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  • Writer's pictureProfiles in Catholicism

An Interview with Joy Viceroy Geraghty



Gordon: You have attended several colleges and universities. Please list them and the degrees that you have earned at each institution.


Joy: I graduated from Saint Mary's College, Notre Dame with my Bachelor of Arts in Music and Theatre. While at Saint Mary's, I studied abroad at the Université de Bourgogne in Dijon, France. There, I earned my Certificat Pratique de Langue Française, which led to my completion of a minor in French.


I went on to earn my Masters in Theology from the Pontifical University of St. Patrick's College, Maynooth in Ireland. My program was known as the Masters in Liturgical Music and I concentrated in voice and composition.


I also have a Certificate of Catholic Theology in Liturgy from the University of Notre Dame and a Cambridge University CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults).


Gordon: What was the favorite course that you took and why is it your favorite?


Joy: I have so many wonderful memories of each course I've taken! It's hard to choose just one, but my Theology and Music module during my postgrad studies was a particularly intriguing course. It was taught by an Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary sister, Dr. Kathleen Fitzpatrick. Having already studied music from both a secular and a sacred viewpoint, I went in expecting to "know it all." In fact, I actually knew very little! We studied the cross-sections of theology and music, and how the teachings of the Church influenced the secular music of the times. My final paper for that course was titled, "Audible Ends: An Exploration of Eschatological Themes in Alternative Rock." Death and music are innately linked and it was fascinating to explore how modern, secular music matches certain patterns set forth by sacred music from hundreds of years ago!


Gordon: When and where were you a Music Theory Teaching Assistant and what is one of your favorite memories of your work?


Joy: After completing the first-year music theory cycle at Saint Mary's, I was asked to fill the role of the Teaching Assistant for those courses the following school year. At the time, Saint Mary's didn't offer graduate courses, so any Teaching Assistant positions available were filled by undergraduates. I held the job for my final three years. My favorite part of the role was teaching the music notation software, Finale. Being the daughter of a graphic designer, I've always appreciated the impact of well-presented work, whether it's a paper, a display board, or even a piece of music. Becoming "fluent" in Finale at that time was invaluable when it came to my graduate work in composition.


Gordon: Why did you move to Ireland?


Joy: As I was nearing the end of my time at Saint Mary's, I struggled with what my next step would be. I knew I wanted to pursue postgraduate work, but I wasn't sure if my calling was in music or theatre. Most sacred music programs require a fluency in keyboard skills that I simply don't possess, so I was leaning towards an MFA program in New York. During a particularly stressful week, I received an unexpected email with the subject, "An Opportunity." It was from Steven C. Warner, then-director of the Notre Dame Folk Choir. His wife, Michele, was an adjunct voice teacher in our music department and had mentioned me to him. He offered me the opportunity to apply for a postgraduate year abroad with the House of Brigid program to serve in an Irish parish and doing music and catechesis. As I was also toying with the idea of going back to France to teach English, I wasn't opposed to going abroad.

However, the timeline Steve gave was very short: I had a week to get the application in and two weeks until interviews. If I was offered the position at the interview, I had to give my answer at that time. Although this was a bit overwhelming, I've always been one to take an opportunity when it arises. Long story short, I ended up being offered a two-year position in the program, which I happily accepted on the spot. I moved to Wexford, Ireland that fall and began my two years of service in Clonard Church of the Annunciation.


Gordon: When and where were you the House Director of the House of Brigid and share with our readers your primary responsibilities?


Joy: I began my two years in Clonard with the House of Brigid in 2013. My responsibilities were many and varied. At the parish level, myself and my three colleagues provided music and catechesis across several programs. I naturally gravitated more towards the musical side of things, so most of my efforts were concentrated there. My favorite responsibility was producing the annual musical plays. We did one on the Resurrection stories my first year and one on the Passion stories my second year.


As the House Director, I also had responsibilities to the four of us living together in community. In my first year, we were all new, so I shared a lot of the responsibilities with the named Director knowing I would take on the role my second year. The primary event I was involved with was helping transition the House of Brigid from a non-profit 501(c)(3) to an entity within the University of Notre Dame. It was a huge transition for the program at that time, and I was humbled by the responsibility of helping that transition on-site. Resultantly, a second House was opened in Dublin and now there are two communities serving the Irish Church via the House of Brigid every year.


Gordon: What did you do after two years in the House of Brigid?


