R.I.P., Precious Blood Fr. Joseph Miller, 70, formerly of Sedalia


Precious Blood Father Joseph E. Miller, 70, a former associate pastor in Sedalia, died on March 16.

He was a priest of the Kansas City Province of the Missionary Society of the Precious Blood and was serving as pastor of St. Francis Xavier Parish in St. Joseph at the time of his death.

The Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on March 19 in St. James Church in Liberty.

Precious Blood Father Joseph Bathke, the homilist, noted that God’s Word was Fr. Miller’s strength, hope and love.

“He attempted to bring his spirituality into this world as the beacon of light, as a sign of hope, but most of all, as a sign of stability, that God’s Word has power in this world,” said Fr. Bathke, who is pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Warrensburg.

Fr. Bathke also pointed to Fr. Miller’s penchant for bringing visual aids into his preaching.

These were symbols of hope and of God’s constant and immediate presence.

“Father Joseph could go anyplace in this world and have no fear,” said Fr. Bathke. “You know why? Because he believed that God had already been there and done that.”

Fr. Miller was born in Bellevue, Ohio, on Aug. 13, 1950, a son of Alfred and Agnes (Hay) Miller.

He entered formation with the Society of the Precious Blood at Brunnerdale Seminary in Canton, Ohio, in September 1964.

He graduated from St. Joseph’s College in Rennselaer, Indiana, in 1973 and became a pledged candidate on May 23, 1973.

He was definitively incorporated as a Missionary of the Precious Blood on April 15, 1976.

He received his M.Div. in Theology from St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota in 1977.

He was ordained to the Holy Priesthood on June 18, 1977, in Immaculate Conception Church, Bellevue, Ohio.

He served briefly as associate pastor of the former Sacred Heart Parish in Sedalia before serving for five years as vocation director for the Kansas City Province.

He then taught math at the former Precious Blood Seminary in Liberty, followed by serving for seven years as associate pastor of St. Francis Xavier Parish in St. Joseph.

He served briefly at St. James Parish in Liberty before undertaking a sabbatical program at the University of Notre Dame.

He served for two years as pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish in Butternut, Wisconsin, followed by 11 years as pastor at St. Mary Parish in Centerville, Iowa.

He then ministered for three years as pastor of St. James Parish in Liberty, followed by four years as the province’s vocation director.

He returned to Sedalia as associate pastor in 2011, followed by five years as pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Warrensburg before returning to St. Francis Xavier Parish in St. Joseph, where he served as pastor until his death.

Fr. Miller was known for his dedication and hard work wherever he served. He was always willing to go where needed, and many were familiar with his boundless energy and ever-present smile.

He was a person of principle, empathetic but clear when speaking of the values by which he lived.

Preceding him in death were his parents and his brother, Eugene.

Surviving are three brothers and their wives, Paul (Debbie), Clayton (Marilyn), and Charles; and eight sisters, Bertha (Terry) Eisenhauer, Rose (Leroy) Nelson, Ann (Jim) Mellein, Helen (Dale) Gasteier, Martha Turner, Bernie Stockmaster, Rita (Frank) Smith, and Catherine (Gus) McConnell.

Burial was in the cemetery at St. Charles Center in Carthagena, Ohio.

Expressions of sympathy may be sent to the Society of the Precious Blood, 2130 Saint Gaspar Way, Liberty, MO 64068.

A video recording of the livestream from the Funeral Mass can be found on the St. James Liberty, MO Facebook page.