Sister Agnes Mary Joy has the distinction of being the first woman to serve as the drector of ACPE for clinical pastoral education in the Harris County Hospital District in Texas. She also offered one of the first Spanish-speaking ACPE programs in the United States.
Born in Newburgh, NY, Agnes Mary Joy earned a B.A. in English and Philosophy at the College of St. Rose, Albany, NY and an M.A. in History at Catholic University of America, Washington, DC. before joining the Maryknoll Sisters in 1954.
In 1957, Sister Agnes was assigned to San Antonio High School, Puerto Armuelles, Panama, the first high school in the remote banana-producing location. In Puebla, Mexico she was Directora Tecnica in a Jesuit elementary school for boys.
For six years, Sister Agnes served on the teaching staff of the Sisters’ Novitiate in Missouri and New York. Before returning to Latin America, she searched for an updated pastoral refresher course. She was invited to study as a chaplain intern in a Clinical Pastoral Education program (ACPE) in the Institute of Religion and the Harris County Hospital District in Houston, Texas, and was engaged there in pastoral health care while completing a five-year course to become a certified Clinical Pastoral Education Supervisor. As director of the pastoral care department and ACPE supervisor, she taught and supervised learning by clergy, seminarians, and lay persons from around the world.
Sister Agnes also has designed and provided chapels in the four major hospital buildings where she serves. These are multi-faith sanctuaries for peace and meditation for the staff, patients and families who use the chapels for memorial services and celebrative prayers. In collaboration with local clergy and seminaries, she helped offer many Clinical Pastoral Education courses for three decades to hundreds of pastoral students.
Presently, Sister Agnes is researching and writing the 60-year history of chaplaincy cepartments, prayers, and pastoral care in the hospitals, clinics and health-care institutions of the Texas Medical Center.