Joyce, Patrick, 1937-2007, Jesuit priest

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Joyce, Patrick, 1937-2007, Jesuit priest

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  • Paddy Joyce

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Dates of existence

04 July 1937-09 July 2007


Born: 04 July 1937, Shantalla, Galway City, County Galway
Entered: 11 September 1956, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 25 June 1970, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 22 April 1977, Mukasa Seminary, Choma, Zambia
Died: 09 July 2007, Coláiste Iognáid, Galway - Zambia-Malawi Province (ZAM)

Transcribed HIB to ZAM : 22 April 1977

by 1963 at Alcalá de Henares, Madrid, Spain (TOLE) studying
by 1965 at Chivuna, Monze, Zambia - Regency learning language
by 1976 at Colombière Centre, Clarkston MI (DET) making Tertianship

◆ Companions in Mission 1880- Zambia-Malawi (ZAM) Obituaries :
Paddy Joyce was born in Galway, in the west of Ireland, on 4 July 1937. He went to primary school to St Brendan's and to secondary school at the Jesuit school of St Ignatius, both in Galway. He joined the Jesuit novitiate at Emo Park on 11 September 1956. On completion he went to Rathfarnham Castle in Dublin to the university where he studied Latin, French and Irish (1958 to 1961). This was followed by a three year course in philosophy, the first year at Tullabeg and the final two years at Alcalá in Spain, where he added Spanish to the languages he already knew.

In August 1964, he came to Zambia for three years, the first year teaching at Canisius Secondary School, the second year he went to Choma with Frs Flannery and Clive Dillon-Malone to be the founder members of Mukasa Minor Seminary. The third year he spent at Chivuna learning ciTonga, still another language.

He returned to Ireland to study theology at Milltown Park, Dublin where he was ordained priest on 25 June 1970. In 1971 he returned to Zambia, to Mukasa, for a short spell as a priest. From then on he took up the work he was to continue for the rest of his life, namely, pastoral work in the parishes. Apart from a break for tertianship in Clarkson MI, USA, he spent his time in Monze parish (1971 to 1975), in Choma town parish (1976 to 1980), in Nakambala parish (1980 to 1982), in ltezhi-tezhi parish in 1982, in Chikuni parish (1981 to 1987, and 1993 to 1995). He was sent to Nakambala parish again (1988 to 1993). These names and dates give but a faint idea of his parish work, his travels to outstations, baptisms, marriages and visits to the sick. Eventually he became an expert in Marriage Encounter.

In 1996 he took over the position of National Director of the Pioneer Total Abstinence Association which he still held at the time of his death. Fr Paddy moved to Lusaka from this time onward until his death, apart from a renewal year at St Anselm's in England.

He had gone to Ireland for eye treatment in Galway but developed heart trouble and had to go to the Regional Hospital there for open heart surgery on 9 July 2007. He did not recover consciousness but died the next day, 10 July.

The above outline is a factual account of Paddy's 70 years of life and tells us a lot about him. As a boy at school he was a good footballer and always kept up an interest in the game. He knew who was playing against whom, who scored and how. He was quite enthusiastic in recounting the latest game he had seen on the TV. He was also a prize winning runner and an accomplished Irish dancer. This you will recognise when you see Zambian orphan children stepping out to the tune of 'The Walls of Limerick' !

Marriage Encounter and the Pioneers were to the fore in his later apostolic work but, apart from these, Fr Paddy was most faithful in bringing the sacraments to the sick and dying, especially to the AIDS patients in the nearby hospice of St Theresa. Nothing would stop him from this. The poor had a special place in his heart. Any alms he got from Ireland he gave to them and they always knew when Fr Paddy was at home. He was most assiduous in preparing homilies for Mass, supplying outstations on Sundays and never refusing when a call came. He was a pastoral man to his finger tips.

He was also a man of prayer, praying for his own family, for his Jesuit brothers, praying for his friends and the people he came in contact with. At the same time he enjoyed a game of golf, and liked a good joke, giving pleasure to the teller of a joke by his typical reaction. Here in Lusaka where he lived, Fr Paddy could be seen going for a walk in the cool of the evening with his rosary beads dangling from his hand. Fr Paddy has touched so many lives and he will be sorely missed.

Note from Denis Flannery Entry
Bishop Corboy of the newly established diocese of Monze (1962) saw the need for a minor seminary (a secondary school) to nurture young boys who might have a vocation to the priesthood. Fr Denis was asked to work there, so he went to Mukasa at Choma which was being built and opened the first Form 1 with the help of two scholastics, Frs Paddy Joyce and Clive Dillon-Malone.

