A Conversation with Heartbeat Pilgrimage Scholar, Brother Timothy Joyce

Brother Timothy Joyce, of Hingham, MA is a Benedictine monk at Glastonbury Abbey. He was one of the first recipients of Heartbeat’s Pilgrimage Scholarship Award and consequently made the journey to the Isle of Iona for a retreat with John Philip Newell last month. “I have recently celebrated my 80th birthday,” he told us, “I want to mark this rite of passage in my life with an experience such as Iona. I have led Celtic Spirituality retreats and workshops. I want time and space such as the Isle of Iona, with its natural beauty, can provide. I am learning more about myself as well as God, the Christ, the meaning of life in an evolutionary world. Closeness to nature has become very significant in my search.”

Why did you want to go to the Isle of Iona?

I was looking for a place in nature for a retreat to mark some important passages in my life. The opportunity to go to Iona seemed like a providential call. This had been a sacred place on my previous visits and I relished the time and space to pray, reflect, celebrate.  I had also read John Philip Newell’s works and resonated with his teachings.

Br. Timothy Joyce at the Nunnery Ruins on the Isle of Iona.

Br. Timothy Joyce at the Nunnery Ruins on the Isle of Iona

The opportunity to go to Iona seemed like a providential call.

What stood out to you about the experience?

It was a total, embracing experience. Truly a thin place, Iona is a sacred environment – the land, the air, the sea, the abbey church. Then there was this group of 36 wonderful people who were caring, supportive, loving and very open. The meals, the talks,the hiking together, the prayer times in the abbey church were all  joyous encounters with God and each other.

How did the experience impact you?

I believe I came away with a little more urgency of living and spreading the gospel message in all its social dimensions.  I also may be more free to speak and live this message.

Anything else you want to share?

I am truly very grateful for this rich opportunity. It was more than I had hoped for.
Overlooking Columba's Bay

Overlooking Columba’s Bay

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Iona Abbey

Iona Abbey