Judith Schenck Profile Photo

Judith Schenck

May 15, 1942 — December 29, 2023

Kalispell, Montana


   The Rev. Judith Schenck        May 15, 1942 -December 29, 2023


 Judith Schenck of Kalispell, Mt. died Friday, December 29, 2024 at Kalispell Rehab Nursing Home.

  A memorial service will be held Sunday February 4, 2023 at 3:00 p.m. at Christ Church Episcopal in Kalispell, Mt. with The Rt. Rev. Marty Stebbins Presiding, The Rev. Sadie Koppelberger Officiating.

  "Judith was born May 15, 1942 in Alva, Ok. to Dr. Clifford & Trescinda Traverse. It was a freedom filled childhood of bare feet, tree houses, roller skating, swimming, green apples and armfuls of books from the city library. Music: piano, organ & carillon filled dedicated hours from early childhood on. 

  In 1962 Judith married George Schenck and they had four children. Elsie, George Jr., Andrew & Audrey. In 1967 Judith followed her husband to Taiwan for 2 years without military approval taking 3 children from infant to 4 years and only a duffle bag of clothes. Back in Oklahoma Judith realized there was no support for wives of Missing in Action. When her husband was in Vietnam she started a movement called Oklahomans Concerned for American POWs and received 180,000 signatures in support. 

 Judith and George were the first white people in an Indian Catholic Jesuit Deacon program. It was a time of deep spiritual growth with intense spiritual formation and a privilege to be invited into the Indian's lives, stories and homes. They slept on Indian floors for visits and Indians slept on theirs and told stories they would never share with white people. The very first meeting, Judith rattled on and on and the Indian man said, 'If you kept your mouth shut you might learn more, so she did and learned'. 

 With her Indian friends at the retreat house Judith made an 8 day Jesuit retreat and there she made the prayer of her life. "I pray to belong to you completely. I pray for the silent, the empty, the hidden, that when all else is gone, you will be there and I will belong to you completely. I don't know where this prayer will take me but I want to go wherever you lead me. And I love you!"

  After years of contemplation and longing for a place to nurture more silence, Judith and her family moved to a 100 year old cabin in the far corner of the Black Hills. They had chickens, geese, pigs and a milk goat named Susie. The place was named 'Where the snow plow turns around'. It was completely illogical. On the mountain she would climb at dawn and wait for the sun to come up. There is a split second when the light of the world changes, when everything comes alive. She waited for that moment. 

 Eventually on the mountain George became too sick and volatile so he was admitted to the VA hospital in Sturgis, hospitalized with a brain disease.   

 Judith moved the family to Missoula for college education and heard the words 'not someday, NOW'. After seven years of college and seminary at Seabury Western in Chicago and a small seminary in Saskatchewan, Judith earned a masters degree in theology and was ordained to the Priesthood in the Episcopal Church on the Feast day of St Thomas and Winter Solstice December 21, 1990 in Glasgow Mt. during a blizzard. 

  As a parish priest she covered a vast area of eastern Mt. traveling lonely hazardous roads to serve 4 small parishes. Judith received a grant then and spent 3 months in the UK traveling among holy sites, part of the time alone in hermitages and part of the time with the group. At the end of the trip she told the Bishop she could no longer be a parish priest and he said "I know".

 Eventually she heard a call to form a Poor Clare Franciscan Religious Community so she went to England to live with the Poor Clares for 2 years and learn to be one. It was every level of holiness. 

 Back in Montana, Judith made vows under the Bishop and became a monk, where finally the prayer of her life told all. She formed a hermitage in Kalispell, Mt. called The Monastery of the Transfiguration and devoted decades to study, solitude, silence and prayer.  In time, Judith moved to Heritage Place and continued her life as a monk in her little cell filled with books. Her far reaching vocation of study and solitude taught Judith that she was a monk who had questions, who yearned to teach and to be in religious community. She became deeply disheartened and withdrew her priestly and hermit vows and became Jewish, welcoming the Jewish community into her life. "My Jewish Baptism was glorious, Judith said. My only roadblock was I couldn't speak Hebrew. I became a focused scholar and through my intense monastic life, I learned how to read and study scripture in a profound and steady way. Eventually I came back to the Episcopal church and my priestly vows with deep humility." 

 At the nursing home, where Judith was known as an advocate and spiritual leader, she was able to teach and joyfully officiate until shortly before she died. 

   Socrates famously said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”    Judith examined.

  Judith was preceded in death by her husband George, her parents, her brothers Austin and Gilbert, sister Sharon, and her son, Gaven.

 Judith is survived by her daughter Elsie Milleren(Michael), son Andrew, daughter Audrey(Kirk) granddaughter(Georgia), grandson Mark Clemow(Kristine), granddaughter Elaine Warn(Dillon) and great grandchildren Cassian and Rosa Lee.


To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Judith Schenck, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Celebration of Life

Sunday, February 4, 2024

3:00 - 4:00 pm (Mountain time)

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Christ Episcopal Church

215 3rd Ave E
Kalispell, MT 59901

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