Msgr. Donald Sylvester Miller, 80, dies
CONCEPTION - Msgr. Donald Sylvester Miller, 80, died Dec. 14 at the St. Stephen
Infirmary at Conception Abbey, where he had lived since 2002.
Key file photo
In what turned out to be his last public appearance, Msgr. Donald Miller, right, attended the Solemn Vespers honoring the diocese's newly elevated monsignori held at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on Nov. 26.
Msgr. Miller was born in Parnell on June 16, 1916, the oldest son of Wyatt and
Esther Klaas Miller. His mother died in the flu epidemic of 1918, leaving
2-year-old Donald and 3- month-old Wyatt Junior to be raised by their father and
He attended a Catholic school in Conception Junction and graduated from Conception
Abbey High School and College. He attended Kenrick Theological Seminary in St.
He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of St. Joseph on May 30, 1942. His first
assignment was as assistant pastor at St. Joseph Cathedral, 1942-1954. During his
first year as a priest he also served as administrator for St. Joseph Church in
Chillicothe and St. Patrick Church in Maryville.
He was assigned as pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Hamilton in 1955, and served as
pastor of St. John La Lande Parish from 1958 to 1968. At that time he was assigned
to St. Louis Parish in Kansas City. In 1975 he was assigned to St. Mark Church in
According to Msgr. John Leitner, Father Miller did a lot of summer street preaching
in the early years of his priesthood, served on the marriage tribunal and conducted
high school dances on Sunday evenings.
Joyce Comfort of St. Patrick Parish in Kansas City remembered Father Miller as a
"new, rather shy priest at Cathedral." She said Father Miller would direct and
accompany the children's choir on a small, portable organ lodged between the left
aisle pews and the wall in the Cathedral.
From 1986 to 1989 Father Miller served as senior priest in residence at St. Patrick
in Kansas City, then at St. Gregory Barbarigo in Maryville, until his health began
to fail in 2002. He then retired to Conception Abbey Infirmary.
Pope Benedict XVI conferred papal honors on Father Miller in November 2006,
elevating him to a monsignor.
Msgr. Miller's body lay in state at St. Gregory Barbarigo on Dec. 18, where a
rosary was said. The body was then taken to Conception Abbey for a visitation, wake
service and rosary that evening.
A funeral Mass on Dec. 19 was presided over by Bishop Robert Finn. Father Charles
Tobin, pastor of St. Sabina Church, was the homilist.
Msgr. Miller was buried in Parnell.