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Published: Monday, 5/26/2014

Rev. Thomas Wehinger: 1935-2014: Catholic priest first to lead retreat, teens


The Rev. Thomas Wehinger, a retired pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, died of cancer Friday in his Toledo apartment. He was 78.

“He was certainly a priest for the people,” Sister Sharon Pollnow of Sisters of St. Agnes in Fond du Lac, Wis., said. “He was caring, very compassionate, and gentle. He cared about all people and treated everyone with great dignity — the poor, the incarcerated, the young, and the seniors.”

“He just poured himself out when there was a need. He had a deep spirituality, which radiated to others the love of God,” she said.

Father Wehinger retired in 2007 as the pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, where he had served since 1991.

At different times, he was the pastor at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Maumee, Saint John the Evangelist Parish in Defiance, Saint Michael the Archangel Parish in St. Michael’s Ridge, northeast of Defiance, and at Our Lady of Mount Carmel, in Bono, Ohio.

In retirement, he ministered to the incarcerated. He was the Celebrant of the Eucharist every weekend at St. John XXlll Catholic Community in Perrysburg and at the parishes of Genoa and Oak Harbor.

He ministered the Sacrament of The Anointing of the Sick at area hospices, and visited those hospitalized and home-bound.

He was born Nov. 1, 1935, to Cecil and Mary Wehinger in Mansfield, Ohio. He grew up there and got his diploma of divinity at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus in the early 1960s.

Father Wehinger started his ministry at Saint Mary Parish in the early 1960s, Sister Sharon said. His other early assignments included Saint Mary Parish, Vermilion, Ohio; Saint John the Baptist Parish, Toledo; Saints Peter and Paul Parish, Toledo; Saint Joseph Parish, Maumee; Little Flower of Jesus Parish, Toledo; Saint Mary Parish, Tiffin, and Saint Mary Parish in Leipsic, Ohio.

Soon after he was ordained as a priest, he got involved with the Catholic Family Movement and ministering to the Spanish-speaking community in Sandusky and Seneca counties.

He was believed to be the first priest involved in the Cursillo retreat movement, the first priest to initiate Christ Renews His Parish in the Toledo Diocese in 1977 and the first priest spiritual director for Teens Encounter Christ in Tiffin in 1967 and 1968.

Father Wehinger initiated Operation Love to reach out to the migrants in Sandusky and Seneca counties in 1967, engaging 75 Tiffin Franciscan Sisters to minister to the migrants there.

He served as the dean of the Defiance Deanery from 1976 to 1981 and was a member of the Alliance of Pastors for Parish Renewal in the 1970s, in the Toledo Diocese.

He enjoyed reading, golfing, and traveling, especially to waterfalls throughout the United States.

There are no immediate survivors.

Visitation will be at 3 p.m. Tuesday and at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Queen of Peace Chapel, 6832 Convent Blvd. in Sylvania, where a Scripture Service and a “Sharing of Memories” will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday and the Mass of Christian Burial at 11 a.m. Wednesday.

Coyle Funeral Home is handling arrangements.

Father Wehinger requested tributes to the Diocese of Toledo Priest’s Retirement Fund, Hospice of Northwest Ohio, or the Sisters of St. Francis of Sylvania.

Contact Mike Sigov at: sigov@theblade.com, 419-724-6089, or on Twitter @mikesigovblade.

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