HARTFORD – Father Joseph F. Whalen, 93, a Missionary of Our Lady of La Salette, died on Aug. 8, 2016, at St. Mary Home in West Hartford.
He was born July 14, 1923, in Quincy, Mass., a son of the late Clarence and Emily (Florence) Whalen. He attended school in Boston and Quincy, as well as at the U.S. Naval Hospital Corps School in Portsmouth, Va., and the U.S. Maritime Pursers Training School in Sheepshead Bay, N.Y. He served in the Navy during World War II and, after his military service, worked for the New England Telephone Co. for 32 years.
During much of that time, he struggled with an addiction to alcohol. Through the support and encouragement of a priest, he was led to Alcoholics Anonymous and faith in God. His faith drew him to the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette as a late-life vocation and, in doing so, he fulfilled his mother’s 66 years of prayer that one of her sons would become a priest. At the age of 61, he entered the order on July 29, 1984. He was ordained on Sept. 9, 1989, at the La Salette Shrine in Ipswich, Mass.
Upon his ordination, Father Whalen was assigned to serve as first councilor to the La Salette community in Ipswich. He was named parochial vicar and then co-pastor of St. James Parish in Danielson. In addition, he was a priest-chaplain at the State of Connecticut Veteran’s Home in Rocky Hill and chaplain for the Knights of Columbus in Danielson.
He founded the St. Raphael Healing Ministry and traveled worldwide celebrating many Masses and conducting healing services. In his many ministries, he was always the champion of the sick, elderly, drug addicts and alcoholics and their families.
Father Whalen ministered in this capacity into his 90s. He retired in 2015, at the age of 92, to the La Salette community in Hartford.
In addition to his confreres, Father Whalen is survived by his children Joan Berg, Audrey Hayward, Barbie Cahill, Mark Whalen and Michael Whalen, all of Massachusetts, and 12 grandchildren. He was predeceased by his brothers George, Paul, James, John, Thomas and Leo.
A Mass of Christian Burial was concelebrated on Aug. 11, in the Hartford House chapel. Burial was on Aug. 12 at St. Francis Xavier Cemetery in Vermont.
Contributions in Father Whalen’s memory may be made to: Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette Retirement Fund, 915 Maple Ave., Hartford, CT 06114-2330.