Fr Joseph Wahl, CO

Posted on Aug 23, 2011

Fr Joseph Wahl, CO

I suppose the best way for me to begin this is to acknowledge the road I traveled to the Oratory is different from my brother Oratorians.

I was born May 31, 1929 the seventh of seven children born to Maurice and Mary Wahl. Three children died as babies. John was ill from birth and died at three weeks. Charles survived two months and Teresa, twenty two months.

As I grew up my siblings were Edward, twelve years older than me. Mary eleven years and Richard, four years. In 1935, shortly after the foundation of the Rock Hill Oratory, Ed joined the Oratory. He lived sixty years in our community and was a priest of the Oratory fifty years when when he died on June 25, 1995. Mary joined the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1942. She was celebrating her Silver Jubilee when severe bone cancer claimed her life March 3, 1967. Richard, with whom I shared a bed for twelve years let me have it to myself when he joined the Rock Hill Oratory in 1941, dies on July 10, 1983.

You read correctly. All my siblings became Oratoian priests at Rock Hill or a nun. Whenever people learned all four children entered religious life they would marvel. Mom would respond, “It is not much of a way to get grandchildren.”

My entrance date into the Oratory was October 17, 1947. God has blessed me with sixty years as an Oratorian and fifty one as a priest ordained June 9, 1956.

I studied to be a priest at St. Marys College in Kentucky four years, three years at St. Meinard Seminary in Indiana and finished my studies the last three years at the Catholic University of America and taught theology a few years at Belmont Abbey and the Oratory.

Positions I’ve held over my years at the Oratory include ocation Director recruiting new members, and Formation Director forming new members of the Oratory. I have served as parish priest for a couple of in St. Catherine’s Lancaster, from 1974-80 as pastor of St. Anne’s for nineteen years on weekends at St. John Neumann and Our Lady of the Hills parishes in Columbia. In December 2007 I returned to St. Anne’s to assist Father Adilso.

Presently I am serving my ninth term as Provost of the Oratory. I am Development Director and Director of the Friends of the Oratory in which I solicit donations to keep the Oratory afloat financially.

God knew what He was doing when He called me to be a priest at the Rock Hill Oratory. The spirit of St. Philip Neri, our founder suits my temperment. Oratorians spend their entire lives in the one congregation. They bond closely to the people served. I have baptized infants only to witness their weddings twnty some years later. The Oratory has always tried to use the gifts each member has in service to the People of God. We really are family to one another and to our people.

I have felt very fulfilled in my priestly ministry and feel appreciated and loved by the many I’ve literally grown up with.

I am the oldest member of the Rock Hill Oratory in age and in years as an Oratorian. As long as God continues to give me good health, I hope to go on serving until my arthritic body gives out.

As fund raiser for the Oratory, I cannot resist an opportunity to promote the Oratory. We ask your help on the basis that the Oratorians are here for the long haul — literally until we die. That decision of course, is God’s. Meanwhile, I’ll go on happily serving you and thanking God for placing me where I am.



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