Celsus Wheeler, OFM
1897 – 1972
Fr. Celsus Wheeler, OFM, was born Dec. 12, 1897 in Port Jefferson, N.Y. He was received into the novitiate at St. Bonaventure Friary, Paterson, N.J., in 1922, professing temporary vows one year later. Fr. Celsus made his solemn profession in 1926 and was ordained in 1927.
During his life as a friar, he taught high school, college and seminary students. Fr. Celsus also served as an Army chaplain and a major superior. He was elected to serve as the eighth Provincial Minister from 1952 to 1955 and again from 1955 to 1961. During his terms, Holy Name Province expanded into new mission fields in Bolivia, Japan and Peru, and into various new ministries within the Province. Fr. Celsus’s profound influence extended beyond the Order, when he founded the Conference of Major Superiors of Religious Men in the United States.
In his later years, before his health began to fail, Fr. Celsus went to Bolivia as a missionary. Ill health forced his return to the United States and he transferred to the Provincial infirmary at St. Bonaventure University, Allegany, N.Y.
He died there on Jan. 26, 1972. Fr. Celsus was 74 years old, a professed friar for 48 years and a priest for 44 years.