Jesuit Father James J. Wheeler died on April 7, 2015 at Murray-Weigel Hall in the Bronx, New York, where he had been in residence. Fr. Wheeler was born on September 4, 1936, in Union Hospital in the Bronx, of James and Mary (Doyle) Wheeler.
He attended St. Helena High School (1950-54). After three years at Iona College, he entered the Society of Jesus at St. Andrew-on-Hudson in Poughkeepsie, New York, on September 7, 1957. Following his novitiate program and college studies there, he proceeded to Loyola Seminary in Shrub Oak, New York (1960-63). There he completed a master’s degree in English and received the Licentiate Degree in Philosophy. As a Jesuit scholastic, he continued as a teacher of Latin, English and religion at McQuaid Jesuit High School in Rochester, New York (1963-65). In preparation for the priesthood he studied theology at Woodstock College in Maryland from 1965-69.
On June 13, 1968, he was ordained to the priesthood at the Fordham University Chapel. In that same year he received his Master of Divinity degree from Woodstock College. Fr. Wheeler then gravitated to what would be the focus of his ministry for the remainder of his life, namely counseling and healing ministry, organizing and leading recovery programs. He would found, organize and lead Houses of Prayer and Healing in several locations in the United States, as well as in Mexico and Spain. In addition to the individual attention he offered to those struggling and in need, he also led and developed two-year programs in spirituality and inner healing. This involved the formation and training of religious and lay leaders in the ministry of prayer and healing.
For over 30 years, he initiated and led a ministry of inner healing and spiritual direction, creating 13 St. Joseph Prayer Centers. The Lord knows how many souls were reached and touched by this ministry founded and led by Fr. Wheeler. He served as Executive Director of the St. Joseph Prayer Centers in their locations in New York and New Mexico in the 1970s and 1980s and then continued this ministry while in residence at Murray-Weigel Hall in the 1990s. After his full-time assignment to Murray-Weigel Hall in 2009, he has served as Executive Director Emeritus of the St. Joseph Prayer Centers
Fr. Wheeler is survived by his brother Mr. Peter Wheeler and his sisters Mary Collaghan and Eileen Watson.