Father Clarence Wheeler

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Father Clarence Wheeler, MS, 88, of Jefferson City, passed away Thursday, June 9, 2011, at the Villa Marie Nursing Home. He was born on May 1, 1923, in Olyphant, Pa., a son of the late Clarence and Mary Fitzgerald Wheeler. He was a graduate of St. Patrick High School in Olyphant, Pa., and he began studying at St. Thomas College in Scranton, Penn. He enlisted in the United States Army after Pearl Harbor, where he served on Utah Beach and was injured in the Battle of the Bulge. He entered the Missionaries of La Salette - a missionary order founded in France in 1852. He went into the novitiate in Bloomfield, Conn. in 1946, and professed temporary vows on July 2, 1948. He then went to Ipswich, Mass., to study theology and philosophy. That year, his novitiate class was sent to Jefferson City to clean up the old Botz family villa and chicken farm. The property became the new La Salette Seminary in September 1948. He professed his permanent vows in 1952 and was ordained to the Holy Priesthood in Boston on May 1, 1954. Father Wheeler returned to Jefferson City to teach at the seminary and serve as a prison chaplain at the Algoa Reformatory. He also served from 1954-1964 as an auxiliary chaplain at Fort Leonard Wood. In 1965 he was assigned to St. Peter parish in Houston, Texas and in 1966 he established a new catholic parish in the Houston suburb of Friendswood, Texas. In 1969, he was appointed chaplain of the old Missouri State Penitentiary in Jefferson City and spiritual director for the nuns at the Discalced Carmelite Monastery. He also visited the old Church Farm and Renz Farm prison sites. He served as secretary and treasurer of the American Correctional Chaplains Association, through which he helped train other prison chaplains from all over the country. Father Wheeler remained the Carmelite chaplain until 2007, offering Mass and spiritual guidance to the nuns, who he counts among his best friends. In 2008, Father Wheeler celebrated 60 years as a member of the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette. He is survived by one brother in-law, numerous nieces and nephews, La Salette Fathers and Brothers, the Meyer family and a host of friends. He was preceded in death by his parents, two sisters and one brother. Friends will be received from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. on Friday, June 10, 2011, at the Houser-Millard Funeral Home, where a prayer service will be held at 3:30 p.m. Additional visitation will be held from 9:00 to 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, June 11, 2011, at the Cathedral of St. Joseph, where Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10:00 a.m., with Father Dennis Meyer, MS, officiating. Full military honors will be held following the Mass of Christian Burial at the Cathedral of St. Joseph. Graveside services will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Monday, June 13, 2011 at the Resurrection Cemetery in St. Louis. Expressions of sympathy may be made to the Carmelite Monastery or the Missionaries of La Salette. Arrangements are under the direction of HOUSER-MILLARD Funeral Directors, 2613 West Main Street, (573) 636-3838. Condolences may be left for the family online at

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