◆ Interfuse

Interfuse No 133 : Special Issue September 2007

Fr Patrick (Paddy) Joyce (1937-2007) : Zambia-Malawi Province

Jerry O'Connell writes in the Zambia Province News:
Paddy Joyce was born on the 4th July 1937 in the city of Galway, Ireland and always maintained his allegiance to that county especially where Gaelic games were concerned. He completed his secondary education at St. Ignatius College, Galway in 1956 and entered the Jesuit novitiate, Emo Park on the 114 September of that same year. He followed the usual course of training of novitiate, juniorate (BA at University College, Dublin) and philosophy until the end of first year philosophy when a Visitor from Fr. General to the Irish Province closed the philosophate in 1962. Paddy did his second and third years philosophy in Alcala de Henares, Madrid, Spain. This brought out in him his fascination with foreign languages. But Paddy always retained a deep love of Irish culture. He enjoyed the stories, dances, songs and proverbs of the people. With his compatriots he was quite likely to presume on a continued knowledge of Irish and might similarly rattle off a phrase or proverb in Irish.

In August 1964 he came to then Northern Rhodesia as a Scholastic and witnessed Independence Day on 24 October. He served at Canisius College and studied Chitonga at Chivuna Mission. He was a member of the founding team who opened the doors of Mukasa Minor Seminary to pupils in 1966. From 1967 to 1971 he studied theology at Milltown Park, Dublin and was ordained on 25 June 1970. He returned to Zambia in 1971.

From 1971 to 1980 he served as an assistant pastor in Monze and Choma and completed tertianship in the USA. He took Final Vows in Mukasa on April 22, 1977. From 1980 to 1987 he spent short spells in Nakambala and Itezhi-tezhi and a longer time in Chikuni where he served as parish priest. There was a year's break on sabbatical. This was followed by periods in Mazabuka and Nakambala, and again in Chikuni as parish priest up to 1995. In parish work he had a great love and concern for all those to whom he ministered, especially the poor and disadvantaged and those suffering from AIDS. His family had endowed him with the upbringing and support, which was very apparent in his warm humanity and his love for the extended family.

Over the years Paddy developed a great fluency especially in Chitonga and learnt many proverbs used by the people. In the 1980s he successfully sat for the Grade 12 national exam in Chitonga. He was helped in his mastery of Chitonga by his readiness and desire to help the youth of the parishes, gathering them into clubs especially involving football. He would readily join in the games himself and he is still remembered today for that aspect of his apostolate. Paddy later studied Chinyanja when he moved to Lusaka so that he could continue with pastoral work in parishes. Perhaps it was his being rooted in Irish culture that gave him such openness to other cultures.

In 1995 he was appointed National Director of the Pioneer Total Abstinence Association, a post he held until his death with one year's absence on sabbatical again, 1999-2000. He firstly moved to the Novitiate in Lusaka, spent a year or two working from Kizito Pastoral Centre, Monze, and in 2002 returned again to the Novitiate. This work suited him admirably because he had been a Pioneer himself from his school days, and he loved the opportunity to be involved in fostering the spirituality of the PTAA, and explaining it to groups. However, he found the annual National Meetings quite a challenge. He wasn't quite at ease about them and one of these may have contributed to his first mild heart attack about ten years ago. But this did not prevent him from doing his work and he was in the process of organising an international gathering of Pioneers in Zambia either next year or the year after it.

While in Lusaka, he offered himself regularly for Sunday supplies and, this past Holy Week, he presided at the ceremonies in Chinyanja in the Nampundwe area. He also presided at the Sunday Mass broadcast by Yatsani Radio. Over many years he was involved in Marriage Encounter and took part in a number of their meetings. As well as this he acted as a priest to his own family members by visiting everybody when at home and being open to all. Paddy valued his priesthood.

I spoke with him about six weeks before he went back to Ireland and he was quite concerned about a pending eye operation. He returned to Ireland for the surgery and while there he suffered a heart attack and underwent by-pass surgery. Unfortunately he did not come through the operation and he died in a Galway hospital on 10th July 2007. Paddy was at home in so many environments that we can be sure that he will feel welcome and at home in the place prepared for him by Jesus who is the way, the Truth and the Life. May his soul rest in peace.

Homily preached by Joe Keaney at Luwisha House, Lusaka:
Years ago, when I was a scholastic in Chikuni, one old Father said of another old Father, “That man is always blowing his own trumpet”. He then told me about yet another old Father who was a lot smarter. This man never blew his own trumpet but, throughout his life, was clever enough to have someone else blow it for him. Fr Paddy Joyce never blew his own trumpet and I think I'd be right to say that few others blew it for him.

I was still a schoolboy when I first met Paddy. He had already been a Jesuit for 10 years before I joined up. I knew his mother and his brothers, all of whom, except for Dominic, have since gone to the Lord. Paddy grew up in an honest, hard working and humble family in the Galway suburb of Shantalla. He attended the same school I did, Coláiste Iognáid, which was the only Irish speaking Jesuit school in Ireland.

