There is a quiet determination about Sister Joyce Green. As she moves about with her cane, it is readily apparent that she is blind. Once you get to know her, it is just as apparent that the experience of blindness has enriched rather than defined her.
Joyce was one of six children born to Mirene and Claude Green in a small Missouri town. Her parents could tell right away that her vision was poor. While she could see large print, bright colors and shadows, she could not recognize people. Her sisters were a big help to her, and she developed a phenomenal memory for taking in information that got her through school. She was determined to develop whatever skills she needed to succeed, from teaching herself to type to learning Braille.
After graduation, Joyce worked for eight years as a secretary in St. Louis. She became a Catholic as an adult and felt called to religious life. Sisters Mary Christopher and Alice St. Hilaire, students at St. Louis University, introduced her to Sisters of Providence. It was a good fit, and she professed first vows in 1963.
Sister Joyce’s first ministry was as a medical records transcriptionist at St. Joseph Hospital in Burbank, Calif., and at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Portland. She then moved into social work and served at Providence Portland Medical Center (PPMC) from 1971 through 1990, with time out to earn her master’s in social work at St. Louis University.
In 1990, Sister Joyce accepted the invitation to develop the mission integration program at PPMC. She developed a mission-related employee recognition program and helped regionalize the program. She also created a medication assistance program for the needy.
Sister Joyce’s “side ministry” has been helping blind people develop the self-confidence and alternative skills necessary for success in mainstream society, and teaching the sighted public what the blind can do if given equal access and unbiased support.
She has served on the boards of the Oregon State Commission for the Blind and the National Federation of the Blind in Oregon, and continues to volunteer as treasurer for the Portland chapter of NFB. She has also served on the board of Outreach Ministries, working to stabilize the lives of the would-be homeless in Portland.
Sister Joyce retired from PPMC in 1997, followed by a “life-changing” extended trip to Europe. The past few years have been quieter and closer to home. She served as co-chairperson for the chapter planning committee in 2015, gave a Jubilee address in 2017, and was recently featured in a Providence video about racial justice. Sister Joyce says she is grateful to be active to the extent that her health and age allow.