July 26, 1933 – March 5, 2023
In her later years, Sr. Joyce reflected on her desire to be a person of sincere compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. And then she added, “these must be topped with a lot of love, prayer, joy, and thankfulness. I am striving for these wonderful qualities as I live each day and look forward to the joyful coming of our Savior Jesus Christ.”
Barbara Anne Kolasa was born on July 26, 1933. She was the fourth and youngest child of James and Antonette Glowa Kolasa. Both parents were Polish, her mother having been born in Poland and coming to America at the age of 14. They lived in Elmira, a small town near Gaylord.
Her elementary education was at Elmira Rural Agricultural School. Finding school tasks easy, she frequently played school with her classmates and often taught the lower grades when a teacher was ill, prompting her mother to declare, “She will be a teacher, perhaps even a nun.” Entering high school at St. Mary’s, Gaylord, she began her association with the Grand Rapids Dominicans. Her religion teacher, Fr. Edward Bielskas, encouraged her to consider a religious vocation. When the church organist was injured, Barbara, who had studied piano, was pressed into service for playing the organ for daily Mass. During her senior year, Sister Edward Aloysius Theisen helped her in deciding about the future. Her mother gave her approval to become a Dominican, but her father was at first opposed, and only reluctantly consented.
Barbara entered the congregation on September 30, 195l. The other postulants had already begun college classes; she was able to join and make up the past work. She found adjusting to life as a postulant difficult, but persevered and was received as Sister Mary Joyce of Our Mother of Confidence. In the fall of her novitiate year, she had a surprise visit from her father, who had come to accept her decision to be a Sister.
In September 1953 Sister Joyce was sent to her first mission, St. Joseph, Bay City. From there after four years she went to St. Joseph, West Branch; Blessed Sacrament, Grand Rapids; St. Josaphat, Saginaw; St. John, Essexville; St. Thomas, Grand Rapids; Sacred Heart, Merrill; St. Anthony, Grand Rapids; and St. Mary, Gaylord. She had experience in grades two through eight and was principal several times. One of her former students wrote, “I would love to contact a dear family friend and the best 6th grade teacher ever. I lost contact with Sister Joyce Kolasa about 20 years ago. I think of her often and would love to reconnect with her.” Sister Joyce was a quiet, unassuming, and dedicated teacher for thirty years.
She received a B.A. from Aquinas College and M.A. in Elementary Administration from Central Michigan University.
From 1973 to 1983 Sister Joyce was missioned in Gaylord in order to be near her aging parents. This experience led her directly into her next ministry, that of service to the elderly. As pastoral minister to the elderly at St. Adalbert Basilica, Grand Rapids, she visited and provided spiritual counsel to senior citizens, drove them to appointments, brought Holy Communion to shut-ins, and visited nursing homes, individual residences, hospitals, and the Michigan Veterans Facility. Her friendly and gentle manner was always welcome whenever and wherever she visited.
In her later years, she reflected on her desire to be a person of sincere compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. And then she added, “these must be topped with a lot of love, prayer, joy, and thankfulness. I am striving for these wonderful qualities as I live each day and look forward to the joyful coming of our Savior Jesus Christ.”
In 2000 Sister Joyce was missioned to St. Joseph Catholic Church in Traverse City as pastoral associate. Returning to Grand Rapids in 2008, Sister Joyce continued to minister to the elderly until her retirement in 2017.
Sister Joyce was devoted to her family and to the elderly whom she served. She loved to go shopping – not for herself but for gifts to take to those she visited. Whenever in a group she was quiet and retiring but enjoyed one-on-one conversations with friends. Her interests included music, reading, and out-of-doors activities.
Sister Joyce’s life was long and well lived. May she be led into Paradise by the angels and saints to greet her loved ones.
Sister Joyce is survived by nieces, nephews, many friends and members of her Dominican Community.
Entered eternal life on March 5, 2023 at the age of 89 after 71 years of religious life.
We commend Sister Joyce to your prayers.
Pray for the sick and elderly
Whenever in a group she was quiet and retiring but enjoyed one-on-one conversations with friends.
“Special thanks to my family, community, and friends for the love and support I have been shown throughout the years.” ~ Sister Joyce Kolasa
On September 30, 1951, Sister Joyce joined the Dominican Sisters, Marywood, and at Reception received the name Sister Mary Joyce of Our Mother of Confidence.
Sister Joyce enjoyed participating in the activities at Aquinata Hall, including decorating lunch bags for Kids Food Basket.
In 1983 Sister Joyce became a pastoral minister to the elderly of the Basilica of St. Adalbert Parish in Grand Rapids. She visited and brought Holy Communion to those at home and in nursing homes.