Full of Grace – Judy Polistina: ‘She had a heart for young people’

Full of Grace – Judy Polistina: ‘She had a heart for young people’

From the late 1980s until her death in November 2006, at the age of 59, Judith “Judy” Polistina was a light for the young church in the Diocese of Camden, helping youth and young adults come to know God, his love for them, and his plans for them.

As founder of the Lion of Judah Prayer Community in the late 1980s, Polistina began a ministry for youth that met every Friday for prayer, worship, music, talks, catechesis and fellowship.

judypolistina-web_thumb_medium200_200As the group continued to grow, with as many as 40 youth coming out on some nights, the meeting places shifted, from Judy’s home in Blackwood, to St. Jude Church in Blackwood, to St. Agnes in Blackwood, to St. Luke in Stratford. Still, the mission remained the same: to help youth realize God’s unconditional love for them and yield to his will for their lives.

“She had a heart for young people,” said her daughter, Judy Alberto, a member of the Lion of Judah Prayer community, who remembers the group’s founding in her home. She said her mother “touched everyone she came into contact with, youth or adult. She made a difference.”

Born in Ventnor, Polistina received a bachelor’s degree from Rowan University in Glassboro and a master’s from St. Charles Seminary in Philadelphia. For 30 years, she taught math at Williamstown Middle School.

Her legacy in South Jersey is strong with those youth she touched in Lion of Judah and as a youth coordinator for the Annual Charistmatic Conference in the Camden Diocese.

“Everything was a teachable moment,” recalled Stephanie Gettings, who was a member of Lion of Judah while in high school and college.

“She was very prayerful, and serious about understanding the faith,” she added.  “Judy had love for the faith and youth.”

At the time of Polistina’s death, Father Chris Bakey, who knew her for two decades, remembered a woman who “helped the young to know Christ.”

Those she inspired, her daughter says, will never forget her. “Through Lion of Judah, through her, we became a family,” she said. “Still today, the bond is strong in all of us.”

Researched by Peter G. Sánchez


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