Father Joseph Wahl

Posted on May 2, 2016

Father Joseph Wahl

A native of Jersey City, NJ, Fr. Joseph was born in May 31, 1929. He was the youngest child born to Maurice and Mary Wahl. His siblings Edward Wahl, twelve years older than him, Mary Wahl eleven years and Richard Wahl, four years. In 1935, shortly after the foundation of the Rock Hill Oratory, Edward Wahl joined the Oratory and ten years later became a priest. Mary Wahl joined the Sisters Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1942. Richard Wahl joined the Rock Hill Oratory in 1941 to become a priest.

Fr. Joe Wahl entered the Rock Hill Oratory in October 17, 1947. He studied to be a priest at St. Mary’s College in Kentucky for four years. Then he attended St. Meinard Seminary in Indiana for three years and finished his studies at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. He was ordained in June 9, 1956.

In his early years as a priest Fr. Joe Wahl taught theology for a few years at Belmont Abbey and at the Oratory House of Formation in Washington, DC. He served the Rock Hill Oratory as Vocation Director recruiting new members and Formation Director instructing and guiding the new members of the Oratory. Fr. Joe Wahl’s work as a fundraiser was largely self-taught. He successfully revitalized the Oratory Development Office and founded the Friends of The Oratory. During his leadership in both offices Fr. Joe Wahl wrote extensively to many of the local faithful and around the nation.

Fr. Joe Wahl served nine terms (27 years) as Provost of the Rock Hill Oratory. He also represented for many years the United States Confederation as Permanent Deputy for the Congregation of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri. In the Diocese of Charleston he founded and directed the Institute of Leadership at the request of his friend Bishop David Thompson. He happily worked with the Cursillo Movement and Engaged Encounter for many years. Fr. Joe Wahl also assisted the diocesan Tribunal and the Bishop Office many times.

In parish ministry Fr. Joe Wahl served as parish priest for six years in St. Catherine in Lancaster and pastor of St. Anne in Rock Hill for nineteen years. He also served on weekends at St. John Neumann and Our Lady of the Hills parishes in Columbia. Fr. Joe Wahl baptized infants only to witness their weddings twenty some years later.

During his 68 years as Oratorian Fr. Joe Wahl was in solidary with the African American community during the 50s and 60s civil rights movements, he took the initiative to reach out and help the Vietnamese refugees to settle in York County in the 70s and 80s after the Vietnam War and he welcomed the Hispanic community in 90s and 2000s. He ministered with that consistency of a charity and justice ethic, which is integral to The Congregation of the Rock Hill Oratory he loved so much. In his own words “As long as God continues to give me good health, I hope to go on serving until my arthritic body gives out.”

Fr. Joe Wahl died on Saturday April 30, 2016 at the age of 86 years old.



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