Obituary: Msgr. Wendell Searles
Msgr. Wendell Searles, 89, died Oct. 20.
He was born on Feb. 13, 1929, in Alburgh, the son of Carroll and Helen (Surprise) Searles. He was a graduate of Alburg Grammar and High School, St. Michael’s College in Colchester and St. John’s Seminary in Brighton, Massachusetts. He was ordained to the priesthood on Jan. 18, 1955, by Burlington Bishop Edward Ryan.
His priestly ministry began as parochial vicar at Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Burlington (1955). He was appointed assistant principal at Cathedral High School in Burlington on April 17, 1956, and studied at Columbia University summer school in 1958. From June 23, 1960, to July 15, 1966, he was principal at Mount St. Joseph Academy in Rutland. He was then appointed principal at Rice Memorial High School in South Burlington from July 15, 1966, to July 1, 1975. Msgr. Searles was parochial vicar at Holy Cross Church, Colchester, from June 29, 1977, to June 25, 1980, and pastor there from June 25, 1980, until June 19, 1984. He was pastor of St. Augustine Church in Montpelier from June 20, 1984, until June 28, 1995.
Msgr. Searle’s diocesan responsibilities included president of the Priest’s Senate and consultor of the Diocese, director of religious education and diocesan director of pastoral planning. He served on the Diocesan Administrative Board, Personnel Committee, Presbyteral Council and Board of Consultors and was appointed episcopal vicar for education, advisory committee on alcoholism and Office of Safe Environment.
He served as vicar general from Sept. 26, 1998, until July 5, 2006, and was granted senior priest status on July 5, 2006. He subsequently served as chaplain for the Sisters of Mercy, administrator of St. Stephen Parish in Winooski and chaplain at St. Joseph Home in Burlington.
He was appointed a protonotary apostolic with the title monsignor by Pope Benedict XVI in 2005.
He was predeceased by his parents and his three sisters — Glennis, Elaine and Connie. He is survived by numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Oct. 25 at St. John Vianney Church, South Burlington, at 11 a.m. with Burlington Bishop Christopher Coyne as principal celebrant. Calling hours will be Oct. 24, from 4 to 7 p.m. at St. John Vianney Church, and from 10 to 10:45 a.m. before the Mass. Burial will take place at Resurrection Park Cemetery.