Parishes in the Archdiocese of St. Louis who are interested and working on improving racial harmony will find a partner in Joyce Jones.
Jones began in October as program director of racial harmony for the Archdiocese of St. Louis. In her new role, which falls within the auspices of the archdiocesan Peace and Justice Commission, she will serve as a resource to parishes in developing relationships among different ethnicities represented within the archdiocese.
“It’s geared toward loving your neighbor — but who is your neighbor?” she said. “You should get to know who your neighbor is. I want to provide an avenue that will foster conversations among the faithful with the ultimate goal of improving relationships between them. We will focus on relationship building, which is centered around prayer, education and dialogue — which in turn will foster racial harmony.”
Jones said that the Gospel message tells us that the greatest commandments include having no other gods before our Lord, and to love your neighbor as yourself. But she also cited another passage from the First Book of Peter as the foundation for her new work: “but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence” (1 Peter 3:15-16).
In fostering racial harmony, Jones noted that laws and policies can always be changed, but it’s changing hearts that’s going to make the biggest difference. In serving as a resource to parishes, she said, “this is not just for people who are black or white. It’s black, white, Asian, Hispanic, Vietnamese — all of the ethnicities represented in the archdiocese.”
Jones also is a co-founder of the North City Deanery Interracial Relations Committee, which was formed in 2015 and includes nine parishes, six of which are predominantly African American. The committee has hosted events throughout the year, including an annual North City Deanery Pilgrimage, a speakers’ series, pilgrimage and a Pentecost revival.
She is a member of St. Alphonsus Liguori “Rock” Church in St. Louis and previously served as business manager at St. Joseph Parish in Manchester and at her home parish, St. Alphonsus. She has a bachelor’s degree in Biblical Studies and Christian Ministry from St. Louis Christian College and is pursuing a master’s degree from the Institute of Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University in New Orleans.
Jones may be contacted at [email protected] or (314) 792-7596.