Fr Mark Whelehan, CP

1926 - 2024 RIP

The Passionist priest Fr. Mark Whelehan sadly passed away peacefully on the 29th  February 2024 in the Community Hospital in Stanhope where he had received the Sacrament of the Sick and the Commendation of the dying prayers He was surrounded in his last hours by his niece and the Passionist Community from Minsteracres.

Mark was born in Ireland on the 8th  May 1926 in Kilbeggan, County Westmeath to his parents Thomas and Georgina (formerly Rowan).  His father Thomas was a well-known GAA player in Dublin and Westmeath and was umpire on “Bloody Sunday” in 1920. Georgina passed away in 1929 leaving Thomas to rear their two sons Mark and Raymond. The loss of their mother gave them enormous respect and gratitude for life and creating meaningful relationships.

Mark, in the later days of the second world war, left Ireland to go to the Junior Seminary, Blythe Hall, in Ormskirk, Lancashire, and his journey as a Passionist began.

In those days the novitiate house was in Broadway, Worcestershire; Mark says he never found the novitiate year difficult, he said that because they were in the country, and immediately after the war rationing was taking place, they were never short of food. Having completed his novitiate he made his Profession (taking the vows of poverty, chastity, obedience, and a promise to promote knowledge of and devotion to the Passion). This he did in Broadway on 7th. November 1947.


Years of study of theology, philosophy and “sacred eloquence” (preaching) followed until he was ordained in Highgate, London on 27 February 1954.

Moving back to Broadway he was appointed vice novice master under Fr. Benignus in November 1955. Mark was appointed Master of Novices in August 1962.

The number of novices declined over the years and Mark became increasingly involved in  the work of retreats, primarily at Minsteracres and other Passionist addresses.

Mark’s was always looking for new ways for Minsteracres to stay  relevant and partly commercial with having a bar available and later the shop. His involvement in the shop gave Mark great pleasure and in his later years allowed him to feel he was contributing to the community. We will never know all the good he did in that shop.  And there is a clue there to the heart of the man: He was a man of prayer. Even in recent years he was always in the chapel by 7.30 doing his meditation. Again at 12.10 he made his visit to the Blessed Sacrament; and then he was back in the chapel for more meditation at 5.30. It was extremely rare that he did not maintain that schedule; in fact in recent years, if he was not there, the community would be concerned – it was like the sun not rising.

The death of Fr Mark is not the end. His story will continue and the good and healing work he did will continue to affect the lives of thousands. Mark was able to introduce some of his novices to the postman whose father had brought the Wellingtonia trees on his bicycle up from Riding Mill Station, two at a time. More than 150 years later the Wellingtonias are standing good and strong. No doubt the memory of Fr. Mark Whelehan in 150 years will be as good and strong.

May his soul rest in peace.