Sister Joyce (Constance) Smith, CSJ, 79, died Sunday, November 7, 2021, in the 63rd year of her religious life as a Sister of St. Joseph. The daughter of Frank and Etta Ward Smith, she entered the Congregation from St. James parish in Sewickley. Sister Joyce served as a teacher at Nativity in Pittsburgh (1966-81) and a music teacher at both Blessed Sacrament and St. Joseph High School in Natrona Heights (1981-85).
She ministered as an organist and private instrumental music instructor at Saints Cyril & Methodius in McKees Rocks (1985-87) and Holy Trinity in Ambridge (1987-88). Sister Joyce was a private music teacher at Mount Gallitzin Academy (MGA) in Baden from 1987 until 2009 when the school was closed. Because many MGA families wished to continue lessons for their children, Sister Joyce responded graciously, welcoming piano students to a convent parlor where sounds – both melodic and choppy – wafted throughout the halls.
When she wasn’t gently guiding a student’s hands along the keyboard, Sister Joyce lovingly tended perennials on the Motherhouse grounds. Her foray into gardening began in 1965 at a small plot outside Nativity School where she was teaching. Over more than 55 years, Sister Joyce helped to care for 250 different plants, flowers and trees on the Motherhouse property. Described as living works of art, Sister Joyce’s gardens were meticulously designed with flowers of contrasting colors and varying heights. Ever conscious of the Earth’s fragile ecosystem, Sister Joyce preferred to garden without using pesticides and to plant indigenous flowers that bloom throughout the seasons “to keep the bees busy.” She was delighted when retired sisters could admire the gardens from their windows. “Because the flowers and the colors please us, I think they are a gift from God when he made the world,” she said in her Golden Jubilee reflection.
With a quiet and kind presence, Sister Joyce also found God in other forms of beauty such as fine art, literature and diverse cultures. She cherished a collection of Nativities crafted from countries around the world and a set of reproductions of the Annunciation by European artists.
Sister Joyce is survived by a brother, Frank Smith of Sewickley; a sister, Martha Smith of Huron, OH; a niece Nicole (Ed) Page of Sewickley and a nephew, Brandon Smith (Carol Voll) of Moon Township; Associates and the Sisters of St. Joseph. The Sisters are grateful to the Supportive Living staff at the Motherhouse for their care of Sister Joyce.
Friends will be received Monday, November 15, from 1 p.m. to the close of the Prayer Vigil, which begins at 6 p.m., and Tuesday, November 16, from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Motherhouse of the Sisters of St. Joseph. Mass of Christian Burial will be offered Tuesday, November 16, at 3 p.m. in the Motherhouse Chapel. Burial will follow in the Sisters’ Cemetery on the Motherhouse grounds. All visitors who enter the Motherhouse are required to show proof of vaccination and must wear masks.
Donations in the name of Sister Joyce may be sent to the Sisters of St. Joseph Memorial Fund, Development Office, 1020 State St., Baden, PA, 15005.