Joyce L. Gioia, MSTh.

Being a self-described Multifaith clergy person, Joyce's seminary study involved most of the religions of the world. As you might expect, in over 500 ceremonies, she has performed many different kinds of weddings, including Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Interfaith, Co-Officiated, Humanist, Native American, Civil, Buddhist, Muslim and many combinations thereof.


Being a member of the MultiFaith clergy means believing that "we are all one." We are all worshipping the same, one God. Whether Catholic, Jewish, Hindu, Moslem, or Protestant, we are all worshipping the same universal life force. There are remarkable similarities among the religions of the world.

At The New Seminary Joyce attended, she focused on the similarities of the world religions, not the differences. Most people focus on the differences between the faiths--adhering strictly to the dogma of their religion. They're taught not to question - just to accept that their religion is the "one, true faith," and that all others are evil, misguided, or at the very least, incorrect. At the seminary she attended, everyone accepts all the faiths--even Yoruba, the African religion that involves animal sacrifice. The seminary believes that each and every person has the right to maintain whatever belief he or she chooses, and that no person or institution has a right to dictate what that belief must be. Religious freedom was one of the reasons our great country was founded.


Although not recognized by the Roman Catholic Church, Joyce's Catholic weddings include much of the Catholic liturgy. One of her favorite Catholic readings is a prayer from the Christophers which asks God to "watch over" the couple. It is particularly touching. Other elements especially appealing to Catholic couples are the Candle Ceremony and Presentation Bouquets for the mothers.


Having performed weddings for individuals of Methodist, Lutheran, Episcopal, Baptist and other Protestant backgrounds, Joyce likes to include at least some element that is specific to that particular denomination.


As a result of many years studying Judaism, Joyce is privileged to use the title of Rabbi. She has performed many Jewish weddings and has co-officiated numerous others. Joyce has often been complimented on her Hebrew pronunciation and incorporates blessings in the language whenever she is called upon to do so. Joyce's Jewish weddings usually include a blessing over wine or grape juice in Hebrew and in English, a very short sermon about "finding the peace within," a Candle Ceremony, and the breaking of a glass.

Other Jewish elements which may be included are the Sh'maa, the Jewish prayer for special occasions, a prayer from the New Union Prayer Book and a Hebrew/English benediction. Her glass breaking ceremony has a very Zen Buddhist interpretation - "that destruction is as much a part of life as is creation." Parents are especially pleased with Joyce's Jewish weddings, because the culture, liturgy and sprit of the occasion are maintained while the couple's own beliefs are not ignored.


Joyce's interfaith weddings are particularly well received, because of her unique way of subtlely blending the liturgies so that no one is offended. Taking care to balance the wedding so that both Jewish and Christian elements are present, yet the religious aspect of the language is neutral. Catholic and other prayers are often incorporated--without using the language that Jews may find offensive.

Co-Officiated Ceremonies

Joyce is often asked to function as a co-officiant, working with other clergy to balance the ceremony for the two partners. She takes pride in her flexibility and willingness to work things out for the couple's comfort and pleasure. Most often, she serves as a Rabbi, working with a Catholic priest or Christian minister for an interfaith celebration.


When couples are agnostic or atheist, they particularly appreciate Joyce's more spiritual orientation. Avoiding religion and the concept of deism altogether, Joyce's Humanist weddings contain readings and exchanges which focus on the couple and their feelings for each other, acknowledging the Spirit of Humankind.

Native American

Joyce often uses Native American elements to add another dimension to her ceremonies. Among the offerings that she can provide are an Apache Prayer, a Cherokee Prayer for Peace and the Navaho Vows.


Often couples will call requesting a Civil Ceremony and end up choosing one with a Humanist orientation. A Civil Ceremony is very short, usually devoid of spirituality and feeling. It is based on the law, and therefore requires only a statement of commitment from the partners and a pronouncement by the officiant. If the couple wishes, a Civil Ceremony may be crafted with more spirituality and warmth.


Joyce has performed a Buddhist-Jewish wedding and other combinations involving a partner with Buddhist beliefs. Joyce uses readings from the Dhammapada, a holy book of Buddhist readings. Joyce has also used readings from The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran. Her interpretation of the Jewish glass breaking ceremony has a very Zen Buddhist interpretation--"that destruction is as much a part of life as is creation."


Joyce was featured in The New York Times for having performed a Moslem wedding. Complete with a reading from the Koran, the holy book of Islam, and a Honey Ceremony, acknowledging the sharing of the "sweetness of life," Joyce's Moslem weddings touch the hearts of all of the people present.

Any Combination of Faiths

Joyce enjoys working with couples to craft unique ceremonies, honoring their religious backgrounds and religious beliefs and (to the degree that they want) their parents' wishes. Always these ceremonies provide a beautiful, unique blending of cultural backgrounds, thoughts and feelings.

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