Remembering James and Eileen Poelma
by Father James Peak
James and Eileen came from humble beginnings of hard-working farming families. Shortly after being united in the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, James went to fight with the 5th Armored Division in World War II. At the end of the war, he and Eileen settled on a wheat farm just outside the small town of Carpenter, Wyoming. Both served in their parish and the local community in many ways for the next 50 years.
The Catholic Church was at the very center of their family life. Upon entering their home, any visitor could immediately recognize this Catholic identity by the many images of Our Lord and the Blessed Virgin Mary. Holy Mass was the most important moment of every week, and they regularly practiced many devotions. Music was also an important part of the Poelma family. Their sons would go on to teach music in secondary education schools, and their daughters played the piano and organ at Holy Mass in several parishes for decades.
James and Eileen inspired many people to live their Catholic Faith with charity, courage, and conviction. Even in the most difficult times, they generously supported the Catholic Church with their time, talent, and treasure — without counting the cost. Their personal example of love for Jesus Christ and Holy Mother Church played an important role in helping me to recognize and discern my own priestly vocation. This endowment fund will continue their legacy of service to the People of God by assisting students from similar farming and musical backgrounds to grow in a faithfully-Catholic environment. Now more than ever, our society needs formed and faithful Catholics to give authentic and courageous witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.