Reverend Francis J. Buckley, S.J., noted theologian and prolific author of catechetical works, died July 9, 2013 after a long illness at Regis Infirmary, Sacred Heart Jesuit Center, Los Gatos, at the age of 84.
Frank was born in Los Angeles on August 31, 1928. After his junior year at Loyola High School, he attended the University of Notre Dame for a year before entering the Jesuit novitiate at Los Gatos on September 7, 1945. After receiving an MA in Philosophy from Gonzaga University, he taught Latin and English at Bellarmine College Prep, San Jose, 1952-1955, and began his study of theology at Alma College, Los Gatos, which led to his ordination to the priesthood in 1958. He taught theology at the University of San Francisco, 1960-1961, before pursuing studies at the Gregorian University, Rome, where he received a doctorate in theology in 1963. He then rejoined the faculty of the University of San Francisco, where he became a mainstay of the theology department as a teacher and administrator until his retirement in 2002. He remained in the USF Jesuit community until coming to Sacred Heart Jesuit Center in 2005.
While at USF, Frank taught both undergraduate and graduate courses in theology and religious studies. At various times he served as Department Chair and Director of Graduate Programs in Religious Education and Pastoral Ministries. He was also a member of the Board of Trustees of Loyola Marymount University, 1974-1989, and served in a similar capacity with other institutions.
Beginning in 1964 and continuing for several decades, Frank, along with Sister Maria de la Cruz Aymes, S.H. and others, produced perhaps the most successful and influential series of catechetical works for children in the post-Vatican II era. These six series were adopted my many parishes and schools throughout the English and Spanish speaking worlds. In addition, he was the author of 10 books and over 100 articles in professional journals and the popular press. He served as President and Board member of the College Theology Society, and maintained membership in many other professional organizations. He served as theological advisor to the United States Bishops at the 1977 Synod of Bishops on Catechetics in Rome, where he prepared several sections of the final document issued by the Synod.
Colleagues called him a “passionate educator, priest and person of faith” and “a playful storyteller, erudite lecturer, and imposing scholar;” his own term was “compulsive teacher and troublemaker.” He was a vigorous, creative and clear teacher and writer who communicated his love of the Bible and passion for discourse to his students and readers and he was not afraid to express his convictions, whether it concerned campus politics, the state of Catholic education or church affairs. He was pastoral in his priestly ministry, whether presiding at Masses, directing retreats, or in the confessional, where his sympathetic spirit was evident and appreciated.
He is survived by several cousins. Mass of Christian Burial will be held Tuesday, July 16, 2013, at 7:30 p.m. at St. Ignatius Church, 650 Parker Avenue, San Francisco 94118. Committal will be private.
Donations in memory of Fr. Buckley may be made to the California Province of the Society of Jesus, P.O. Box 68, Los Gatos, CA 95031 or to a charity of your choice.