Juli Joyce and Greg Smith met at a meeting of the Dismas Club at the then-St Joseph’s Orphanage at Lane Cove in May 1972. Juli was the club’s president and welcomed Greg and his friend, Michael, when they arrived at the meeting. Not long after that Juli and Greg started going out together.
Early in 1973 they became engaged and married at St Michael’s, Lane Cove on 1 September 1973. Fr Les Campion PP officiated, assisted by family friend Fr Jim Esler SM.
Juli’s mother, Margaret Joyce, made the wedding dress and the bridesmaids’ dresses. The wedding reception was held outdoors, partly in the Joyce’s backyard and partly in the reserve behind. More than 70 guests attended.
Thereafter they lived in a home unit they purchased at Hurstville, then a home in Hurstville where they lived with their first child, Benedict. Several years later they moved back to Lane Cove, where they lived for nearly twenty years.
While living in Lane Cove, Juli gave birth to their four other children, Dominica, Nathaniel, Jerome and Philomena. Juli and Greg and five children moved to Epping in 1996 and recently to their latest home at Toongabbie, near Campion College. They now have 14 grandchildren.
Juli had been raised in Lane Cove and Greg had lived at Maroubra Beach, before his parents moved to Lane Cove.
Greg practised law for several years in private practice, for longer in the Federal Government and longer again in the State Government. In later years he was elected to the seat of Epping in NSW Parliament and was appointed attorney-general and minister for justice.
As Greg grew busier in his work, Juli played the major role in raising the children, although Greg was always there to help the children in their homework and study and an enthusiastic supporter in their sport. Greg also played roles in several school musicals with some of their children.
Greg and Juli celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary on the first of this month, with their family and friends, starting with Mass at St Bernadette’s Dundas said by Franciscan Fr Benedict Mackenzie. They renewed their vows and were also presented with a papal blessing, arranged by their children, followed by lunch.
“Juli is a loving wife, a caring mother, a soulmate in our Catholic faith, inspired by her devoted parents John and Margaret Joyce, her brothers and sisters and their families,” Greg said in his speech to their guests at their 50th Anniversary lunch:
“I am forever indebted to my parents, Ted and Noreen for their guidance and for my three brothers and their families.”
Greg also stated that the “pro-life ethic helped form our children’s characters.”
“Juli and I did our best to impart good values on our children and by prayer and example, it paid off,” he said.
“Our commitment to stand up for life was passed on to all our children, who are passing it onto their children.
“As a member of the state council of the NSW Right to Life Association, I established with Juli a local branch named Bennelong Right to Life, having bought a house in Lane Cove.
“At the Inaugural meeting in May 1981, we welcomed a young Law student, a fellow Parishioner of St Michael’s Parish, who joined the branch executive.
“His name was Anthony Fisher, who became Right to Life’s education officer before he entered the seminary. Right to Life arranged publication of his first of many books—this is the same Anthony Fisher who is now the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney.
“All of our children were involved in forming another branch of Right to Life, Youth Defence, named after a very active Irish group.
“Youth Defence Australia took part in many protests including one at the airport and another in the city against Dr Philip Nitschke and his poisonous Cogen machine, which attracted much media attention.
“For years our children organised Little Feet Day, in which at railway stations and elsewhere in the city they sold the tiny little feet pins, to teach others the size and shape of little unborn babies.”
Greg said that joy in one’s children and loyalty were, above all, what made a good marriage.
“Our children and grandchildren have been our pride and joy, some academically or artistically; some sports wise; in their spiritual life and good example; their laughter and great sense of humour; in their service to the community and in their loyalty to us and the church,” he said.
“What makes a good marriage? Love and loyalty to each other. Helping family and friends when they face difficult decisions.
“A good sense of humour is helpful in dealing with the many challenges that come with a family. Our faith has been a great help in testing times and helps us to achieve a clear mind as to what is important in life.”