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Ordination class of 2016: Deacon Kevin Staley-Joyce

By Donis Tracy Pilot Correspondent
Posted: 5/13/2016

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Deacon Kevin Staley-Joyce Pilot file photo

This is the eighth in a series of articles profiling each of the nine men who will be ordained to the priesthood by Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross on May 21. Earlier articles in the series are available at

Deacon Kevin Staley-Joyce's journey to the priesthood has covered quite a few miles.

Rather than drive to his presbyteral ordination, he must travel across the Atlantic, having spent the last four years studying at the Pontifical North American College in Rome.

"The formation program in Rome is in many ways parallel to the formation found at seminaries in the States," he explained. "The principal difference is the setting for formation."

"Rome is, in many ways, an experience of the universality of the Church," he continued. "Many saints died or were buried in Rome, and many martyrs entered eternal life in Rome, starting with Peter and Paul. Their witness never fades, and one of the greatest privileges of living here is being able to pray with them without being overly rushed, as is unfortunately often the case when visiting Rome for a short period."

Born in New Jersey, Deacon Staley-Joyce came with his mother to Massachusetts as a baby, where he lived in Brookline for the first five years of his life before the family settled in Milton. As a teen he moved to West Roxbury, where his mother lives today.

When Deacon Staley-Joyce was in the fourth grade at St. Mary of the Hills school in Milton, he was recruited to attend St. Paul's Choir School in Cambridge.

"It was while I was at the Choir School that I found the seedbed of my vocation to the priesthood," mused Deacon Staley-Joyce. It was also during this time, in 1999, that his father passed away.

After graduating from Roxbury Latin School, an all-boys school in West Roxbury, Deacon Staley-Joyce attended Princeton University, where he graduated in 2009 with a degree in analytic philosophy. After graduating, he worked for two years in Manhattan as an assistant editor at First Things magazine.

In 2011, Deacon Staley-Joyce heeded God's call and entered St. John's Seminary in Brighton. One year later, he was chosen to complete his studies at the Pontifical North American College in Rome.

Currently Deacon Staley-Joyce is studying for a Licentiate in Patristic Theology at the Pontifical Institute Augustinianum, a small institute affiliated with the Pontifical Lateran University. Deacon Staley-Joyce explained that he needs one more year to complete those studies. So, after his ordination he will be returning to Rome, where he will live at the Casa Santa Marta, the residence for American priests in Rome.

He noted his gratitude to God for allowing him to be in Rome to study, to pray, to participate in the life of the Church. In particular, he mentioned his "fortune and privilege to witness the election of a new pope, and often to hear his words directly."

Deacon Staley-Joyce admitted he is "humbled by the quality of seminarians in formation" that he has met in Rome.

"Many men here go above and beyond what is asked of them in cultivating a life of prayer," the 29-year-old said.

Having completed his theology studies this past October, Deacon Staley-Joyce was ordained to the transitional diaconate by Cardinal Timothy Dolan at the Vatican. As a deacon, he was assigned to serve as a chaplain to a group of 40 undergraduate students from the University of Notre Dame who were studying in Rome. He also gives tours of the necropolis underneath St. Peter's, where the tomb of St. Peter lies.

As a priest, Deacon Staley-Joyce is looking forward to "bringing Christ to the Christian faithful in the liturgy," he said. He added that he also is looking forward to offering the Sacrament of Reconciliation, calling it "one of the most underappreciated gifts available to Catholics."

"I am also looking forward to accompanying those striving to pursue the vocation to marriage, and to help to strengthen those already living it," he said. He also noted his intention to devote himself "with a particular effort" to renewing the importance of preaching.

"A good priest is above all faithful to the Gospel -- in his teachings and explanations, his life priorities and above all, his personal witness to an integrated and fulfilled Christian life," he said.

"I will be in Rome for one more year, and when I leave I will most miss the friendships and the culture I have found here," he continued, "while I am looking forward to returning home, I will always hope to draw on the years I spent here in future ministry, most particularly in preaching."