Rose’s Garden

Carter McCall

Rose Wheeler's work as the religion educator at Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church in downtown Henderson melds her personal and professional life.

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.

Rose Wheeler paces the pews and adjust bibles in the Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church before a tour group arrives. "I've always felt at home in the chapel," says Wheeler. "I remember when I was a teenager and something was bothering me, I would go to the church."

Rose Wheeler makes house visists such as this one with with Katherine Kincaid to give Holy Communion to parishioners unable to attend Mass.

Rose Wheeler makes a house visit to Brendan Hamon to talk about converting to Catholicism.

Rose Wheeler, religion educator at the Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church in downtown Henderson, serves as a resource by providing the sacraments to Catholics unable to attend Mass — in this case to Ella Steward at the Medco Center of Henderson.

Rose Wheeler, religion educator at the Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church in downtown Henderson, serves as a resource for "coming home Catholics." Her duties include providing the sacraments to the elderly and those restricted to their homes, and providing support for those in crisis.

Rose Wheeler comforts Savannah Stewart while talking to her parents about savannah's upcoming baptism. Baptism preparation is one of many jobs Wheeler does as the religious education direction at Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church.

Rose Wheeler steals a hug from her grandson, Alex, before dropping him off at school. Wheeler said Alex, 12, is too embarrassed these days to give her a kiss goodbye. "You better give me a kiss," Wheeler said as her grandson struggled away. "I'll even put on my red lipstick for you."

Wayne Wheeler met his wife Rose in a bar. She became angry when he would not ask her to dance. "I knew right then that she was the woman I was going to spend the rest of my life with," Wayne says. "And I have."

After confirmation, all eighth graders climb the walls to sign the inside of the steeple in the Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church. Rose Wheeler says she signed her name near the very top."I wanted to get my name as close to 'up there' as I could."