Sister Joan Dolores Boyce died at Chestnut Hill Hospital on February 5, 2022. Her warm and welcoming presence was a staple for those who lived and visited the Villa. She derived real joy in making others happy and would remember your name after one encounter.
Anna Mary Boyce entered this world on May 16, 1929, and she was the middle child. Anna was very proud of her parents’ birthplace, Ireland. Her father was from Donegal and her mother, Mayo. Anna had a wonderful and happy childhood growing up in North Philadelphia and attending St. Columba until fourth grade where she received her sacraments and her call to become a Sister of Saint Joseph. She finished her elementary education at Corpus Christi School where she remembered wonderful experiences in choir and violin, both taught by S. Anita Gertrude, “a legend in our times.” During her summers while attending Hallahan High School, Anna worked at both Abbotts Dairy and Tasty Kake. These jobs delighted her brothers since she would often bring home samples. Perhaps this was the birth of her own “sweet tooth,” for Joan was no slough when it came to strawberry ice cream or butterscotch krimpets.
Acknowledging that the seeds of her religious vocation were planted early, Joan entered the Sisters of Saint Joseph in 1948. She recalls 45 happy years as an elementary teacher and then a librarian before her retirement. Several sisters shared that everywhere Joan lived or taught she became an inspiration to many. In the classroom, she was gentle, loving, and patient, taking seriously her desire to witness to her students God’s love for them. She believed it was a great gift to meet so many wonderful children and help them grow. Our Constitutions say that, “We model our lives together on the life of the Trinity: by desiring always to respond to the Father’s gift of life; by seeking to imitate the Son’s humility and self-emptying love; by trying to know and express God’s love in our lives through the action of the Spirit.” Joan might not have said this of herself, but she did live it daily.
Joan was always ready for “any good work” except cooking. She was happy to leave that to others especially her good friend, Alice. She spent years volunteering her summers at St. Mary’s by-the-Sea retreat house. When she came to the Villa, she worked in both the mail room and the finance office and would happily adjust her schedule to meet the needs of others. Her great sense of humor often provided entertainment for others, especially at mealtime when the dietary staff would acquiesce to her request for three peas or two slices of carrots. As long as she had her ice cream and cheese curls, she was content. Truthfully, Joan was satisfied with just about everything
Again, our Constitutions say that each of us is to be “an apostle marked by docility to the Spirit, humility and zeal, expressed in a spirit of gentleness, joy, and peace.” Joan, you embodied these words, and we are honored to have shared your journey with you. May you take your positive, happy personality to our Father in Paradise. Rest in Peace.