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Father James F. Joyce, SJ 1945-2023


Father James F. Joyce, SJ, who served as founding president of NativityMiguel School in Buffalo, died July 21, 2023, after a battle with pancreatic cancer.

Father James Joyce, SJ

Father Joyce was born in Brooklyn on Aug. 22, 1945, to John and Marie (O’Dea) Joyce. He graduated from Regis High School in 1963, then entered the Society of Jesus at St. Andrew-on-Hudson where he did his novitiate and juniorate, followed by philosophy studies for one year at Loyola Seminary in Shrub Oak, and two years at St. Louis University. He did his regency at St. Peter’s Prep in Jersey City teaching history and coaching sports. During this time, he also earned a master’s degree in American Studies at Seton Hall University.

Father Joyce went on to study theology at Woodstock College and Regis College in Toronto (1972-75). After ordination to the priesthood in 1975, his 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 Father 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, Father 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). Father 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, Father Joyce was named president of St. Peter’s Prep in Jersey City, after which, in 1994, he had a working sabbatical with the Jesuit Refugee Service in West Africa: Liberia, Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire. In 1995, he 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 New York for a stint at St. Ann Parish in Buffalo, which included his being the founding president of NativityMiguel School (1999-2008). Then after a year’s sabbatical at Fordham’s Loyola Hall (2008-09), Father 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, Father Joyce traveled to Kingston, Jamaica, where he filled in as pastor at St. Annie’s Parish for a year (2016-17). 

Health concerns brought Jim back to the province in 2017, for a short time at Campion Center, Weston, Massachusetts, and then to the Murray-Weigel-Kohlmann Jesuit Community in the Bronx. There, he continued his life-long commitment to social justice issues while praying for the Church and the Society of Jesus. Declining health forced Father Joyce to move to Murray-Weigel Hall in 2021.

A funeral Mass will be held Thursday, July 27 at the Fordham University Church in the Bronx.