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Mary Johnson-Roy Legacy Fund

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Mary Johnson-Roy, a life-long resident of North Minneapolis, faithfully contributed to her community for decades. Her inspiring story of forgiveness and service, especially through facilitating healing groups for mothers grieving the loss of children to homicide, earned her the respect of people around the world. Mary received many awards and recognitions for her work, including being a recipient of KARE 11’s “Eleven Who Care” award and being declared a “Hero Among Us” by People Magazine.

On March 27, 2024, Mary went home to her God after a 4-year journey with Lewy body dementia. This fund originally established to help with medical expenses is now being used for expenses related to her Celebration of Life and burial as well as to support her on-going legacy through a variety of projects that honor her story and advance her important work in the world of restorative justice, healing, and forgiveness. We appreciate your donations. If you would prefer to contribute off-line, please send a check made out to “Mary Johnson-Roy Legacy Fund” to the St Jane House (1403 Emerson Ave. N., Minneapolis, MN 55411).

Mary's Celebration of Life will take place on Saturday, April 13 at 11am at Shiloh Temple in North Minneapolis. It will also be live-streamed, including in all Minnesota prisons. Learn more in her obituary.

Matt McKinney of the Star Tribune wrote a beautiful tribute to her that was published on Sunday April 7.

More about Mary’s Story
For decades, Mary served her community as a volunteer while working at the Bell Telephone Company, her church, and later PYC School in North Minneapolis. The tragic murder in 1993 of her only child, Laramiun Byrd, sent her on a path no mother ever wants to go on. Yet Mary courageously embarked on this journey which ultimately led her to forgive O’Shea Israel, the young man who took her son’s life, and embrace him as her spiritual son. If you have a seven minutes, listen to this POWERFUL StoryCorps interview featuring Mary, O’Shea, and her husband Ed that aired on NPR in Sept. 2023.

Mary transformed her unfathomable pain and loss into light and love for her city and the world. She did this in response to a spiritual calling on her life to bring mothers on both sides of the tragedy of homicide together for healing.

In 2005, Mary founded From Death to Life, a nonprofit organization to facilitate her work and get her message of the power of forgiveness out in the world. For 18 years, Mary led the Two Mothers Healing Group, providing comfort, support and healing for mothers who lost children to homicide. In a city where violence is sadly a daily reality, Mary and the mothers of her healing group have been a stand for peace, reconciliation, and restorative justice, which has led them to reach out and embrace mothers who have lost children to prison because of homicide.

Mary was invited to be a special guest at two global conferences on love and forgiveness by the Fetzer Institute in Assisi, Italy, and Aman, Jordan, where she met with the Prince of Jordan. She also met President Barack Obama who praised and thanked her for her service.

On January 3, 2015, Mary married the love of her life, Ed Roy. As a father who had lost his only son to homicide, Mary knew his pain. After nearly 10 years of walking beside one another as friends, they realized there was more going on between them, and Ed ask for her hand in marriage. This year, they celebrated their 9th anniversary, and they kept their vows to one another untll the very end.

Ed and Mary Johnson-Roy's engagement photo, Dec. 2014.

Her powerful story of forgiveness has attracted the attention of local, national, and global media organizations, inspiring countless people around the world. Mary appeared on the CBS Evening News, BBC, CNN, CBC, ABC’s The View, and local TV stations, as well as in numerous magazine and newspaper stories around the world. She was featured in the acclaimed documentary Risking Light and the book Beyond Belief. Links to these stories and more can be found on the From Death to Life page of the St Jane House website.

While her good work and generous act of forgiveness have been acknowledged and applauded by many, Mary consistently remained humble, giving all the glory to her God. She was treasured by the mothers who found healing in her loving embrace as well as others who had the privilege of knowing and working alongside her.

We are inspired by her extraordinary example of humble, selfless love, generosity, and service in our community and world.

If you wish to support Mary’s on-going Legacy of Love and Forgiveness through a variety of projects that honor her story and advance her important work in the world of restorative justice, healing, and forgiveness, please consider a gift to this campaign. If you would prefer to contribute off-line, checks can be made out to “Mary Johnson-Roy Memorial Fund” can be sent to:

St Jane House
1403 Emerson Ave. N.
Minneapolis, MN 55411

Thank you!

Mary’s Health Journey with Lewy body dementia
Mary and Ed courageously decided to share their about her health journey with the broader community in May of 2024 through a beautiful story by StarTribune features columnist, Laura Yuen.

Their story was also featured in a powerful 22-minute StoryCorps podcast released in December 2023.

From the organizer of this fundraiser:
I first met Mary in the spring of 2006 when she shared her powerful story of forgiveness at my church. A short while later, she invited me to become a board member of her From Death to Life nonprofit organization, a role I’ve had the honor of serving in for 16 years.

In 2008, my northside home became the St Jane House, an urban retreat center and house of hospitality sponsored by the nearby Visitation Monastery of Minneapolis. Shortly thereafter, we offered the St Jane House to Mary as a home base for From Death to Life. It is here that she has been hosting meetings and facilitating healing groups for mothers impacted by homicide almost every other Saturday morning for 16 years. Even with her health challenges, Mary continued to co-facilitate these groups with the assistance of her dear friend, Regina Irwin up until January 2024. Regina is now leading this group.

On behalf of all who hold Mary and Ed near and dear, it is my honor to have created this appeal to help them during their time of need, and now to honor her on-going legacy in the world.

Thank you for your support!

With a grateful heart,

Brian Mogren
St Jane House Director in Residence

On retreat with Mary and the mothers in the Two Mothers' Healing Groups.


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Brian Mogren
Minneapolis, MN

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