Jesuit Father Thomas E. Buckley, professor emeritus of history at Santa Clara University and long-time professor of history at Loyola Marymount University, died on Nov. 8, 2017, at Sacred Heart Jesuit Center, in Los Gatos, California. A fall in his home led to complications leading to his passing. He was 78, a member of the Society of Jesus for 58 years, and a priest for 47 years.
Fr. Buckley was born in Fort Bragg, N.C., on September 24, 1939, the youngest of five children in a military family. His father, Col. Michael Buckley, was posted to several stateside and foreign locations, so Fr. Buckley grew up in San Jose, Yokohama, Japan, Rumson, N.J., San Francisco, Arlington, Virginia, and finally back in San Jose.
He graduated from Bellarmine College Preparatory in San Jose, and entered the Jesuit novitiate at Los Gatos in 1957. His Jesuit studies were made at Gonzaga University (BA, 1963, PhL, 1964, philosophy and history) and at Weston College in Weston, Mass., (MDiv, 1970, theology). He was ordained a priest in San Francisco on June 20, 1970. His academic interest was in history and he earned an MA at Loyola Marymount University (1969) and a PhD at the University of California, Santa Barbara (1974).
Before ordination, Fr. Buckley taught U.S. history and civics at St. Ignatius College Prep in San Francisco from 1964-67. After completion of his studies, he taught at Loyola Marymount University from 1974 until 1995, with intervening periods as visiting professor at the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome. He was Bannon Foundation Visiting Professor at Santa Clara University (1995-1996), before beginning a tenure at the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University in Berkeley, as professor of Church history and modern Christian history (1996-2012), with one year as Gasson Professor of Modern Church History at Boston College (2010-2011). From 2012-2017, he taught at Loyola Marymount University, before returning to Santa Clara this year.
He was the author of several well-received books in American history of the colonial period, including “Church and State in Revolutionary Virginia” (1977), “Establishing Religious Freedom: Jefferson’s Statute in Virginia” (2013), and two books on courtship and divorce in the colonial and Ante-Bellum periods.
Fr. Buckley is survived by his brother, Fr. Mike Buckley, SJ, of Sacred Heart Jesuit Center, Los Gatos, and 12 nieces and nephews, including Patricia Carlson of Chicago, Mary Pope-Handy of Los Gatos, and Stephen Pope of Boston, as well as many cousins, grand nieces and nephews, and a huge number of former students and friends.