October 29, 1941 – March 17, 2023
Joyce Claire Williams was born on October 29, 1941, in Detroit Michigan. She and her other two sisters were the eleventh birth of their parents, Catherine Theresa (Young) and James Joseph Williams.
In March of 1946, the family moved to a 40-acre farm on 100th Street just west of Kent County. It was on this virgin farm that the 10 youngest children grew up and learned to cultivate the land, raise vegetables, take care of the animals, and share in the family responsibilities. The three older children began their careers; one in the navy, one as secretary, and after finishing high school, the third entered the air force.
The faith community of St. Sebastian Church was the family’s place of worship, service, and social life. Five of her siblings attended St. Sebastian grade school taught by the Dominican Sisters of Grand Rapids. High school was at Hudsonville Public except for Joyce’s senior year which was at Marywood Academy from which she graduated in 1959.
September 8, 1959, Joyce along with the other two triplets Jean Anita and Joan Bridget, entered the community of the Dominican Sisters of Grand Rapids. Her older sister Catherine had entered two years previously, bringing the number of young women from the Williams family in the Congregation to four. Joyce was received into the Congregation the following year and took the name Sister Joyce Mary of the Blessed Sacrament. In 1967, she made her final profession.
Her earliest ministries were in the area of food service. She received a bachelor’s degree in foods and nutrition from Michigan State University in 1973 and a Master of Management from Aquinas College in 1981.
Sister Joyce was staff dietician and consultant at Kent Community Hospital and Kent Oaks Hospital where her competence as well as her compassion and warmth were valued by patients and co-workers alike.
In 1980 she applied for and was accepted as administrator at Aquinata Hall. The following year, recognizing her strengths and talents, she was appointed to the Advisory Board of Villa Elizabeth by Bishop Breitenbeck.
As the chaplain at SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital, she was known for her special gift for working with ophthalmology patients. Her own personal experience with corneal transplantation gave her firsthand experience with the suffering and loss of diminished vision. While at the hospital in St. Louis, she also served as sacristan and mentored students in educational programs offered by the pastoral care department.
Sister Joyce earned her Master of Pastoral Ministry and Certificate in Spiritual Direction from Aquinas Institute of Theology, Saint Louis, Missouri in 2001. She was a Board-Certified chaplain with the National Association of Catholic Chaplains since 2004.
Known as the Hospital Detective for her uncanny ability to uncover clues and connect the dots to find next of kin for patients who were unable to communicate, Sister Joyce was recognized for her kindness, compassion, and skills. In the celebration of her contribution it was said, “she offers calm and confident support to trauma patients and their families during countless crisis situations at the busy medical center.”
Sister Joyce enjoyed photography and created lovely cards with images of her work. She loved her family, her Dominican community and those with whom she worked and served. She will be keenly missed.
Sister Joyce was preceded in death by her parents James Williams and Catherine Theresa Young, her four brothers Lawrence, James Joseph, Edmund, Francis; her sisters-in-law Margaret Simons Williams and Helen Horan Williams; brother-in-law: Perry Brantley Yarrington.
Sr. Joyce is survived by her brothers Thomas (Louise Steffes) Williams, Gerald (Theresa Weber) Williams, Kenneth Williams; her sisters Mary Jane Yarrington, Rita Williams (John Gill); her Dominican Sisters Catherine, Jean and Joan Williams; her sisters-in-law Paula Joan Pitch Williams, Theresa Mari Williams, and Anne Matola Williams; many nieces, nephews, friends and members of her Dominican Community.
Entered eternal life on March 17, 2023 at the age of 81 after 63 years of religious life.
We commend Sister Joyce to your prayers.
Pray for victims of violence
“All of my previous ministries and experiences prepared me well for ministering to patients and their families as a chaplain,” says Sister Joyce.
My ministries have been in Food Service and Health Care. Most recently I retired from Saint Louis University Hospital as the Trauma Chaplain. I continue to cherish memories of being present to others during some of the most vulnerable times of their lives.
I am so blessed with the support from my sisters in Community along with family and friends who have made this all possible.
Capturing the beauty of nature through photography was a hobby of Sr. Joyce’s for several years.