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Connecting church & community

East Beaches Priest Retires

For the past decade, two parishes in the East Beaches region
have had the opportunity to experience a parish priest like no other. Judy Whitmore’s inevitable retirement announcement came with mixed emotions for both her and the parishioners.

14 years ago, Judy was challenged to work with four rural churches: St. Michael’s, Victoria Beach; St. Jude’s, Grand Marais; St. Philip’s, Scanterbury; and St Luke’s, Balsam Bay. She found a diverse collection of cultures and backgrounds within each of the four communities. She saw this as a chance to mould each parish individually, developing leaders for ministry within both the Church and the community. Judy also honed her own skills, not only as a priest, but also as a person, negotiator, and teacher.

Judy is a compassionate listener who comforts those living with grief or anguish. This community has been particularly grateful for dignity and honour with which she handles death and grief among us.

While ministering to congregations which are largely comprised of the older generation, Judy has never lost sight of the importance of engaging youth. With her support, Catechesis of the Good Shepherd was created to better nurture young children in the faith. Nobody has a more joyful welcome than Judy when children arrive for a Sunday service. Her smile is contagious and uplifting.

Prior to serving in parish ministry, Judy ran a daycare. In 1985, she accepted a calling to become a deacon, serving at St. Matthew’s, Winnipeg. In 1998, she discerned a call to the priesthood.

Judy’s passion for international outreach began when she worked with the Crossed Hands initiative to sponsor two refugee women from South Sudan. She inspired our engagement in refugee sponsorship as well, and under her direction we have assisted two young men with their education, at Fisher Branch and in Uganda.

Outreach has flourished in many forms over the years, including a school breakfast program, community social gatherings, and neighbourhood hospitality. Creative fundraising has utilized a diversity of gifts and met a variety of needs. The “Sundae on a Sunday” evenings of entertainment, or the “turkey pot pie days” were not only practical but fun for all who participated.

The spiritual wellness of our community has been greatly enhanced over Judy’s stay with us, and she will be missed. Her well-earned retirement will include hobbies, more time for family and friends, musical pursuits, and exploration of the world. She says her memories of St. Michael’s and St. Jude’s will include how different we all are, how much potential we have, and how we never want to go home after church until the coffee urn is empty.

Judy’s legacy is that she has brought together a strong core of dedicated people who will have the bond of her teaching and leadership to find their way forward as faith communities. She has demonstrated how to think outside the box and work as a team on any problem. With God’s help, the future will unfold as it should.

Margaret Haddad