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Called to Teach, Martin Whealen, SJ, Dies in St. Louis

July 23, 2018 - Father Martin Whealen, SJ, died July 19, 2018, in St. Louis. He was 87 years old, a Jesuit for 68 years and a priest for 56 years. 

A dedicated educator, Fr. Whealen’s life will be remembered in a Mass at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, July 25, in the Jesuit Hall Community Chapel (15th Floor) on the campus of Saint Louis University. Father Whealen donated his body to the Saint Louis University School of Medicine, so there will be no burial. 

He was born in St. Louis, on April 13, 1931, to Martin J. and Lucille Haggenjos Whealen. In addition to his parents, he was predeceased by his brothers Daniel and William. He is survived by his sister, Mrs. Mary Lou Sammelman

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. He was ordained a priest at St. Mary’s College, St. Marys, Kansas, on June 12, 1962. 

Father Whealen spent more than three decades of his Jesuit life teaching in high schools; 27 of those years were at Kapaun High. in Wichita, Kansas. 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 as one of three Jesuits at the re-named Kapaun-Mount Carmel (1971-1989). 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 was a hard worker, carrying 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.

After his years in Wichita, he taught for two years at St. Teresa’s High School in Decatur, Ill. He then did pastoral work in Denver and Wichita, before a return to teaching for three years at De Smet Jesuit High School in St. Louis (1996-99). He then worked in pastoral ministry in Denver for eleven years (1999-2010), first at St. Thomas More Parish and then at Xavier Jesuit Center. He saw his pastoral ministry as a continuation of his work as an educator, now teaching the “person in the pew.” In 2010, he was missioned to the Fusz Pavilion in St. Louis, joining its ministry of praying for the Church and the Society.

During his years in Wichita, Fr. Whealen learned how to fly the 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.

After pronouncing First Vows and philosophy studies at the seminary, he studied at Saint Louis University, graduating with both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in Latin. He studied theology at St. Mary’s College in St. Marys, Kansas, earning the S.T.B. He also received a Master of Arts in education from Saint Louis University.

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 on this site

Katherine Burgess of the Wichita Eagle captured Fr. Whealen in a written profile, found on their website





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