Sr. Noreen Joyce, SNDdeN (1933-2016): ‘Smiling nun’ served diocesan schools, parishes with joy

Sr. Noreen Joyce, nicknamed the “smiling nun,” passed away at Mount Notre Dame Convent in Cincinnati, Ohio, Dec. 20, 2016. She was 83.

Sr. Noreen Joyce (1933-2016), SNDdeN, was full of puns, but never joked around when it came to keeping in touch with those she knew.

As a child Sr. Noreen, SNDdeN, always dreamed of going to Arizona and running a cattle ranch. She finally made it, but it wasn’t livestock she wrangled. Her first assignment in the state was as a kindergarten teacher at Our Lady of Perpetual Help School in Glendale in 1978.

She earned an advanced liturgy studies certificate and after nine years in the classroom moved into serving as a coordinator of liturgy at Queen of Peace Parish in Mesa.

Sr. Margaret Campbell, SNDdeN, who knew her for 25 years, called her friend a “bundle of joy” who was always making people laugh.

Sr. Noreen Joyce, SNDdeN (1933-2016)

Final profession: Aug. 13, 1958

Service in the Diocese of Phoenix

 * 1978-1987: Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish School, Glendale

 * 1987-1990: Coordinator of Liturgy, Queen of Peace Parish, Mesa

 * 1998-2000: Student in Spiritual Direction, Kino Institute

 * 1999-2008: St. Theresa Parish School, Phoenix

 * 2008-2012: Ministry of Prayer, Mesa
Obit from SNDdeN

“She was always full of puns and she loved being silly,” Sr. Margaret said, adding, “she kept in contact with a lot of people and she was a great support to them which was a wonderful quality.”

Sr. Noreen served the Diocese of Phoenix intermittently for 26 years, having left for eight years to care for her ill mother in Florida, and returning in 1998 as a student in spiritual direction in the Kino Catechetical Institute.

She was also a teacher’s aide at St. Theresa School from 1999-2008, and later served her religious community in Mesa in a ministry of prayer from 2008-2012.

Originally from Chicago, Sr. Noreen was the second daughter and youngest child of Michael and Catherine Joyce.

She met the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur as a student at Notre Dame High School in Chicago and was attracted to their “sense of joy.”

With a feeling of being called to enter the order and encouraged by her family, she “followed her heart” and joined the candidacy in Columbus, Ohio at the beginning of her junior year in 1951, and completed high school as a postulant. Sr. Noreen took her final vows in 1958.

Her community and friends elsewhere knew of her reputation for waking up happy, singing early in the morning and having a pun or song for every occasion.

“She was spunky and always added flavor to the conversation,” said Mary Skinner, whose sons were former students at St. Theresa School. “I’ll miss talking to her. Whenever I picked up the phone to call she was always happy to hear my voice.”