As a girl growing up 12 blocks from St. Philip Neri Church in Southeast Portland, Judy Pompili dwelt in a penumbra of faith. Her family embraced the parish as its house of prayer, its grade school and its social hub.

Judy’s mother prayed the rosary constantly and while she didn’t demand that her seven children follow suit, she encouraged it by example. The mother also lovingly urged her children to frequent confession and daily Mass but was not condemning if a child failed to comply.

“She preached by her manner of living instead of her words,” said Pompili, 72.

The second oldest of the siblings, Judy was attracted to her mother’s solid but gentle example. As a seventh grader, Judy decided to walk to church with her mother for a novena. That marked a spiritual coming of age when Judy was choosing on her own to follow Jesus. Her faith has been solid ever since.

With her eyes of faith, she observed how God cared for the family, which was not wealthy. There was always enough food on the table and the nuns who taught at St. Philip Neri School gave a hefty family discount.

Pompili’s mother, while tending her own family, was generous to others. Once, the mother gave half of a much-desired sandwich to a hungry neighbor child.

“That left a lasting impression on me,” said Judy. “It was beautiful Catholic faith put into action. Mom never expected anything in return.”

When Judy was a teen, Jesuit Father Jack Morris visited St. Philip Neri to speak about the new Jesuit Volunteer Corps, in which young adults would serve low-income people, often in remote lands.

“I felt he was speaking to my heart,” Pompili recalls. She signed up and spent 1972-74 teaching second grade at Immaculate Conception School in Fairbanks, Alaska.

She discovered a lifelong truth — serving God and God’s people begets joy. She still lives by the maxim even while she contends with a blood disorder that saps energy.

“Each day I ask the Holy Spirit to please direct my path,” said Pompili, now a member of St. John Fisher Parish in Southwest Portland. “I ask God, ‘What do you want me to do for you today?’ I sometimes think I don’t have the strength, but God gives me the strength.”

She takes an elderly neighbor to the grocery store, prays the rosary for all kinds of people and spends as much time as possible with her six grown children and many grandchildren. She is a sponsor for people who are becoming Catholic at St. John Fisher and does things like praying at the bedside of a dying parishioner.

“I absolutely love my Catholic faith and I try to follow my mom’s example,” she said.

Elizabeth Millager, administrative secretary at St. John Fisher, marvels at Pompili’s zeal.

“She and her husband are here all the time,” said Millager, who recalls a day when Judy stepped up as an emergency lector for Mass even though that is not her favorite kind of ministry.

Pompili’s mother died two years ago. Pompili and her husband had decided to help a sibling care for the older woman. Pompili brought her mother Communion each day and prayed the rosary often. Shortly before she died, the mother told Pompili that another kind woman was at the bedside, a woman no one else saw. Pompili believes that her mother, who had lived so exemplary a life of faith, had received the favor of a visit from the Mother of God, on whom the family had called so many times.