The Bishop of Lichfield, the Right Revd Dr Michael Ipgrave, has paid tribute to a popular priest who played a leading role in ministry to deaf people.
The Revd Dr Leonie (Lee) Wheeler died on Trinity Sunday, 27 May, aged 68, following a period of ill-health.
Lee grew up in Western Australia. After graduating from University she went on to study in Germany, Sussex University and at Oxford, where she completed her D Phil in 1980. As a teacher she moved to Lichfield Diocese as Deputy Head of Adcote School, Little Ness, in 1990. She was Youth and Childrens Adviser to the Shrewsbury Area (1994) and then for the Diocese from 1996 until 2004 when she began training for Ordination at Queens, Birmingham.
Lee was ordained in 2006 and served as Curate of Holy Trinity, Hadley and Christ Church, Wellington, until 2009 when she was appointed Priest in Charge of Church Aston and Chaplain amongst Deaf People. Ill-health led to her retirement in 2016.
Bishop Michael said: Lee had a distinguished ministry in the Diocese with the deaf community as well as with her parish. Her courage and faith in her final illness were inspirational. It seems fitting that she should have finally been called from this world on the Feast of the Life-giving Trinity.
Gill Behenna, National Deaf Ministry Adviser, added: Lee was outstanding at encouraging deaf people to discover their God-given gifts and to recognise their own calling. Her ministry enriched the ministry of the whole church.
A funeral service will be held at All Saints Church, Church Road, Baschurch SY4 2EF, on Tuesday 12 June at noon. All are welcome.