Joy: Having no Irish blood and never stepping foot in Ireland prior to accepting the position, I must say I completely fell in love with the country by the end of those two years. I wasn't ready to leave. I knew my time in the program had to end, but I wanted to find a reason to stay more than anything. After finally realizing that being a full-time music minister was entirely possible with my skills, I applied to various sacred music programs back in the States. While I was accepted to some of the programs I applied to, they weren't my first choices. Turning to Google to search once again, I discovered a liturgical music postgraduate program I hadn't come across before - in Ireland! This led me to apply for and be accepted to the Pontifical University at St. Patrick's College, Maynooth. I was so excited to have two more years in Ireland continuing to hone the skills I nurtured in Clonard.


Gordon: When did you serve as Director of Music Ministries at St. Coca's Church in Kilcock and what were your primary responsibilities?


Joy: My first year of graduate school, I lived in Kilcock, a small town down the road from Maynooth. Through a new friend I made in the Maynooth University Chamber Choir, I was given the chance to apply for the Director of Music Ministries position in the Kilcock parish church. (In Irish, Kilcock is "Cill Choca," meaning "St. Coca's Church.") It is important to note that a Director of Music position in Ireland is not like one typically found in the States. In Ireland, it is not usually a full-time position, nor is it salaried. Thus, it's often a volunteer role. However, in recent years stipends have been brought into larger dioceses. I worked two or three days a week for a small stipend, leading two choirs and an accompanist in rehearsals and Masses. I also planned all of the music for liturgies and special services.


Gordon: When did you serve as Music and Choral Director & Coordinator of Liturgy at the Church of the Resurrection in Rochester, Minnesota and what were your primary responsibilities?


Joy: Towards the end of my graduate studies, I was ready to head back to the States to put into practice all that I had learned in Ireland. The position that ended up being the best fit for my gifts and talents was the Church of the Resurrection in Rochester, Minnesota. I joined them in 2017 as the Music and Choral Director. My second year there, I was asked to also fill in a new role as the Coordinator of Liturgy.


My responsibilities were many and varied, but primarily I worked to create a musical setting that enhanced the Sunday experience of the assembly while paying close attention to the instructions of the Roman Missal. I achieved this by enhancing existing choirs and developing new musical groups, while also expanding their musical library. My goal was to create a unified experience across all weekend liturgies as the parish received many visitors who were seeking treatment at the Mayo Clinic. This way, whether someone attended on Saturday evening or Sunday morning, he or she would experience the same musical soundscape.


Gordon: You are back in Ireland. What brought you back and what do you enjoy most living in Ireland?


Joy: After spending four years in Ireland, I met someone exactly one month before I was set to leave. My now-husband, Kevin, and I did long-distance for three years while I was living in Minnesota and he in Dublin. Although we were engaged after a year of dating, we settled on a long engagement as, in Ireland, it's traditional to get married in the bride's home parish. Therefore, we decided that my "Irish" home parish was the best fit. We planned our wedding in Clonard, the parish I served in during the House of Brigid, with the priest I volunteered for as our celebrant.


Kevin and I prayed deeply about where our "home" would be after the wedding. We came to the conclusion around Christmas 2019 that I would make the move back to Ireland. I gave my notice to the Church of the Resurrection in the New Year and set my departure for after Easter, with our wedding being in May. As you can probably infer, a worldwide pandemic had other plans! Despite the chaos, I still made the move back to Ireland in April 2020 with a cat, four suitcases, and a small shipping pallet in tow. Our May wedding wasn't going to happen, but with pastoral guidance from our priest, we held a private legal ceremony with him in June and had Kevin's parents as our witnesses. We finally had our "big" Church wedding with all of our friends and family in July 2022.


There are so many things I love about living in Ireland, from the beautiful landscapes all over the country to the warm welcome each and every person gives. However, what really stands out to me is the slower pace of life here. Things take time, yet it's still an incredibly productive place. While I miss some conveniences like 24-hour shops and food options, there is a lot to be said for a society that can support maternity leave for 26-42 weeks and a minimum of four weeks' vacation time per year!


Gordon: Please share with our readers some information about your remote work in China.


Joy: Owing primarily to the pandemic, though also because of the lack of full-time liturgical music jobs in Ireland, I have not had much work in the Church since returning to Ireland. While I enjoy the occasional freelance music work, I needed to give myself a regular professional outlet. As an innate teacher and lover of language, I completed a CELTA course to teach English as a new language to adults. However, all of my work has thus far been with children who are learning English in China. I first worked for a large company, but went private fairly quickly. I cherish sharing language-learning with the kids and absolutely love the fact that I can do it from home on my own time. This flexibility allows me to help my husband with his business and gives us the freedom to travel for longer stretches, especially back to the States to visit my family. There are a lot of assumptions about Chinese society, but having been fortunate to visit China twice and to work so closely with these children and their families, I would encourage others to understand that, in our cores, we innately quite similar!


Gordon: Thank you for an exceptional interview.

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