July 24, 2023 – Fr. James F. Joyce, SJ, was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Aug. 22, 1945, to John and Marie (O’Dea) Joyce. He graduated from St. Saviour Elementary School and then Regis High School. During his high school years, he picked up the life-long nickname “B” and, as he would be proud to tell you, he “worked as a laborer for the NYC Department of Water Supply, Gas & Electricity.” Right after high school Fr. Joyce entered the Society of Jesus in 1963 at St. Andrew-on-Hudson where he did his novitiate and juniorate, followed by Philosophy studies for one year at Loyola Seminary, Shrub Oak, N.Y., and two years at St. Louis University (1963-69). He did his regency at St. Peter’s Prep in Jersey City teaching history and coaching sports (1969-72). During this time, he also earned a master’s degree in American Studies at Seton Hall University.
Fr. Joyce went on to study theology, first at Woodstock College in New York, and then, when Woodstock closed, to Regis College in Toronto, Canada (1972-75). After ordination to the priesthood in 1975, Fr. Joyce’s first assignment was to direct retreats at Mount Manresa on Staten Island (1975-77). Next came tertianship in Ireland (1977-78), where he also worked for peace, social justice and reconciliation though the Glencree Reconciliation Centre, and became filled with zeal for peace in Ireland. After tertianship Fr. Joyce returned to New York where he worked at Covenant House in Manhattan (1978-81). He took his final vows in 1979 in the Covenant House Chapel.
After Covenant House, Fr. Joyce spent a year as an associate at St. Ignatius Parish in Brooklyn while working as part-time chaplain at Kings County Hospital (1981-82). For two years then he lived at the Nativity Mission Center Rectory and was the province director of social ministries, representing the province on social justice issues and serving as prison chaplain first at Riker’s Island and then “The Tombs” (1982-84). Fr. Joyce spent the next six years (1984-90) in the Bronx as the local superior at the Manida St. Jesuit Community in Hunt’s Point where he continued as province director of social ministries and for a year (1988-89) was the director of “The Jesuit Office.”
In 1990, Fr. Joyce was named president of St. Peter’s Prep in Jersey City. Then in 1994, he had a working sabbatical with the Jesuit Refugee Service in West Africa: Liberia, Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire. In 1995, Fr. Joyce moved back to the Nativity Mission Center while he served as Provincial Assistant for Social and Pastoral Ministry (1995-99). In 1999 he headed to Western, N.Y., for a stint at St. Ann’s Parish in Buffalo, which included his being the founding President of the Nativity/San Miguel School there (1999-2008). Then after a year’s sabbatical at Fordham’s Loyola Hall (2008-09), Fr. Joyce became the Superior at Murray-Weigel Hall, the Jesuit Health Care Residence in the Bronx (2009-2012). From the Bronx, he headed to Baltimore where for the next four years he was chaplain at Mercy Medical Center (2012-16). From Baltimore Jim traveled to Kingston, Jamaica, where he filled in as pastor at St. Annie’s Parish for a year (2016-17).
Health concerns brought Fr. Joyce back to the province in 2017, for a short time at Campion Center, Weston, Mass., and then to the Murray-Weigel-Kohlmann Jesuit Community in the Bronx. Fr. Joyce continued his life-long commitment to social justice issues while praying for the Church and the Society of Jesus. Declining health forced him to move from Kohlmann Hall to Murray-Weigel Hall in 2021 where he boldly battled pancreatic cancer until his peaceful death on July 21, 2023. May he now rest from his labors in peace with Jesus whom he served so very well.