Paddy joined the Jesuits in 1956 and brought with him to the novitiate a great love of Ireland and all things Irish. He loved the language, our country's rich folklore, its turbulent history, its sports, its music, its dance, its poetry and prose. Sadly, though, Paddy would have quickly discovered that for the most part these Gaelic interests of his were not shared or highly valued by the majority of his new brothers in the Society of Jesus. His fellow novices from the other Jesuit schools would have been far more interested in rugby and even, God help us, cricket, than in Gaelic football or hurling.

Paddy was blessed by God with average intelligence and, throughout the long years of studies, battled to pass his exams. At the same time, many of his peers would have been earning distinctions, and merits and doctorates, Poor Paddy often felt left out and, I suspect, grew up in the Society with a decided lack of self-confidence and low self esteem. But he stuck it out for 51 years with his learned Jesuit brothers until the Lord called him home this week.

God's call drew Paddy away from his native Galway and eventually away from his beloved Ireland to serve him in the Province of Zambia Malawi. For most of his working life he brought the Word to the Tonga people of the Southern Province before being transferred to Lusaka. They responded enthusiastically to his simplicity and non threatening manner. He was extraordinary successful and really mastered the language of the South.

Paddy Joyce was a simple priest who was never considered for the rank of bishop. He was never a Jesuit provincial, rector or superior. He was never on the news as a spokesman for the Church. He never published learned papers. He was never what we might call the star, never the bride, always the bridesmaid. In the Gospel we heard the invitation of Jesus, “Come to me all you who labour and are overburdened and I will give your rest”. Throughout his life as a priest, Paddy responded to that invitation. He was devoted to prayer. God constantly consoled him in prayer, breathing his love and joy and cheering up his gentle soul. Without that consolation there would have been many more cloudy days in Paddy's life.

This week the word of God was spoken to Fr Paddy Joyce more loudly than ever before. As he battled for breath and life after his surgery, the Word was inviting him to let go, to return home and to meet again his beloved parents, his brothers, Thomas McDonagh and Padraic Pearse - Paddy's heroes of the 1916 uprising - and maybe even the legendary Finn McCool and Cuchulan. The voice was whispering the promise of his prayer life, “You will find rest for your soul”.

What a surprise there was in store for Paddy as his heavenly Father gathered him in his arms, kissed him tenderly on the cheek and said well done my lovely little boy, faithful son of St Ignatius. You did an absolutely marvellous job for me. I wish you could have known all the time that your life and contribution are just as precious and important to me as that of Ignatius of Loyola, Francis Xavier, Fr Peter Hans Kolvenbach or Fr Peter Nathaniel Bwanali. I am so grateful for the way you spread my love amongst the Tonga people. I can't count the number of little ones you helped and lifted up on your journey through Monze, Chikuni, all over the Southern Province, in Lusaka and especially in the home of Mother Theresa in Mtendere. You opened the door to my Sacred Heart for thousands of my children in the Pioneer Total Abstinence Association. You enriched with my love hundreds and hundreds of married couples in Marriage Encounter. My little Paddy, you were a star, an absolute star.

I stand here before you this evening to blow Paddy's trumpet a bit. In the heel of the hunt this quiet nervous little man was, after all, a star. If we look at Paddy's life and assess it by the standards of the Gospel alone, we see he was, for sure, a star, an absolute star. In Matthew's Gospel Jesus beatifies all those who are gentle, the meek, the humble, the peacemakers, all those who mourn. These people are the salt of the earth, the light of the world.

When the disciples were squabbling one time about who was the greatest Jesus told them that to be great one must become the servant of all. Another time Jesus presented them with a little child, suggesting greatness and childlikeness were not far apart.

Paddy was a wonderful Jesuit and lived his three vows of religious life so well. He responded obediently to the wishes of his superiors and went where he was sent. His living of the vow of poverty should be an example to us all. He was never a snappy dresser and without the input of Una, his sister-in-law, would have been a total disaster. And as far as I know he never had any girlfriends. He was a great companion to us in the Society, especially with those willing to enjoy his charming stories and share his enthusiasm for sport. When I think about Paddy this week I realize we had a little saint in our company, the real salt of the earth. I wish now I had blown his trumpet a bit more loudly and a bit more often down the years.

Paddy died back home in Galway. I don't know if he would have wanted that or if he would have cared one way or the other. But I do know that nowhere on this earth did Paddy Joyce feel more at home and accepted than in the home of Dominic, Una and their children, back in the old home of Shantalla. In that house he was always a star.

We give thanks to God for his life, his simplicity, his humility, his compassion for the little ones, his enthusiasm, his stories and his great sense of fun. After his life of prayer he will have no difficulty recognizing the face of God. This week he has finally and fully found rest for his soul. Farewell for now, brother, and enjoy that rest.


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