Beloved Educator Passes Away After Sickness

Hyattsville's Sr. Joyce Volpini, who was the principal at the former St. Jerome's Catholic School, died July 31.

Longtime Hyattsville resident Sr. Joyce Volpini passed away July 31 after a battle with cancer.

Volpini was principal at St. Jerome’s Catholic School—now St. Jerome Academy— for over 35 years before being asked to leave by St. Jerome’s Catholic Church in 2009.

According to a Facebook post by her brother Andy, Volpini was living in Glen Arm, MD at the time of her death.

The school was going through a formal consultation by the Archdiocese of Washington. During this time, largely because of the national economic downturn, Catholic schools were closing their doors and St. Jerome's needed to make some changes to ensure the school would not be shut down.

Fr. James Stack, of St. Jerome's Church, also later asked Volpini and her fellow Notre Dame de Namur sisters to vacate the convent next to the school. A child daycare center, part of the convent, allegedly was experiencing financial hardship.

According to the church's website, Sr. Geri MacPhee is still on board as the Child Center director.

Mary Pat Donoghue, who attended the school as a child and was taught by Volpini, is now principal there.

The funeral will be at 1 p.m. Aug. 6 at St. Jerome's Church.

A Facebook page has been set up in tribute to Volpini and several have left comments remembering her as an understanding person who could be trusted.

mustang2 August 02, 2011 at 06:25 PM
Alice Gambino-Graham August 03, 2011 at 03:22 AM
One correction: Sr. Joyce was not asked to leave by St. Jerome's Church. She was asked to leave by Rev. James Stack, Resident Pastor of St. Jerome's Church. Her dismissal was a source of grief for parishioners.
Sarah Nemeth August 03, 2011 at 04:04 AM
Hi Alice, Thanks for letting me know. I was aware of this and understand how sensitive an issue it was for many. But because Fr. Stack leads St. Jerome's, I felt it best to identify it simply as a church matter as opposed to one person only. My condolences on the loss of Sr. Joyce. --Sarah
Alice Gambino-Graham August 07, 2011 at 10:49 PM
Sarah, thank you the additional details respectfully added to this piece. I think it clears up any misunderstandings readers may have taken away before. Sincerely, Alice Gambino
jayrn3 August 08, 2011 at 01:22 AM
For any who are reading this thread of comments and may be confused it is because a post is missing. The one that initially prompted me to reply and has rightfully been removed. It was flagged as inappropriate, as it truly was. Thank you Sarah, or whom ever is the administrator of this page. Sincerely, Jayrn3
Jen Sanderson August 08, 2011 at 11:36 AM
If you were going to post anything about Sr. Joyce's passing, it should have just focused on her history as Principal at St. Jerome's, the love we all had for her or just mentioning that she passed away & the time of her service. I really dont think it was appropriate (or necessary) to mention that horrible mess w/ Fr. Stack, etc. -Jen Sanderson
Julie August 08, 2011 at 01:51 PM
Sister Joyce was wise in the way she understood and had faith in children, they all knew they were loved by her. I graduated the year before she became principal...my daughter had her as her principal for 13 years, and she knew Sister Joyce loved her...no matter what. Thank you Sister Joyce...you were an inspiration to me and obviously many others. Rest in Peace my friend!
Michele DiGuiseppe August 08, 2011 at 01:58 PM
Sarah, First and foremost I feel that you were the wrong person to write anything about this women who's shoes you will never be able to walk in. Although, that said, Sr. Joyce would have allowed you to walk along side her and she would have loved you unconditionally. Your reporting is typical of journalism that only wants to focus on the negative. You admit your awareness of the drama that had accured and what a sensitive topic this is to so many and yet instead of writing about who Sr. Joyce was and the overwhelming love and caring impact she had on thousands, you chose to write about things you have no idea about and really don't care about either, you just wanted to stir up anger. You identify yourself as a conservative republican and a born again Christian. Really????? Well that explains your lack of compassion, the search for the truth and to be a positive influence on people through media. You owe this community a huge apology and the best way you can do that is to get out of journalism all together.
heather August 08, 2011 at 03:01 PM
The content of this article is poor all around. If you wanted to focus on this "beloved educator" as suggested in your title, why not include who she was, her life, the impact she had on all of us?! If you knew you sensitive a topic this is for the St. Jerome's community, this article would have been stated nothing involving Fr. Stack. Including the drama that led to her exit from the school, distracts from her memory!! You should be ashamed of yourself!
Matthew D. McKnight August 08, 2011 at 03:06 PM
Why the links? Seriously, was that really necesassary in an obituary?
Alice Gambino-Graham August 08, 2011 at 03:33 PM
In defense of the writer of this artlce, whom I don't know personally, the article initially did not mention Fr. Stack. I submitted a correction to the original article to clarify that Sr. Joyce was not asked to leave by St. Jerome's Chuch, but rather he pastor. I did this because I wanted it to be clear to readers that she was loved and respected by her community. I hope my correction did not offend any fellow members of the community. My intention was to protect her character, not to spark a debate. It never occurred to me that anyone would be insensitive enough to make unkind remarks under her death notice.
Sarah Nemeth August 08, 2011 at 03:39 PM
Hi Michele, Thanks for your comments. I appreciate your feelings and I'm so thankful for your thoughts on this piece. I'd love to address some of your concerns, but I'll limit this comment to the article. Someone wrote to me to ask me to post something about Sr. Joyce, who I met when I first started reporting in Hyattsville. You're right -- she was a very kind person. If you have other concerns, I encourage you to send me an email at sarahn@patch.com. I'd love to talk about this more. Take Care, Sarah Editor
Sarah Nemeth August 08, 2011 at 03:41 PM
Hi Matt, Yeah, in this case I felt it was necessary in order to provide background. This wasn't really intended to be an obituary -- more of an announcement on her passing and a bit of info on some of her recent work. I trust the comments left about her here -- and on the Facebook page dedicated to her memory -- cover all the really important stuff ;-) Sarah
Michele DiGuiseppe August 08, 2011 at 04:31 PM
No need to go to her defense, she references negative publicity and never provided anything good about what Sr. Joyce had done. She used poor judgement in providing information and says so with remarks like "I felt it necessary" and "I was aware of this and understand how sensitive an issue this is for many". Then goes on to say "she felt it best to identify it simply as a church matter as opposed to one person only". Really? What does she know about church matters? She obviously knew nothing of Fr. Stacks involvment in the decision. I can appreciate that your efforts were with good intention and it never occured to you that someone would make an insensitve remark about Sr. This article should have been about all that Sr. had done for thousand's of people and what a legend in her own time she was, but she didn't. That said, she owes this community and Sr. Joyce and her family an apology. She is the product of poor journalism and hasn't a thought of her own.


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