Our Catholic Academy Trust is named after Rt Rev. William Gordon Wheeler, who was the seventh Bishop of Leeds from 1966 until 1985.
In 2011, the Diocese of Leeds proposed five Academy Trusts, each to be named after a Bishop of Leeds.
Bishop Wheeler was a much loved and respected figure in our diocese, and far beyond. The motto on his episcopal coat of arms was “Veritas et Caritas” (Truth and Love) and the essence of his life as both priest and bishop was his abiding desire to serve the Church in truth and love.
Bishop Wheeler Quotes
“When I became a Bishop I found a very great difference between a parish that had a Catholic school, – and by that I generally mean a Catholic primary school – and those who hadn’t. There was a whole difference in ethos. There was a lacuna, a gap in those places where there was not a Catholic primary school.”
“The Church maintains that children ought to have the advantage of a Catholic school throughout the period of their education”
“A first class school is almost always the product of a dedicated and talented Headteacher and staff. The staff are vitally important in any school: so important they can determine the whole atmosphere of the place. There is everything to be said for the Catholic school when it has got a really dedicated Catholic staff because to teach is a high vocation in the eyes of the Church. So one would hope our schools will always play their full role in the Catholic community.”
“A Bishop has always got to remember that he is a priest.”
“Hope is one of the three great virtues: faith, hope and love. With the growth of hope there should be equally a growth of faith as well as a growth of love. These things are a kind of trinity in themselves and a kind of unity.”
“As one gets older one sees the patter of one’s life and is more and more filled with gratitude to God for all His goodness and the caring of his Divine Providence. Of course in all lives there have been many sorrows and sadnesses but all in all I am filled with joy and gratitude when I think of all the wonderful people that I have known and loved and all the lovely things that have happened to me”
“Perhaps it is a good thing to have known failure in one’s life!”
“In my experience most of the things one hears about old age and retirement tend to be very pessimistic.”
“We are called to bear witness to our Faith, above all with love. And we do above all because we love our countries and long to save them and our children and all our people from the degradation of our time...Spiritual renewal and spiritual steadfastness, like that of our Martyrs , is the only antidote."
“God can bring about events surpassing our wildest dreams.”
On his ordination card in 1940:
Mary, Mother of Grace
Sweet Mother of Mercy
Keep us from all evil
And be with us at death’s hour
“When the Spirit of truth comes he will lead you to the complete truth, since he will not be speaking of his own accord, but will say only what he has been told; and he will reveal to you the things to come.”
Bishop Wheeler's Life Timeline
Born on May 5 1910 Born in the village of Dobcross near Saddleworth, then in the West Riding of Yorkshire (now in the Metropolitan Borough of Oldham), England.
Moved to Worlsey in Lancashire after the outbreak of World War 1 to live with grandparents and aunts.
Went to Manchester Grammar School
Went to University College, Oxford to study History and then Theology.
Received into the Catholic Church (aged 26) at Downside Abbey, went straight to Rome to study for the Priesthood (at Beda College).
Curate at St Edmund’s, Lower Edmonton in North London during the worst years of World War 2.
Chaplain at Westminster Cathedral
Chaplain to the Catholics at the University of London
Administrator of Westminster Cathedral (directed the liturgical and pastoral life of the cathedral)
Coadjutor to the Bishop of Middlesborough, attended the later sessions of the Second Vatican Council.
Served as our Bishop of Leeds
Retired, submitting resignation to Pope John Paul II having reached the Canonical Age for retirement (75). Succeeded as Bishop of Leeds by David Every Konstant
Spent a very happy retirement in the College of the Blesssed Virgin Mary at Headingley under the caring umbrella of the Little Sisters of the Poor
Autobiography In Truth and Love published.
Died on 21 February aged 87, after a brief illness
Bishop Wheeler Interesting Facts
His last wish was to be laid to rest a stone’s throw from Bishop Poskitt, also a convert from Anglicanism, in the crypt of the church of Clifford, near Wetherby.
His favourite academic subject at school was History
His sermons were famous for their elegance and force. He would preach with particular passion on the Resurrection standing not at a lectern, but directly in front of his congregation.
Bishop Wheeler lived at Eltofts, a stone-built house in the country a few miles outside Leeds. There he and his chaplains made a point of trying to solve The Times crossword everyday.
After Cardinal Heenan’s death, Bishop Wheeler was one of the front-runners for the See of Westminster and the red hat. As the Yorkshire Post pointed out at the time, he would certainly have been chosen if it hadn’t been for the frail health which dogged him for most of his life.
On his annual holiday in Whitby (in North Yorkshire), he would dress in a blue shirt and grey flannels and go down to the harbour to haggle with the fishermen landing their catches. Later he would return triumphantly, with a happy smile on his face, the newspaper-wrapped fish in one hand, and the sixpence he had saved in the other.
Bishop Wheeler Further Reading
- William Wheeler (bishop) [WIKIPEDIA ARTICLE]
- Bishop of Leeds [WIKIPEDIA ARTICLE]
- Diocese of Leeds [WIKIPEDIA ARTICLE]
- Obituary: The Right Rev Gordon Wheeler [THE INDEPENDENT]
- Bishop William Gordon Wheeler [CATHOLICHIRERARCHY.ORG]
- Obituary: Bishop Gordon Wheeler [CATHOLIC HERALD]
- Bishop Wheeler article February 28, 1998 [THE TABLET]
- Letter of his holiness John Paul II to Bishop Wheeler on the centenary of the Diocese of Leeds [VATICAN.VA]
- Bishop Wheeler photo gallery [FLICKR.COM]
- Bishop Wheeler Portrait [NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY]
- Autobiography: In Truth and Love, ISBN: 1872480098, Gowland & Co, Paperback, First printed 1990, reprinted 1991
- Autobiography: More Truth and Love, ISBN: 9781872480299, Gowland & Co, Paperback, 1994
- Biography, William Gordon Wheeler: A Journey into the Fullness of Faith, James Hagerty, ISBN: 978085244851 9, Gracewing, 2016