The February 9 bulletin of Christ the King Church in Pleasant Hill contained this message from the church’s pastor, Father Brian Joyce:
“As I have recently informed our Parish Council that on the last Thursday in February, I had a meeting with Bishop Barber, where we came to a mutual decision, that this is the year for me to retire. Given my health issues and decisions that need to be made that impact the long range future of the parish, I have agreed to step down as of September 15th of this year. Sometime after Easter we will know who my successor will be. I will share much more with you on my return from Panama. In the meantime, our Parish Council will be developing transition information, recommendations and input for the next pastor.”
California Catholic Daily has covered Father Joyce extensively. In 2002, Father Joyce made news among Catholics nationwide when he presided over what has since become known as the “clown mass.” While that particular episode, which was caught on video, is perhaps the best known of Father Joyce’s offenses, others, more serious because more ongoing, have seriously marred his pastorate.
On April 25, 2008, CalCatholic reported that Father Joyce was one of the speakers at the 10th Annual West Coast Regional Call to Action Conference, held that year in San Jose. At the same conference a workshop was given by Victoria Rue, Juanita Cordero, Kathleen Kunster, and Jane Via called Women Priests at the Grassroots.
That title that proved to be an accurate description of what was happening at Christ the King. Cal Catholic stories from May 2011 through July 2013:
– “Lesbian Catholic Priest: Bay Area womanpriest has new venue for Masses”
– “New High Holy Day? Proponents of women’s ordination to celebrate Feast of Mary of Magdala at Pleasant Hill parish”
– “Women’s ordinations identify rotten parishes”
– “Finishing schools for excomunication”
CalCatholic documented the presence of the Women of Magdala group at Christ the King. Women of Magdala exists to promote the ordination of women as priests in the Catholic Church, which in effect means to promote excommunication. All four of the women listed on the Women of Magdala website were prominent parishioners at Christ the King. One of the four, Gwen Watson, was pictured with Father Joyce at the 2010 Call to Action conference in Santa Rosa. Our reporting – and the trend at Christ the King – culminated with the July 19, 2013 article “Finishing Schools for Excommunication,” which noted the ordination on September 18, 2011 and thus the automatic excommunication, of Christ the King RCIA instructor Maureen Mancuso. The excommunication of one of his parishioners did not deter Father Joyce. The January 15, 2012 bulletin of Christ the King – after Mancuso’s excommunication – carried a blurb for a book discussion with Mancuso and women’s ordination proponent Gary Macy. The discussion was “sponsored by Christ the King Women’s Book Study.”
On January 20, 2014 (10 days before Father Joyce met with Bishop Michael Barber) in the article “The manipulation of the manipulation: Pope Francis words continue to be exploited,” CalCatholic reported on what was perhaps the final straw. In his December 29, 2013 parish bulletin Father Joyce lied about the Holy Father’s words, when he attributed this to Pope Francis: “Speaking of gay couples, he has said, ‘Who am I to judge.’”
While Father Joyce’s departure is good news for the Church, one hopes Bishop Barber’s delay is not imprudent. September 15 is a long way off, and Father Joyce shows no sign of mending his ways. In his February 2, 2014 parish bulletin Father Joyce revealed that he had spent “much of this past Friday with Father Roy Bourgeois.” Bourgeois was dismissed from the priesthood in 2012 for his 2008 participation in the invalid ordination of a woman and a simulated Mass.