Sister Joyce Marie Michel
1933 – 2016
“The authentic person is a winner when he or she works toward making the world a better place and leads by example.” (Sister Joyce Michel)
If you knew anything about Sister Joyce Michel, you know she did her best to be authentic and went about her ministry showing you how by her actions.
Joyce Marie Michel was born August 15, 1933 in Morgan City, Louisiana, the youngest child of Lawrence Michel and Matilda Leonard Michel. A natural athlete, Joyce loved sports and would gladly have spent her life playing ball. Her mother decided that this daughter of hers should go to Grand Coteau for a stricter education. As it turned out, Joyce loved it and remained at Grand Coteau until she earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the College of the Sacred Heart.
On September 8, 1957, Joyce entered the Marianites of Holy Cross. In 1958 she received the habit and the name Sr. Mary of St. Laurent (which she changed later to Sister Michel). Her perpetual profession took place on August 5, 1963. Sister earned a Masters Degree in Administration and Guidance and Counseling from Loyola University and did post-graduate work at the University of Notre Dame.
Her years of ministry included leadership in education at the elementary and secondary levels. Sister Michel served for twelve years in elementary administration and fifteen years in secondary administration. During these years, she served as principal at St. Andrew School in New Orleans; Holy Cross School in Morgan City; Holy Angels Academy in New Orleans; Resurrection School in New Orleans and Central Catholic High in Morgan City. As a leader in education, she was Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Schools in New Orleans and Director of Research and Development for the Marianites.
Sister had excellent communication skills and used these skills wisely. She was a dedicated educator with a charisma that led others to trust her and have faith in what she preached and practiced. She was unafraid to take a stand on challenging issues and undaunted in her efforts of promoting quality education. She worked to insure that the interest and welfare of the students were paramount in all endeavors. Many characterize her as kind, loving, and appreciative of the school communities and colleagues she served.
A multi-talented and energetic woman, Sister Michel used her gifts as guidance counselor at St. Stanislaus High School in Mississippi, as pastoral associate at St. Jules Parish in Belle Rose, Louisiana. Not ready for retirement and always looking for ways to help organize and be of service, she became successively manager of Calais House for senior citizens; administrative secretary at Our Lady of the Lake Assumption Hospital in Napoleonville; and coordinator of pastoral care at St. Clare Manor Nursing Home in Baton Rouge.
Through her varied life experiences, Sr. Michel had high ideals and was a take charge person. If there was a problem, she sought ways to solve it; if there was a better way to reach a goal, she diligently worked to improve the situation; if a family member or co-worker needed help, she was promptly present to assist. In the midst of her strong work ethic and dedication to service, she delighted in spending time with family and friends as well as having some pretty daring fun times.
When declining health brought her to Prompt Succor Nursing Home, Sister participated in Bingo and other group activities and enjoyed watching sports on TV. When her legs and knees began to act up in 2016, Sister became bed-bound and remained so until God called her home.
Sr. Michel died peacefully at Our Lady of Prompt Succor Nursing Home in Opelousas, Louisiana on October 29, 2016 at 9:30 AM as members of her family, friends and local community prayed for her. Michel was preceded in death by her parents and all of her siblings: sisters Theresa Canty, Angeline Guidry, Rita Mae Bonner; and brothers Lawrence, Jr., Hilton, Maurice (Mitch), Daniel, and Floyd. She is survived and fondly remembered by many nieces, nephews, their families and her friends.
To celebrate her life, a wake service was held on Wednesday, November 2, 2016 from 8:00 AM – 10:00 AM in the chapel at Our Lady of Prompt Succor Nursing Home. Numerous friends and relatives expressed personal memories and tidbits about their remembrances of Sister Michel.
Christine Duay, one of her nieces, recalled Sr. Michel’s address to her graduating class in Morgan City:
“Regardless of your vocation you are called upon to make a Christian contribution to society.” She left that class with two challenges: “First, make the story of your life come alive and pass it on to others by being the best person you can be: love God and neighbor. Second, achievement is not the most important thing, authenticity is the key to being a winner.”
Following the Mass of the Resurrection on November 2, 2016 in the chapel at Our Lady of Prompt Succor Nursing Home, Sister’s body was interred in St. Landry Cemetery, Opelousas, Louisiana.
May Sister Joyce Michel rest in peace!