Meet DJ Joy – Mercy Sister and radio star

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock

Mercy Sister Gail Anne Jarvis is spreading her joy.

As a disc jockey on pinkscrystalradio.com, an online contemporary Christian music radio station featuring all genres of Christian music, the 60-year-old former parish minister is known as “DJ Joy”.

It’s a moniker that reflects the joy of mercy, the joy of her religious vocation and her desire to show that joy to others.

The name is derived from her former handle – “Joy of Mercy” – on a different site where she volunteered as a chat room greeter.

After that gig ended, she and two other people who had been associated with it continued to pray together daily through an instant messenger conference then through Pinks Crystal Radio.

Sr Jarvis, a 1979 graduate of Trinity College in Burlington with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, has been deejaying since August 2014 and “loves it”, she said. “The Lord just opened this door for me ofc deejaying.”

She’s usually on Tuesdays from 7-9am and Thursdays from 7-10am, more if she takes shifts for other volunteer DJs.

Deejaying from her apartment in Burlington is convenient for the sister who suffers from back, leg and foot problems: She sits at her dining room table, surrounded by photographs of family members and Mercy sisters, a wooden “Mercy” cross above her on the wall behind.

“I love the music. I love everything here,” said the silver-haired Sr Jarvis, dressed in black slacks, a white turtleneck and a vibrant blue jacket sporting a silver Mercy cross pin.

During one of her recent segments, she played songs including Lift High the Cross from the Norwich Cathedral Choir and Abide With Me from Sir Harry Secombe. “Then we’re going to pick it up a bit with The Mississippi Squirrel Revival by Ray Stevens,” she announced. Next came Ken Roberts’ Yodeling Song.

Sr Jarvis likes to play Christian, patriotic and wholesome secular music; she also reads devotions and presents Catholic content such as information on the Year of Mercy and Ash Wednesday. Sometimes she reads from Vermont Catholic magazine, the Burlington Diocese’s publication, or from Sisters of Mercy materials.

As she presented her program one recent morning, Sr Jarvis sipped “high test” coffee and squinted at the screen of her Acer laptop. “I’ve got to get a bigger computer,” she said. “I’ve got trifocals, and it’s a challenge” to see the small type on the screen.

When it came time to pray with and for her listeners, she gave thanks and praise, and she offered many prayers of petition.

Working off 13 sheets of plain white or pink lined paper, she read the intentions of people who had sent them to her via the chat room, instant message or text. “Help us, Lord, to lay our burden down at the cross, confident you will take care of us and our loved ones,” she said, with a Bible on the table at her left.

She prayed for specific intentions, like for the man who was “recovering nicely from having all his teeth removed”; the man recovering from a stroke; many people dealing with pain; a person in the end stages of cancer; the preservation of a woman’s sight; and a woman who had a stroke and lay on the floor for 12 hours before being found.

“Keep your holy angels around” a woman who is unwell, Sr Jarvis prayed. Make a “hedge of protection” around a man to keep him safe.

The motto of Pinks Crystal Radio is “Each one reach one”, which to Sr Jarvis means “spreading your faith, letting people know who Jesus is, what God means in your life”.

A native of Rouses Point, New York, who worked at St Anne’s Shrine in Isle LaMotte and St Amadeus Church in Alburg, Vermont, Sr Jarvis did parish ministry at St John Vianney Church in South Burlington and St Joseph Co-Cathedral in Burlington. She also taught and worked in the guidance office at Mater Christi School in Burlington.

“I had to switch from being active in ministry” because of health issues, Sr Jarvis lamented. “My true love was parish ministry – visiting the homebound, the hospitals, the nursing homes.”

No longer in regular, full-time, active ministry, Sr Jarvis – who entered the Sisters of Mercy in 1981 and professed final vows in 1988 – has a ministry of prayer, much of which is evidenced in her part-time DJ ministry. “It gives me an outreach to people,” she said. “And music is healing to people. You witness God’s hand in all of this.”

It takes her 45 minutes to an hour to prepare each of her segments, but “I could take it (the time slot) on the fly if I had to”, she said.

The program is an opportunity for faith sharing with a mostly ecumenical audience.

Sr Jarvis, who always has enjoyed music, was hard pressed to select a favourite recording artist: “There are so many good ones.”

Before handing off Pinks Crystal Radio to the next DJ, the Sister of Mercy likes to conclude her segment with Give the World a Smile by The Cathedrals.

Then she sits back in her dining room chair and smiles, a smile of joy.