Cover photo for The Rev. Msgr. Michael J. Wilbers, KCHS's Obituary
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1946 Msgr. Wilbers 2023

The Rev. Msgr. Michael J. Wilbers, KCHS

June 12, 1946 — September 19, 2023

Jefferson City, Missouri

The Reverend Monsignor Michael Joseph Wilbers, KCHS, age 77, retired priest of the Diocese of Jefferson City, passed away peacefully Tuesday, September 19, 2023, at Heisinger Bluffs in Jefferson City.

Msgr. Wilbers was born on June 12, 1946, in Jefferson City, the son of the late Fred Louis and Julietta Elizabeth (Schwartze) Wilbers. 

He attended St. Peter’s Grade School, Jefferson City; St. Thomas Aquinas High School Seminary, Hannibal; and Immaculate Conception Seminary, Conception, Missouri.  He was ordained a deacon at St. Pius X Church, Moberly.

He was ordained a priest on February 26, 1972, at St. Peter Catholic Church, Jefferson City, by the Most Reverend Michael F. McAuliffe, Bishop of Jefferson City.

His pastoral assignments included: Associate Director, Diocesan Office of Religious Education and Associate Pastor of St. Pius X Church, Moberly, appointed March 13, 1972 until July 1974; Director, Diocesan Office of Religious Education, appointed July 1974 to August, 1981; Pastor, St. Thomas the Apostle Church, St. Thomas, appointed August 24, 1979; Chancellor of the Diocese, appointed June 1, 1981 until August 15, 1989; Vicar General of the Diocese, appointed January 3,1988 - Bishop John R. Gaydos reconfirmed him as Vicar General on September 9, 1997 and he served until July 1, 2002; Rector of the Cathedral of St. Joseph, appointed June 21, 1989-June 20, 1999; Canonical Pastor, St. Michael Church, Russellville, from 1991-1998; Pastor of Our Lady of the Lake Church, Lake Ozark, appointed June 30, 1999; Vicar for Administration, appointed September 9, 1999-February 1, 2013; Episcopal Vicar of the South, appointed July 1, 2002; and retired from active ministry on December 31, 2013.

Bishop McAuliffe nominated Father Wilbers as a Knight of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem in 1990.  Monsignor Wilbers held the rank of Knight Commander (KCHS) at the time of his death.  On February 14, 2000, Bishop Gaydos announced that Pope John Paul II had bestowed the title of Prelate of Honor to His Holiness on Monsignor Wilbers.

Monsignor Wilbers also served as a member of the Education Department of the Missouri Catholic Conference from 1974-1981.  He was a Priest Observer at the National Conference of Catholic Bishops/United States Catholic Conference of Bishops General Meeting of November 10-13, 1986.   He was a member of the Diocesan Lay Retirement Committee from 1981-1/31/13, an ex-officio member of the Priests Senate from 1981-1998 and the Presbyteral Council from 1998-2013, and a founding member of the Diocesan Excellence in Education Fund Board of Directors from 1989-January 31, 2013.

As Chancellor, beginning in 1981, he was a member of the College of Consultors, Priests’ Personnel Board, Diocesan Finance Committee, Archivist, Administrative Committee for the Diocesan Pastoral Committee and Priests Senate.  Monsignor Wilbers served as Finance Officer from 1983-1990.  Beginning in 1988 as Vicar General, he continued as a member of the College of Consultors, Priests’ Personnel Board, Diocesan Finance Committee and Priests Senate. 

Monsignor Wilbers also worked with the DPC Education and Administration Commissions 1974-97; Education Dept. of MCC 1974-81; Diocesan Chancellor 1981-8/89; Diocesan Finance Committee 1981 to 12-31-13; Priests’ Mutual Benefit Society 1981 to 12-31-13; Priests’ Senate 1981-5/98; College of Consultors 1983-12/31/13; Priests’ Personnel Board 3/98-12/31/13; Presbyteral Council 5/98 to 12-31-13; Episcopal Vicar of the South 7/1/02-12/31/13; Vicar for Administration 6/25/03-1/31/13; Catholic Diocese of Jefferson City Corporation 2008-1/31/13; Diocese of Jefferson City Real Estate Corporation 2008-1/31/13; Diocese of Jefferson City Jubilee Fund 9/30/07-1/31/13; and the Catholic Diocese of Jefferson City Fund 2006-12/31/13.

Monsignor Wilbers celebrated his 25th Anniversary of Holy Priesthood on March 2, 1997, at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Jefferson City.  He celebrated his 40th Anniversary of Holy Priesthood at Our Lady of the Lake Church, Lake Ozark with the parish family and friends on February 26, 2012.  He celebrated his 50th Anniversary with Bishop McKnight presenting him with a Papal Blessing from Pope Francis on February 27, 2023.

Monsignor Wilbers accompanied the Bishops of Jefferson City on two Ad Limina visits to Rome in 1998 and 2004 to meet with Pope St. John Paul II.

Survivors include his two sisters, Mary Helen Norfleet, Jefferson City; Julie (Dan) Wieberg, Jefferson City; four nephews and one niece, Eric (Wendy) Norfleet, Matt (Rebecca) Norfleet, Chris (Shelly) Wieberg, Kyle (Jessi) Wieberg, Laura (Jeff) Kempker; six great nephews and three great nieces, Brett Norfleet, Aaron Norfleet, Noah Wieberg, Zachary Wieberg, Luke Wieberg, Cole Wieberg, Holly Wieberg, Claire Kempker, Elise Kempker; and his brother priests.

He was preceded in death by his parents; and two brothers, Frederick Wilbers and David Wilbers.

Visitation will be held at St. Peter Catholic Church, Jefferson City, Missouri, on Sunday, September 24, 2023, from 4:00 until 6:00 p.m. with a Wake Service at 6:00 pm. presided by Very Reverend Christopher C. Cordes, Vicar for Priests.  There will be an additional visitation at the Cathedral of St. Joseph, Jefferson City, Missouri on Monday, September 25, 2023, from 9:30 until 10:30 a.m.

The concelebrated Mass of Christian Burial will follow at 11:00 a.m. at Cathedral of St. Joseph, Jefferson City, Missouri.  Most Reverend W. Shawn McKnight, Bishop of Jefferson City and Most Reverend John R. Gaydos, Bishop Emeritus of Jefferson City will preside, and Reverend Monsignor Robert A. Kurwicki, Vicar General will be the homilist.

Burial will follow at Resurrection Catholic Cemetery. 

In lieu of all flowers, Memorial Donations may be made to the Priests Mutual Benefit Society (PMBS), Diocesan Excellence in Education Fund (DEEF), or School Sisters of Notre Dame (SSND).

Services entrusted to Trimble Funeral Homes – Jefferson City.    trimblefunerals.com

To send flowers to the family in memory of The Rev. Msgr. Michael J. Wilbers, KCHS, please visit our flower store.

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