominican Sister of Peace Johanna Eberly (87) died at Mohun Health Care Center, Columbus, OH, on March 9, 2017. She was born in 1929 in Columbus, OH. In 1949 she entered the Dominican Sisters of St. Mary of the Springs, now the Dominican Sisters of Peace.
All of Sr. Johanna’s grade and high school years were spent at St. Mary of the Springs Academy. After her graduation her mother wanted her daughter to experience a wider world and so sent her to Ohio State for the first year of college. However, she returned to St. Mary of the Springs (now Ohio Dominican University) where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Music Education. She also earned a Master of Arts in Music from Ohio State University.
Her 45-year teaching career included one year in Pennsylvania, four years in New York, and the remaining years in Ohio. She served as principal at St. Philip’s in Columbus, Holy Trinity in Somerset, and Sacred Heart in Coshocton, the same school where her teaching career began.
When Sr. Johanna assumed the role of principal in Coshocton, the parents and school board members were fearful that the school would need to close. However, under her leadership, the enrollment increased 28%. In 1991 the Diocesan Superintendent of Schools, Mike Coury, nominated Sr. Johanna for the National Catholic Education Association Distinguished Principal Award. In a supporting letter one of the teachers wrote, “In a very firm, but unassuming manner, she has used her years of experience and her leadership to pump life back into our ailing school. She gently nudges us to excel.”
Sr. Johanna synthesized her own philosophy of education, saying, “Teachers are at the heart of the school and are what makes it tick. My style of leadership is to allow teachers to be free to develop their own unique style of teaching and their special gifts.”
Sr. Johanna’s musical talents were a gift to the community, both when she played the organ in chapel and also when she served as cantor. In her younger years, her musical gift was recognized when she was one of five persons chosen by the Columbus Diocese to sing with the 1000 voice national choir at the 1976 Philadelphia Eucharistic Congress.
Family was important to Sr. Johanna. She lost her brothers to cancer at relatively young ages and helped keep her numerous nieces and nephews united by hosting an annual picnic for them.
Sr. Johanna was preceded in death by her parents, Francis Eberly and Katharine Gaughran Eberly, and her brothers Francis, John and Michael. She is survived by her beloved nieces and nephews.
The Vigil of Remembrance and the Mass of Christian Burial were held on March 13 and 14 at the Dominican Sisters Motherhouse in Columbus, OH. Burial followed at St. Joseph Cemetery.
Memorial gifts in Sr. Johanna’s memory may be submitted securely online or mailed to the Dominican Sisters of Peace, Office of Mission Advancement, 2320 Airport Dr. Columbus, OH 43219.