In dying, Father James Buckley found new ways to serve

In his life as a priest, Father James Buckley preached and taught, administered sacraments, led parishes and schools, advised on boards and committees, founded a group for men, and became a nationally known media figure.

In dying, he continued much of that work while facing his terminal cancer calmly, peacefully and matter-of-factly, finding meaning in his suffering.

Father  Buckley died June 10, about seven years after his diagnosis. He was 67.

A 7 p.m. vigil service was scheduled for Thursday, June 13, at Christ the King Parish in Omaha, where he served as senior associate pastor before retiring.

Visitation will be held at the church from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

His funeral will be 10 a.m. Friday, June 14, at Christ the King, followed by burial at Resurrection Cemetery in Omaha.

Father Buckley grew up in St. John the Evangelist Parish in Valley and started toward a business career, earning a bachelor’s degree in business and master’s degree in political science.

After discerning a call to be a priest, he entered the seminary and was ordained in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in 1990.

He served as an associate pastor there for a year before returning to the Archdiocese of Omaha to be near his mother, who was having health problems.

Father Buckley was incardinated as a priest of the archdiocese in 1994.

He served at several parishes, including St. Mary of the Seven Dolors in Osmond, St. Francis of Assisi in Humphrey, the former St. Patrick Parish in Omaha and St. Cecilia in Omaha.

Father Buckley also served as a consultant with the archdiocese’s Family Life Office. In the 1990s, he wrote a nationally syndicated column for Catholic publications about mass media and hosted a local radio talk show on KFAB. 

The cancer diagnosis seemed to give Father Buckley added zeal in his ministry. In 2018 he founded Croisé (pronounced kwaa-zay), a group dedicated to the spiritual formation of men, with an emphasis on Eucharistic adoration.

Several years before he received his diagnosis, he had a sense that he would die of the disease despite no history of it in his family, he told the Catholic Voice in 2019.

A few years later, after experiencing symptoms, a doctor gave him the grim news.

Yet, “I experienced zero anxiety,” Father Buckley said. He said he “had reconciled myself to this reality years earlier.”

He applied his suffering to his vocation as a priest, he said, to help him accomplish his mission from God.

Father Buckley was preceded in death by his parents, Michael and Betty Buckley.

Survivors include his brothers Michael Jr. (Baiming) and Joseph (Jenny); nephews Michael III and Garrett; other relatives and brother priests.

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