ASIA MEDIA INTERNATIONAL WRITES — William J. Fulco, SJ, died recently after a long illness – but after long and devoted service to this university. And, much like other Jesuits on this campus, he was a source of inspiration and ideas to those of us at AMI who’d need a bit of serious uplift from time to time. On one occasion, he served to offer the invocation prayer at the annual gala dinner of the Pacific Century Institute, which is a strategic partner of Asia Media International. And then … Rather than continue with a narrative of our grateful memory of this learned Jesuit, instead we reprint in full the knowledgeable and very moving statement by LMU President Timothy Law Snyder.
Dear LMU Community (11/30/2021):
I am saddened to share that the Rev. William J. Fulco, S.J., a Jesuit priest and the retired National Endowment for the Humanities Chair of Ancient Mediterranean Studies, passed away on Nov. 28, 2021, of a longtime illness at the Sacred Heart Jesuit Center in Los Gatos, California. He was 85 years old.Father Fulco joined LMU in August 1998, and through his retirement in 2019, he established himself as a scholar, teacher, curator, mentor, and raconteur. A popular teacher, Father Fulco’s courses covered an impressive range of topics: “God and the World of Ancient Israel”; ancient religions; music culture in ancient Palestine; ancient Near Eastern languages; Near Eastern archaeology; biblical archaeology and Old Testament studies; and classical numismatics. He traveled the world exploring those subjects, and he made archeological travel available for LMU students, annually sponsoring digs across the globe through his NEH funding. In 2007, LMU recognized him with the President’s Fritz B. Burns Distinguished Teaching Award, one of the highest honors bestowed on faculty by the university. Father Fulco founded LMU Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts’ Archaeology Center to study and display the collected and preserved museum-quality artifacts he acquired during his travels. His scholarship in the Aramaic language led him to be the advisor for the film “The Passion of the Christ.” He also advised on the films “The Nativity Story” (2006) and “Jesus VR: The Story of Christ” (2016), and the television documentary series “Ancient Aliens” (2010 -13). Father Fulco worked extensively with the Pontifical Biblical Institute Museum in Jerusalem and made a transformative impact through his work with Alcoholics Anonymous, speaking at retreats across the United States. He was the classic Jesuit academic, equally at home on an archeological dig as in the classroom. Father Fulco embraced, with his characteristic animated joy, whatever project lay in front of him. He was a devoted member of LMU’s Jesuit Community, a highly engaged faculty advisor, and he remained connected with his former students over the years, always present to celebrate sacraments and offer advice. His contributions and impact inspired the formation of the Father Fulco Balanced Living Scholarship, reflecting his work over the years with Sigma Phi Epsilon and benefiting first-year students. A native Angeleno, Father Fulco was born in the Leimert Park area, graduated from Loyola High School and joined the Society of Jesus in 1954. He was ordained in 1966. Father Fulco earned his Ph.D. in Near Eastern languages and literatures from Yale University. He earned his B.A. at Santa Clara University and his M.A. at Gonzaga University. He also held a Licentiate of Sacred Theology and Master of Sacred Theology from the Jesuit School of Theology, Berkeley, California. Please keep Bill, his family, colleagues, fellow Jesuits, students, and his many friends in your prayers.
Sincerely, Timothy Law Snyder, Ph.D.
2 Replies to “IN MEMORY OF A JESUIT PRIEST: FR WILLIAM J FULCO”
I’m deeply devastated by the news of the death of Bill. We had been friends since 2020 and in him I learned of the humility of a learned cleric!
It’s today, January 11th that I have learned of his death! He always prayed for me. I will always pray for him too.
Rest with Jesus whom you evangelised while still you still lived!
I had William J. Fulco, then a scolastic, as my 2nd year Latin teacher at Bellarmine Prep in San Jose during the 1962-63 school year.
First day of class Mr. Fulco said he had it on good authority that 15 year olds have an attention span of 10 minutes. Anything that takes longer than 10 minutes is a waste of time.
Consequently our Latin instruction would be limited to 10 minutes. The rest of the hour would be composed of instruction in Aramaic and other Semitic language, along with the odd ghost story here and there.
Before class Mr Fulco would fill all the green blackboards with Latin words and phrases. I will never forget how his black robes would go flying as he pirouetted from board to board.
Once class got underway he’d tap each word or phrase as worked his way around the room while drilling us on the finer points of Latin spelling and syntax.
We were finished with each lesson in ten minutes flat and were able to move on to all the fun stuff. We learned just as much Latin as all the other sophomore classes, we just did it at a breakneck pace.
All of which led me to the conclusion that that most of the school day is wasted at the average high school. William J. Fulco made the difference for us, and the affect he had on us was indelible. He was unique.