WHEELING, W.Va., April 25, 2017 -- Rev. Walter A. Buckius, S.J., who served Wheeling Jesuit and the greater Wheeling community from 1973 until his retirement in 2011, died Tuesday, April 25, at Manresa Hall in Philadelphia.
Fr. Buckius was born in Lancaster, Pa. on July 13, 1920, and graduated from Lancaster Catholic High School. After two years at Georgetown College in Washington, D.C., he entered the Society of Jesus at the Novitiate of St. Isaac Jogues in Wernersville, Pa. in 1940. He attended West Baden College in Indiana and received his B.A. and Licentiate in Philosophy of Sacred Theology from Woodstock College in Woodstock, Md., and was ordained a priest on June 22, 1952.
As a Jesuit scholastic, Fr. 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, Fr. 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 chaplain for two years and then associate chaplain for eight. From 1995 to 2000, he was the assistant director of campus ministry, and continued his work in spiritual direction through 2011. He told his students, faculty and fellow Jesuits upon leaving Wheeling Jesuit, “Live your life with an open heart and you will see the image of Christ in all that you do.”
Fr. Buckius then moved to the Colombiere Jesuit Community in Baltimore, praying for the Church and the Society of Jesus. This past September, he celebrated his 75th anniversary in the Society of Jesus with close friends, WJU alumni, Sisters of the Visitation and his fellow Jesuit brothers. He was, at that time, the oldest Jesuit in the Maryland Province.
During his 75th anniversary celebration, Fr. Buckius said “I love Wheeling with all my heart. The people are so kind, and although I do miss the beautiful hills of West Virginia, I am happy to be living with my brothers praying for those in need.”
Visitation for Fr. Buckius will be held from 7 to 8:30 p.m., Thursday, April 27, with prayer service at 7 p.m. at Colombiere Jesuit Community, 5704 Roland Ave., Baltimore, Md.
A Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10:30 a.m., Friday, April 28, with viewing from 9:15 to 10:15 a.m., at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, 13717 Cuba Rd., Hunt Valley, Md. (Shawan Road West Exit off Rt. 83).