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Diocese of Rockville Centre

Obituary Monsignor John J. Wiest Print E-mail

Pastor Emeritus, St. Mary’s Church, Manhasset
Former Rector, St. Pius X Preparatory Seminary

Monsignor John J. Wiest, who marked his 65th anniversary as a priest earlier this month, died after a long illness on June 13, 2006. He was 88 years old.

Born in Brooklyn on November 9, 1917 to the late Augustus and Margaret Heffernan Wiest, John Wiest attended Public School 97 and St. John’s Prep in Brooklyn. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in 1937 from Holy Cross College in Worcester, Massachusetts, a Master of Arts from New York University’s School of Education in 1944, and studied for the priesthood at the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington.

He was ordained a priest by Bishop Thomas Molloy at St. James Pro Cathedral in Brooklyn on June 7, 1941.

After a year as an associate pastor at Our Lady of Loretto Parish in Hempstead, Father Wiest was asked to teach speech, english and religion at Cathedral College in Brooklyn. Eight years later in 1950, he returned to parish work as an associate pastor assigned to Our Lady Help of Christians Parish in Brooklyn. In 1953, he was transferred to serve as an associate pastor at St. Anthony of Padua Church in East Northport.

Shortly after the creation of the Diocese of Rockville Centre in 1957, founding Bishop Walter P. Kellenberg established a “minor” or “preparatory” seminary. The six-year curriculum at St. Pius X Preparatory Seminary included four years of high school classes and two years of college coursework. Father Wiest was selected to be the prefect of studies and taught English at the new school which opened in temporary headquarters in a former Greek Orthodox church in Hempstead in 1958. He was also the founder of the school newspaper. In 1963, Father Wiest was named the second rector of St. Pius X Preparatory Seminary in Uniondale following the appointment of the first rector, Monsignor James Coffey, to rector of the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington. As rector, Father Wiest prayed the invocation at the graduation ceremony for the first graduating class in 1964.

Father Wiest returned to parish work as pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in West Islip in 1967. Two years later, he was named pastor of the St. Mary’s Parish in Manhasset where he would serve until his retirement in 1987.

Father Wiest served on the Board of Directors of St. Francis Hospital in Roslyn from 1974 to 1987, two of those years as Director. He also served as a trustee of the Cathedral College of the Immaculate Conception in Douglaston, on the Board of Catholic Charities, as a delegate to the Priests’ Advisory Council, a member of the Priests Senate and as a member of the Priests’ Retirement Board.

In 1980, Father Wiest was named an Honorary Prelate to his Holiness by Pope John Paul II with the title of Monsignor.

A wake for Monsignor Wiest will be held on Friday, June 16, 2006 from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. in the Marian Room of the Parish Ministry Center of the Church of Saint Mary in Manhasset.

A Mass of Transferral will be celebrated that evening at 7:30 p.m. by Monsignor John McCann in the Church of Saint Mary. Father Kevin Smith will be the homilist.

Bishop William Murphy will be the principal celebrant at the funeral Mass on Saturday, June 17, at 11:00 a.m. in the Church of Saint Mary. The homilist will be Father Peter LeJacq, MM.

Burial will be at Holy Cross Cemetery, Brooklyn.

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About The Diocese of Rockville Centre
The Diocese of Rockville Centre was formed in 1957 and covers 1,222 square miles in Nassau and Suffolk Counties. The diocese serves approximately 1.4 million Catholics (total population in both counties is approximately 3.3 million). There are 134 parishes in 115 towns. Last year over 20,000 baptisms, 18,000 confirmations, 20,000 first communions and 5,000 marriages took place in the diocese. There are 2,137 students in Catholic kindergarten, 23,825 in primary or elementary school, 12,628 in secondary school and 3,300 in higher institutions. There are 76 Catholic elementary and high schools and one Catholic college in the diocese. Catholic Health Services of Long Island consists of five hospitals, three nursing homes, two home-care agencies, two senior housing complexes, a community-based home for those with special needs and a hospice. Last year, Catholic Charities assisted more than 68,000 individuals who are poor, vulnerable and disadvantaged on Long Island. For more information, visit

For more information:
Sean P. Dolan
516-678-5800, ext. 625