Biographies

Father John H. Joyce, MM

Born: June 29, 1910
Ordained: June 16, 1937
Died: October 13, 1994

Fr. John H. Joyce died at 7:00 PM on October 13, 1994 at St. Teresa’s Residence. He was 84 years old and a Maryknoll priest for 57 years.

John Hubert Joyce was born in the Bronx, New York, on June 29, 1910, the only son of Hugh J. and Sarah (Hastings) Joyce. He had three sisters. He graduated from Regis High School in June 1928, and attended Fordham University for three years and two years at St. Joseph Seminary, Dunwoodie, Yonkers, New York. He entered Maryknoll Society on November 22, 1933 and was ordained a priest on June 16, 1937 at Maryknoll, New York.

After ordination, Father Joyce was assigned to Maryknoll’s mission in Kongmoon, South China, where he served for 14 years except for two home furloughs. Being a very good student he quickly proved to be a well balanced missioner, endowed with common sense, delightful humor and a friendly way of working with people. While studying Cantonese language on Sancian Island at the small shrine that marks the spot where St. Francis Xavier died, Father Joyce developed a strong love for the Chinese people. He was very kind and understanding with the people who made a meager living off the land and had little leisure time to devote to the Church, and he became sincerely interested in improving their difficult livelihood. He served alone as pastor in the difficult mission composed of five villages for four years and experienced many grueling incidents with pirates, bandits and Japanese occupation soldiers. His story is written up in the book entitled The Meaning of Maryknoll.

Father Joyce remained in the Kongmoon mission all during World War IL. After furlough at the end of the war, he returned to Sancian Island and remained there, under house arrest for four months, until forced out by the Communists in May of 1951. He was able to return to the United States in October of 1951.

After furlough at home he was assigned to Maryknoll’s mission in Hawaii where he served for the next 27 years. As a seasoned missioner he was appointed pastor of isolated Holy Rosary Parish in Pahala on the Big Island of Hawaii. There for two years he adapted to life with Filipino, Portuguese and Hawaiian Catholics.

Next he was appointed pastor of the large St. Joseph Parish in Hilo in January of 1954, Dean of the clergy on the Island of Hawaii, and one of the Bishop’s diocesan consultors. There he carried out his duties in an excellent manner. His Superior wrote that “he runs a well ordered parish and is well thought of by his people. He is very conscious of proper public relations, has good judgment and is a big help to the priests on the Island.”

Father Joyce gained the confidence and cooperation of the 24 Franciscan Sisters from Syracuse, New York, who staffed St. Joseph Grade and High Schools with over 800 children enrolled. He supervised the construction of a new convent for 40 Sisters. Then he built a new much needed rectory big enough to accommodate five priests in the parish and the visiting clergy from other parishes. Besides his pastoral work among the people he was an active member of eight county and civic organizations. He served for specific terms as chairman of the Big Island Interscholastic Federation; chairman of the county Lung Cancer Association; chairman of the Commission on Children and Youth; chairman of the Industrial Accidents Appeals Board, and a member of other civic organizations. These social contacts gave the Church much face on the Island. When he was transferred to Honolulu after ten years, the Hawaii Supreme Court Judge Martin Pence who lived in Hilo remarked that “he wept sad tears for Hilo because of the loss of their pastor.” On August 12, 1959, he was appointed First Consulter to the Regional Superior.

In September of 1964, Father Joyce was named pastor of Sacred Heart Parish and Maryknoll Grade and High Schools in Honolulu. Again he faced a growing school enrollment and the need for expansion. He guided the construction of two new concrete classroom buildings to accommodate 800 grade school children and teaching staff. Having finished that construction he was appointed Regional Superior of the Hawaii Region in December 15, 1966 for a term of five years. During his term of office he supervised the construction of the new two story concrete Regional Center House on Dole Street in Honolulu in 1968. It was opened for occupancy on his 59th birthday, June 29, 1969. He was praised by the Superior General for his management of the Hawaii Region during the not so easy period for the Church and for Maryknoll after Vatican Council II.

After serving as Regional Superior, Father Joyce returned to his beloved Hilo parish on December 15, 1971, as a Associate Pastor and served actively there for the next nine years. July 1, 1979 he entered the Special Society Unit with residence at Maryknoll Residence, Los Altos, California. During his retirement he enjoyed fair health until sustained an injury at the Residence on September 28, 1989 and was admitted to El Camino Hospital in Los Altos. In October 1989, he was transferred to St. Teresa’s Residence where he remained until his death Father Joyce is survived by four nieces, one nephew and several grandnieces and nephews.

Wake services for Fr. Joyce were conducted Monday, October 17, 1994 at 7:00 PM at St. Teresa’s and 7:30 PM in Our Lady Queen of the Apostles Chapel at Maryknoll, New York. Fr. James McLaughlin was principal Celebrant at the Concelebrated mass in the Society Chapel at Maryknoll on Tuesday, October 18th at 11:30 AM. Interment was in the Maryknoll Society Cemetery.