Judith (Judy) Walter

Year Joined MKLM: 2010
Country: Tanzania
City: Mwanza
Focus: Spiritual Formation
Project(s): Lake House of Prayer
People Served: Clergy, Religious, and Laity of the Mwanza Archdiocese and beyond, with special concern for the spiritual needs of the poor in our surrounding neighborhood

Project Goal(s): To foster and support the spiritual life of the members of the Catholic Church, and all true seekers of God, by providing spiritual guidance, and a place for silence, prayer and peace, for spiritual renewal.

Current Ministry:

As a Maryknoll lay missioner in Tanzania, Judy serves at the Lake House of Prayer, which is situated just outside the City of Mwanza. This is a port city on the southern shore of Lake Victoria with a population of 2.7 million. The average income for the local people in this area is about $20 U.S. dollars per month, but for Judy’s neighbors who live in poverty, it is much less. Mwanza is called Rock City, because of its unusual rock formations throughout the area. Judy and most of her neighbors live and work among rocks, between rocks, on top of rocks, or underneath giant rock formations balanced on every mount and hillside in the area.

The Lake House of Prayer is a ministry of the Catholic Archdiocese of Mwanza and Maryknoll Missioners. Judy serves at this House of Prayer along with Fr. Jim Eble, a Maryknoll missioner and priest, who has been in Tanzania for over 30 years. The vision for the House of Prayer was born out of Fr. Jim’s many years of pastoral work in Tanzania. Together, Fr. Jim and Judy offer hospitality and provide for the spiritual needs of those who come here seeking rest and spiritual renewal – the clergy, religious and laity of this diocese and beyond. They offer retreats with spiritual direction, a daily rhythm of prayer and Eucharist, to both individuals and small groups.

Just recently they welcomed four diocesan priests for their first contemplative retreat. The priests took time from their busy lives as pastors to take to heart the words of Jesus in the Gospels: “Come apart with me and rest.” It was such a privilege for Judy to be with them in this time of prayerful renewal. At the end of their few days, they composed and sang a song of thanks. Judy and Fr. Jim were deeply moved by their joy and gratitude.

Judy reflects: “We are very blessed to have a “praying community” here at the Lake House of Prayer. This praying community is from our surrounding neighborhood. These are the poor who join us every day, two times a day, for morning and evening prayer and meditation. Part of the vision for the House of Prayer is to provide a spiritual “home” for the poor, those who live all around us and those who live at a distance. Providing a place of peace and tranquility where they can come for an hour, a few hours, or a day, where they can come home to themselves and encounter God. Those who join us on a regular basis know that this is their place, and they are the heart of the House of Prayer. It is their faithfulness to prayer in the midst of the struggles of their lives that inspires us and unites us as one community in the deep silence of contemplative prayer.”

Personal Data:

Judy is from Aurora, IL, and Holy Angels Parish in the Rockford Diocese. In NY, Judy graduated from Rogers College and Valhalla Nursing School. At Columbia Presbyterian, she obtained a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and has a Master in Pastoral Studies from Loyola University, Chicago. She is certified in hospice nursing and is a chaplain. Judy worked in Bangladesh and India for many years with the Medical Mission Sisters, Holy Cross Community and the Church.

Judy began with Maryknoll Lay Missioners in Mombasa, Kenya. She was Nurse in Charge of St. Patrick Parish Dispensary. The clinic served vulnerable residents in Bangladesh, the largest informal settlement in Mombasa. To foster mother and child health, Judy introduced a twenty-four hour maternity clinic. Before transferring to her new mission in Tanzania, Judy was able to hand over the administration of St Patrick’s Clinic to a very dedicated and capable young Kenyan Health Professional.