Father William Whelan, C.P., St. Paul of the Cross Province (1912-1976)

Home / Biography / Father William Whelan, C.P., St. Paul of the Cross Province (1912-1976)

Born John Joseph Whelan on February 22, 1912 in Jersey City, New Jersey, his parents Joseph Whelan and Charlotte Vogel called him “Tibby.” He met the Passionists by way of the parish missions they conducted in his home parish of St. John’s, Jersey City. In 1925 he went to Holy Cross Seminary, Dunkirk, New York. Novitiate took place as the first class in West Springfield, Massachusetts where he professed his vows on August 15, 1931. His religious name was William and his master of novices was Father Alexander Crocker. C.P. Student life was in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Baltimore, Maryland; Brighton, Massachusetts; and Union City, New Jersey. He was ordained on May 30, 1938 by Cardinal Spellman at St. Gabriel’s Monastery, Brighton, and was selected early on for advanced studies in Rome. Sacred eloquence was under the direction of Father Alfred Duffy, C.P. At the same time Father Whelan heard the call to the China missions. Selected, he took a medicine course at St. Mary’s Hospital, Brooklyn, New York and on Christmas Day 1940 he set out for Asia. In Peking he started a course at the University on missiology and studied Chinese at the language school operated by the Jesuits and Franciscans. By 1941 he was a prisoner of war under the Japanese. In 1945 he went to Chungking, China where he served as a contract military chaplain. with the U.S. Air Force. Later in 1945 he started a three year assignment as secretary to Bishop Cuthbert O’Gara, C.P. of Yuanling, Hunan. In September 1948 it looked like it was best to make plans to leave China since the Communists were gaining power. Upon return to the United States he was assigned to Jamaica, New York as a member of the preaching apostolate. From 1949 until 1952 he was assigned to Mexico City, Mexico then from 1952 until 1955 he was vicar at West Springfield. He was one of the five original Passionists assigned to Jamaica, West Indies in 1955. From 1955 until 1968 he was pastor of St. Paul of the Cross, Mandeville. He was Vicar General of the Montego Bay diocese. In 1971 he became the first regional vicar of the Passionist Jamaican Vicariate and was elected first consultor at the 1974 Congress. He died of a massive hemorrhage in Hargreaves Memorial Hospital, Mandeville, Jamaica, West Indies where he had been admitted on February 9, 1976. At that time he was pastor of St. Theresa’s Mission, Black River, Jamaica where he had served since 1968.