Father Walter A. Buckius, SJ, 96, died on April 25, 2017, at Manresa Hall, Philadelphia. He was born on July 13, 1920, the son of the late Harry Buckius and Mary Lammer Buckius. Father Buckius entered the Society of Jesus on July 30, 1940, at Wernersville, Pa.
Father spent much of his life as a spiritual formator of Jesuits and collegians at Wheeling Jesuit University, where he served as rector and academic counselor for long years until retirement. He also had a lifelong interest in the Philippine Community and for many years, spent a part of each year working in areas of the Philippines which rarely saw a priest.
Father Buckius graduated from Lancaster Catholic High School and after two years at Georgetown College in Washington, D.C., entered the Society of Jesus at the Novitiate of St. Isaac Jogues in Wernersville in 1940. He attended West Baden College in Indiana and received his Bachelor of Arts and Licentiate in Philosophy. He then earned a Bachelor of Sacred Theology from Woodstock College in Woodstock, Md., and was ordained a priest on June 22, 1952.
As a Jesuit scholastic, Father Buckius taught Latin, Greek and English at Georgetown Prep. Following ordination, he returned to the Novitiate of St. Isaac Jogues in Wernersville and served as socius to the novice master for brothers and as a spiritual father for brothers. In 1966, he spent two years as superior of the Carroll House in Washington, D.C., and then served five years as rector of Bishop’s Latin School in Pittsburgh.
In 1973, Father Buckius began his nearly 40-year tenure at Wheeling Jesuit University. He served his first decade as an academic counselor and rector, and in 1985 became the college chaplain for two years and then associate chaplain for eight. From 1995 to 2000, he served as assistant director of campus ministries, and continued his work in spiritual direction through 2011. He told his students, faculty and fellow Jesuits upon leaving, “Live your life with an open heart and you will see the image of Christ in all that you do.”
Father Buckius then moved to the Colombiere Jesuit Community in Baltimore, praying for the church and the Society of Jesus.
The Funeral Mass was celebrated April 28 at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Hunt Valley, Md. Interment was in the Jesuit Cemetery in Wernersville immediately following. A memorial Mass for Father Buckius will be celebrated May 10 at noon at St. Michael Church in Wheeling. All are invited to attend.