Ursuline Associate Joyce York is guest speaker for diocesan priests

Ursuline Associate Joyce York, an attorney from St. Louis, was a guest speaker for 28 priests of the Diocese of Owensboro, Ky., during their Presbyteral Day on May 1.

York, who became an associate of the Ursuline Sisters of Paola, Kan., when she was 17, has continued to support the sisters since their merger with the Ursulines of Mount Saint Joseph in 2008. She served on a panel during Associates and Sisters Day in 2013 concerning the spirituality of work, and her comments caught the attention of Father Tony Shonis, one of the speakers that day.

Shonis, an Ursuline Associate who is parochial vicar of Holy Name of Jesus Parish in Henderson, Ky., heads up the committee that determines the topics for the Presbyteral Day, which occur three times a year and is open to all the priests in the Diocese of Owensboro. York practices elder law in St. Louis, and impressed Shonis by her personal attentiveness to her elderly clients, often visiting them in their homes rather than making them come to her office.

Shonis said after reading “A Bittersweet Season,” a book by New York Times reporter Jane Gross on caring for aging parents, he became very interested in elder lawyers. He said it’s likely that 70 percent of the priests in the Owensboro diocese are dealing with elderly parents, so he thought York would be the perfect person to talk with them. The many international priests in the diocese face a special difficulty because their parents are so far away, Shonis said.

“Pope Francis talks about generational reconciliation,” Shonis said, the effort to close the gap between younger and older people. “It starts with the priests.”

York spoke in the morning session that began at 10 a.m. in the Catholic Pastoral Center in Owensboro, primarily about the laws that specifically address older Americans. A panel discussion among the priests followed in the afternoon.

Here are some pictures from the day: