William Wheeler (bishop)

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William Gordon Wheeler
Roman Catholic Bishop emeritus of Leeds
ChurchRoman Catholic Church
SeeRoman Catholic Diocese of Leeds
Appointed25 April 1966
Installed27 June 1966
Term ended12th July 1985
PredecessorGeorge Dwyer
SuccessorDavid Konstant
Other postsCoadjutor Bishop of the Diocese of Middlesbrough (1964–1966)
Titular Bishop of Theudalis (1964–1966)
Ordination31 March 1940
by Arthur Hinsley
Consecration19 March 1964
by Eugenio Cardinale
Personal details
Born(1910-05-05)May 5, 1910
Saddleworth, Yorkshire, UK
DiedFebruary 21, 1998(1998-02-21) (aged 87)
Leeds, Yorkshire, UK
BuriedSt Edward King and Confessor Church, Clifford, West Yorkshire, UK
DenominationChurch of England (Birth–1936)
Catholic (1936–death)
ResidenceEltofts, Thorner, Leeds
Alma materUniversity College, Oxford, Beda College
MottoVeritas et Caritas (Latin for In Truth and Love)
Styles of
Wiliam Gordon Wheeler
Mitre plain 2.png
Reference styleThe Right Reverend
Spoken styleMy Lord
Religious styleMonsignor
Ordination history of
William Wheeler
Priestly ordination
Ordained byArthur Hinsley (Westminster)
Date31 March 1940
Episcopal consecration
Principal consecratorEugenio Cardinale (Nepte)
Co-consecratorsGeorge Brunner (Middlesbrough)
George Laurence Craven (Sebastopolis in Armenia)
Date19 March 1964
Episcopal succession
Bishops consecrated by William Wheeler as principal consecrator
Gerald Moverley25 January 1968

William Gordon Wheeler was an English prelate and the Bishop Emeritus of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Leeds, England. Wheeler had served as the seventh Roman Catholic Bishop of Leeds, being succeeded by David Konstant. Before that, Wheeler served as Coadjutor Bishop of the Diocese of Middlesbrough and as Titular Bishop of Theudalis.[1]

Early life[edit]

Wheeler was born on 5 May 1910 in Saddleworth in the West Riding of Yorkshire, England, in the United Kingdom. He was educated at the Manchester Grammar School and then the University College, Oxford where he studied History and then Theology.[2] He was strongly influenced by the Anglo-Catholic tradition of the church in Worsley which he attended during his time at the Grammar School.[3]


Church of England[edit]

Wheeler was ordained as an Anglican priest in 1934 and began his ecclesiastical career with curacies at St Bartholomew's, Brighton, and St Mary and All Saints, Chesterfield.

During this period, Wheeler became more and more convinced by the writings of the Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman, once also a minister of the Church of England and the leader of the Oxford Movement, before being received into the Roman Catholic Church. He finally followed this same path as Newman and was received into the Catholic Church in 1936. He then enrolled at Beda College in Rome to study for the Catholic priesthood.[4]

Catholic Church[edit]

Ordained as a Roman Catholic priest in 1940, Wheeler was firstly an assistant curate at St Edmund's Parish in Lower Edmonton, then chaplain (and later Administrator) at the Westminster Cathedral. He often made a point of noting to his clergy that he understood their difficulties from his having heard confessions every day of the 11 years he served in that office.[4] He became chaplain to the Catholics at the University of London in 1950. He was later named by the Holy See to the episcopate as the coadjutor bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Middlesbrough in 1964, immediately after which he participated in the last two sessions of the Second Vatican Council.

Wheeler was named Roman Catholic Bishop of Leeds in 1966. He was an enthusiastic supporter of the spirit of the Council. One example is that, immediately after his return from Rome, he founded a new ecumenical centre at Wood Hall in Wetherby, Yorkshire. Later, despite his feelings about the historic structure of the diocese, he followed part of its instruction by supervising the division of his diocese in 1980, in keeping with the Conciliar mandate that dioceses be of such a size as to be truly manageable under the supervision of one bishop.[3]

Wheeler remained a staunch conservative in matters of liturgical practice. He was the last bishop in England to use the cappa magna, and had a strong attachment to the Tridentine Mass.[4] He submitted his resignation as bishop of the diocese at the mandatory age of 75 in 1985. He then entered an active retirement [3] in the College of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Headingley under the caring umbrella of the Little Sisters of the Poor.

Death and legacy[edit]

Wheeler died on 21 February 1998, aged 87, after a brief illness. At his request, he was buried near his predecessor and the bishop who had ordained him in the Catholic Church, Bishop Henry John Poskitt, also a convert from the Church of England, in the Church of St. Edward the Confessor in Clifford, West Yorkshire.[4]

A noted author,[5] Wheeler's memoir, In Truth and Love, was published in 1990.[4]

In March 2013, Catholic primary and secondary schools in north west Leeds and Bradford, joined together to gain Academy status from the government, as a Catholic Multi Academy Trust. The Trust, the second in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Leeds, took the name The Bishop Wheeler Catholic Academy Trust. At present, 6 schools form the parts of the trust, however there are 10 other Catholic schools could join in the future.[6][7]


  1. ^ The Times Saturday, 24 August 1985; p. 10; Issue 62225; col E Bishop Wheeler to retire
  2. ^ Who Was Who, 1897–2007, London, A & C Black, 2007; ISBN 9780199540877
  3. ^ a b c Finnigan, Robert E. (7 March 1998). "Obituary: The Right Rev Gordon Wheeler". The Independent. Retrieved 21 December 2012.
  4. ^ a b c d e Nionckton, Christopher (27 February 1998). "Bishop Gordon Wheeler". The Catholic Herald. Retrieved 21 December 2012.
  5. ^ Among other works, Wheeler wrote “Homage to Newman”, 1945 and “ More Truth and Love”, (1994) British Library catalogue accessed 28 August 2008 22:26
  6. ^ The Bishop Wheeler Catholic Academy Trust
  7. ^ McIntyre, Annette (5 March 2013). "Five Catholic primaries and one secondary school leave council control". Bradford Telegraph and Argus. Retrieved 21 April 2013.

External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
George Dwyer
Roman Catholic Bishop of Leeds
Succeeded by
David Konstant