Oratorian Father Joseph Anthony Wahl dies at 86

Father-Joseph-Wahl.jpeg-bw-WEBROCK HILL–Oratorian Father Joseph Anthony Wahl died on April 30. He was 86.

A vigil will be held May 6 at 6 p.m. in St. Anne Church, 1694 Bird St., followed by a reception at the family life center. The Mass of Christian Burial will be May 7 at 10 a.m., also at St. Anne. Burial will be private.

His fellow Oratorians described him as “a beacon and a tower of spiritual light and strength for the Oratorians and especially for the Church of South Carolina.”

Father Wahl was born May 31, 1929, in Jersey City, N.J., a son of Maurice Anthony and Mary Margaret Morin Wahl. His three siblings were also called to religious life: Oratorian Fathers Edward Wahl and Richard Wahl, and Sister Maria Inez Wahl of the Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, all of whom are deceased.

Father Joseph Wahl began his studies for the priesthood in 1947. He earned a bachelor’s degree at St. Mary’s College in Kentucky and studied theology at St. Meinrad’s Seminary in Indiana and the Catholic University of America. He was ordained June 9, 1956, at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., by Bishop John McNamara.

Father Wahl first arrived in Rock Hill in 1957 and quickly became involved in The Oratory’s efforts toward racial integration, and later, settling Vietnamese refugees in the 1970s.

He received the papal medal “Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice” for outstanding service to the church and the pope in 1991.

In addition to his service at the Oratory, where he was a teacher, prefect of novices and major superior for 10 years, from 1966-77, he also served the Diocese of Charleston in many capacities.

He was the diocesan director of the Campaign for Human Development from 1970-85, Defender of the Bond for the Tribunal from 1975-85, and on the Ecclesial Team of Worldwide Marriage Encounter from 1978-85.

Father Wahl also accepted several assignments to churches in the diocese. These posts included serving as canonical pastor at St. Anne from 2004 to 2007 and then parochial vicar from 2007 to 2010. He was also assigned canonical pastor at St. Mary in Rock Hill from 2010 to 2014, after which he retired. He also served as a member of the College of Consultors from 1995 to 2000, the Presbyteral Council from 2000 to 2001, and as a clergy representative on the Child Abuse Advisory board.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to: Friends of The Oratory, P.O. Box 11586, Rock Hill, SC 29731-1586.