A priest with ties all over the Hudson Valley lost his battle with COVID.

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Father Carl D. Johnson died Friday evening, Feb. 5, in the HealthAlliance Kingston Hospital from complications from COVID-19. Fr. Johnson was the pastor of the joined parishes of Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Port Ewen and Sacred Heart in Esopus in Ulster County.

He was ordained a priest in the Archdiocese of New York in Dec. 1978 by His Eminence Terence Cardinal Cooke, and went on to serve first as a deacon in Regina Coeli parish in Hyde Park, and later as a priest at Good Shepherd in Rhinebeck, St. John the Evangelist in Mahopac, Sacred Heart in Monroe, and St. Augustine in New City before moving to Presentation in 2012.

“The wonder of being a priest is the opportunity to be welcomed into a family at times of sorrow, tragedy and grief, and at other times to lead celebrations of happiness," he said when he left Sacred Heart in Monroe in 2012, according to his obituary.

During his tenure, he was a member of the Archdiocese Priests Senate under His Eminence John Cardinal O’Connor, and he served as Chaplain for the Orange County Police Chiefs’ Association, as well as chaplain of the Mahopac Falls Fire Dept. during his time in Mahopac. He was dedicated to the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO). In addition, he was a member of the Knights of Columbus and other organizations.

Fr. Johnson was a graduate of Our Lady of Victory School in Mount Vernon, and Blessed Sacrament High School and Iona College in New Rochelle. After receiving his Bachelor’s Degree in religious studies from Iona in 1974, he entered St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers.

Fr. Carl, as he was known, was passionate about serving the people of the Archdiocese in the Hudson Valley, and enjoyed getting away to his family home in Livingston, NY, and spending time with his five siblings and their families. As a priest, he was known as a strong leader, parish builder and creative organizer dedicated to his parishioners, always showing his good sense humor and giving wonderful homilies. He loved to travel with friends, family and parishioners, and made trips across the U.S. and overseas–to Ireland, France, Italy, the Vatican, Russia, the Holy Land, and Australia.

During his life, he met and served two people who would become saints. In 1981, he was appointed a clergy security liaison for Pope John Paul II during his trip to New York, staying with the Holy Father in the chancery for a couple days; and earlier, as a student, he met Mother Theresa and accepted her challenge of creating and donating prayer booklets for her sisters.

With COVID considerations, a private family mass was held at his church followed by burial in Columbia County. If COVID allows, there will be a memorial service sometime in the future, officials say.

Johnson is survived by his five siblings. He was beloved “Uncle Carl” to 13 nieces and nephews, 18 grandnieces and grandnephews, and one great-grandniece, his obituary states.

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