June 14, 1938 – December 2, 2020
“This is how all will know you for my disciples: your love for one another.” John 13:35
Sr. Marie Joy wrote that the passage above was especially meaningful to her, as it was this mutual joy in and care for one another that first drew her and later sustained her in community life. “We bring forth the good in one another that might not otherwise happen,” she once wrote. Later in life, she observed that it was this very love and understanding of our Sisters that encouraged her in her study, ministries, and religious life overall.
Born on June 14, 1938 to Paul and Adeline (Marchetti) Yuhasz in Lincoln Park, Michigan, Joanne was the eldest and only daughter of four children. Both parents were musicians who taught her to play the piano at the age of five and later provided lessons with professional teachers. She began school in Lincoln Park with the Sisters of St. Joseph. When she was about to enter the seventh grade her family moved to Taylor Township where she attended St. Alfred’s school and came to know the Grand Rapids Dominicans. Sister Rene Langlois taught her to play the organ and within the week she was playing for Mass. After eighth grade graduation she kept in contact with the Sisters by playing the organ for the children’s choir on Sundays.
Joanne completed two years of college at Wayne State University and studied piano at the Detroit Institute of Musical Arts. When her plans to visit the Adrian Motherhouse didn’t work out, she spoke to Sister Ruth Wolf about the Grand Rapids congregation, who arranged for a visit with Mother Victor the next day. On September 8, 1957 Joanne entered the community. At the time of her reception into the novitiate, she took the name Sister Marie Joy of the Sacred Heart. Following her novitiate year, she completed her undergraduate education at Aquinas College with a Bachelor of Music Education. During the summers, Sr. Marie Joy studied theology at St. Paul Seminary, Saginaw, earning a Master’s in 1967.
Sister Marie Joy’s entire professional life was dedicated to the teaching, composing, and performing music. Her classmates recall that even though she was a trained and superb classical musician, she could also cut loose with some fine jazzy ragtime tunes made for clapping and dancing. She taught at Holy Rosary Academy, Bay City for two years and St. Stephen’s, Grand Rapids for eight years with one-year hiatus to study at Michigan State University where she earned a Master’s in Music in 1969, an opportunity afforded her by winning the Timmer Foundation scholarship from St. Cecilia Society.
Beginning in 1971 and continuing for the next eleven years, Sister Marie Joy worked with Sister Marjorie Crimmins at the Fine Arts Center housed originally at the House of Studies and later at the building known as The Cottage located at the entrance of Marywood.
Following the closing of the Fine Arts Center, Sr. Marie Joy continued to generously offer her gifts as liturgist, organist, and music teacher at St. Stephen’s, Port Huron; Sacred Heart, Muskegon Heights; St. Robert’s, Ada; St. James, Grand Rapids; St. Nicholas, Capac; and finally as a volunteer who played the piano for visitors, patients and residents at Mercy Health, Lacks Center and at the Marywood Motherhouse whenever needed.
In addition to teaching music, Sister Marie joy gave programs in piano and voice. She was also a prolific composer of hymns. One of her songs, “Justice and Peace,” was based on Pope Paul’s encyclical on the development of peoples. She received his apostolic blessing in appreciation.
Quiet, gentle, unassuming, Sr. Marie Joy composed numerous hymns, taught innumerable pupils, and brought appreciative joy to thousands of listeners throughout her life. Hers was a life of simple joys and gratitude. She never forgot to thank people for everything from a slice of fresh bread to health care given in her later years.
Sr. Marie Joy enjoyed folk dancing and was always ready to get up and dance even when walking itself was a challenge. May she now be singing and dancing and adding much joy in her heavenly home.
Sister Marie Joy is survived by her brother Donald (Charlotte) Yuhasz, Madison Heights, Michigan; her sister-in-law Beatrice Yuhasz, Lima, Ohio; nieces, nephews; many friends and members of her Dominican Community.
Entered eternal life on December 2, 2020 at the age of 82 after 62 years of religious life.
We commend Sister Marie Joy to your prayers.
Pray for all who live with chronic pain and affliction
Sr. Marie Joy provides musical accompaniment for the Sisters getting a Wednesday manicure at Aquinata Hall
Sister Marie Joy in May of 1958 as a novice of the Dominican Sisters~Grand Rapids.
Sr. Marie Joy taught music at Interlochen National Music Camp.
Sister Marie Joy cantoring in 2008 at St. Nicholas Catholic Church, Capac, Michigan.