Thank you, Jeanne Whalen
If you have been a part of almost any diocesan committee or commission for the past three decades, you likely have witnessed — and marveled at — the faith and the organizational skills of Jeanne Whalen.
A member of the diocesan staff since 1981 and a former director of evangelization and youth ministry, Jeanne has long been involved with the Office of Family Life, including the past 13 years as director of the Office of Pastoral Services. On any given night or weekend, Jeanne was probably found at a table somewhere in the diocese passing out a meeting agenda for a small group involved in bringing Christ to the bereaved, the sick and homebound, the widowed and divorced, those hurting from abortion, etc.
Beyond the duties of her office, however, this Catholic professional — and both words are important — has also frequently been a “go-to” person for bishops past and present when it came time for coordinating major diocesan events such as the Mass for First Communicants, rosary crusades, or celebrations bestowing diocesan and pontifical honors. For goodness sake, for several years this talented woman helped coordinate the grassroots committee planning the annual MEN’S march!
Through her years of service, the Penfield native has endured a few health struggles, but nothing like during the last 13 months when she, too, joined the ranks of the homebound following complications from surgery. While Jeanne hopes, prays, and works to one day regain her health and return to some form of ministry, for now she is learning to let go and trust even more in our merciful and loving God.
In a recent letter to members of the diocesan Curia, Jeanne said she considers herself “among the most blessed of individuals” for having the opportunity to serve God in our diocese for three decades. But the health crisis now impacting her vocation and livelihood is “the most difficult challenge/cross I have ever faced/carried.”
Sometimes, it’s true, such a cross has to be carried alone or, as Jean is doing, in union with the suffering Christ. But now might be a good time for the hundreds who have worked with Jeanne, and the thousands who have benefited from her witness and skills, to show their appreciation with their prayers and actions. Many friends and colleagues are praying for her healing through the intercession of the Servant of God, Archbishop Fulton Sheen.
Jeanne has always been the consummate committee leader. But for her, I’ll gladly chair the card committee. If you wish to drop Jeanne a note of gratitude, well-wishes, or memories, write to her in care of the Spalding Pastoral Center, 419 N.E. Madison, Peoria, IL, 61603. Better yet, buy two stamps and, in honor of Jeanne’s ministry and example, send a second note to someone else who could use some encouragement or words of faith in our loving and merciful God. — Thomas J. Dermody