story by Carter McCall
When Rose Wheeler’s father died unexpectedly of a heart attack 17 years ago, she had to console her grieving mother. Rose redirected her mother to find solace in the Catholic church, the faith Rose had remained close to, but from which her mother had drifted away.
She was in her mid-thirties and a career waitress at the time. But working with her Mom sent her to get a post-baccalaureate degree in pastoral ministry.
“It's not a job. It's a calling,” Wheeler says. “I was called to be part of the church.”
Now, she’s the director of religious education at the Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church.
Rose is a resource for those hoping to convert to Catholicism and for those she calls “coming home Catholics,” who were raised in the church but are looking to rekindle their faith.
Rose begins her day at 5 a.m. with a 45-minute workout and two cups of coffee. She swings by her mother's house before dropping her grandson at school. At her office, she schedules baptisms and plans Sunday school lessons. Then it’s off to give communion to those who can’t attend mass, or to parishioner’s houses for counseling.
Wayne, her husband of 21 years, usually checks in to remind her to pace herself. They coordinate who will pick up their grandson Alex from school, as Rose has to work late more often than not.
Alex, whom Rose and Wayne have raised since birth, helps keep Rose from burning out. On Wednesday nights, she and Alex share an “Us Day.” That may find them eating their dinner inside a teepee set up in the living room.
While Rose admits she has a difficult time separating her work and home lives, she doesn’t view that as a problem. Rather, she fulfills her faith by helping others rediscover theirs.