Sunday, 05 August 2018 18:39

In Memoriam - Father Martin Whealen, SJ

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Fr Martin Whealen SJST. LOUIS — Father Martin Whealen, SJ, died July 19 in St. Louis. He was 87 years old, a Jesuit for 68 years and a priest for 56 years. 

He was born in St. Louis on April 13, 1931 to Martin J. and Lucille Haggenjos Whealen. Following his graduation from St. Louis University High School, he entered the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) at St. Stanislaus Seminary in Florissant, Mo., on Sept. 1, 1949. After pronouncing first vows and philosophy studies at the seminary, he studied at Saint Louis University, graduating with both a bachelor’s and a master’s in Latin. He studied theology at St. Mary’s College in St. Marys, Kan., earning the S.T.B. He also received a master’s in education from Saint Louis University. He was ordained a priest at St. Mary’s College on June 12, 1962.

Father Whealen spent more than three decades of his Jesuit life teaching in high schools; 27 of those years were a Kapaun High, in Wichita, Kan. Following his ordination and a year of teaching at St. Stanislaus in Florissant, he began teaching at Kapaun in 1965. When the Jesuits turned the school over to the diocese, he remained on as one of the three Jesuits at the re-named Kapaun-Mount Carmel. He taught theology for many years and was known for his strong convictions and clear expectations. His care for students and sense of humor made him a valuable part of the faculty. He carried a full schedule of classes while also being almost a full-time assistant pastor at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish, where he lived during his years at Kapaun-Mount Carmel.

In the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois, Father Whealen lived in Decatur from 1989 to 1991. He taught for two years at St. Teresa High School and served at St. Patrick Parish. He then went on to serve in Denver, St. Louis and once again in Wichita, as a teacher and in pastoral ministry.

During his years in Wichita, Father Whealen learned how to fly small planes manufactured there by several companies. His competence as a pilot commanded enough respect for him to be asked to deliver new planes from the factory to their purchasers. Occasionally, these missions took him as far as Europe. He also gave flying lessons.

In 2010, Father Whealen was missioned to the Fusz Pavilion in St. Louis, joining its ministry of praying for the Catholic Church and the Society.

In addition to his parents, Father Whealen was predeceased by his brothers Daniel and William. He is survived by his sister, Mary Lou Sammelman.

On July 25, Father Whealen was remembered in a Mass at the Jesuit Hall Community Chapel on the campus of Saint Louis University. He donated his body to the Saint Louis University School of Medicine.

Memorial gifts may be made to the USA Central and Southern Province of the Society of Jesus at 4511 West Pine Blvd., St. Louis, MO, 63108 or online at

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