Fr. Wayne Epperley, C.S.Sp., Old St. Mary’s pastor, remembered as holy, unassuming

Fr. Wayne Epperley, C.S.Sp., passed away on July 3. He was 66. 

DETROIT — Fr. Wayne Epperley, C.S.Sp., passed away on July 3, after a brief illness. He was 66. 

Fr. Epperley served as pastor of Old St. Mary’s Parish in Greektown, Detroit from 2012 to 2020, after spending a lifetime of service around the United States and in South and Central America as a part of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit. 

During his time in Detroit, he profoundly impacted the church community at Old St. Mary’s and will be greatly missed, said Randy Bowers, parish operations manager at Old St. Mary's.

“He was a wonderful, holy priest,” Bowers said. “The parishioners here just loved him. He would draw people from about a 60-mile radius, and he will be sorely missed.”

Fr. Epperley was quiet, unassuming and very holy, drawing parishioners to Old St. Mary’s from all over southeast Michigan. (Photo courtesy  The Congregation of the Holy Spirit) 

Wayne Epperley was born in Ludwigshafen, Rhineland-Palatinate in Germany to Thelma and Warren Thomas Epperley on Jan. 4, 1954. He professed his vows as a member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (the Spiritans) on Aug. 1, 1978 at the Holy Ghost Novitiate in Ferndale, Conn., before his ordination to the priesthood on Oct. 1, 1983 at St. Marguerite’s Church in Tooele, Utah.  

Shortly after his ordination, he was assigned to the Spiritan mission in Mexico, serving there for seven years. He was briefly assigned to a parish in Arizona before receiving the opportunity to serve in the Spiritan missions in Brazil. 

Following his service in the missions, he served as pastor or associate pastor in parishes across the western United States, including California, Colorado and Utah until his appointment to Old St. Mary’s in 2012. 

Fr. Epperley was appointed administrator of nearby Holy Family Parish in Detroit in April 2019.

Fr. Wayne Epperley spent most of his life serving at various Spiritan missions across the United States and Central and South America. He was assigned to Old St. Mary’s Catholic Church in 2012. (Photo courtesy Old St. Mary’s Parish)

“It was just supposed to be a temporary stop,” Bowers said of Fr. Epperley's appointment to Old St. Mary's. “It was probably one of the best things that ever happened to this community.”

Bowers said that Fr. Epperley's passing leaves a hole in the Old St. Mary’s community that will be hard to fill. 

“He was quiet, unassuming but very holy,” Bowers said. “He did so many things for so many people that he did quietly while going about his daily business.”

Fr. Epperley was preceded in death by his parents and is survived by his two brothers, Tom and Paul, and their families. Condolences may be sent to Fr Epperley’s brother, Paul Epperley, 4009 Diamond Loch W., North Richland Hills, Texas 76180.

In memory of Fr. Epperley, donations may be made to the Congregation of the Holy Spirit designated for retirement or for the educations of future Holy Spirit Fathers and Brothers, 6230 Brush Run Road, Bethel Park PA 15102.