Died 17 July 2014
Jesuit Father Harry A. (Bert) Akers, 83, died on July 17, 2014, at the Jesuit Center in Wernersville, Pennsylvania. He was a Jesuit for 65 years and a priest for 53 years.
Fr. Akers, son of Harry A. Akers and Mildred M. Stephens, was born on Aug. 31, 1930, in Baltimore. Following graduation from Loyola High School in Towson, Maryland, he entered the Society of Jesus on July 30, 1948, at the Novitiate of St. Isaac Jogues in Wernersville, Pennsylvania, and there pronounced his first vows on July 31, 1950. After pursuing juniorate (college) studies at Wernersville from 1950 to 1952, Fr. Akers was sent to study philosophy at Saint Louis University from 1952 to 1955, where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy in 1954 and a licentiate in philosophy in 1955.
As a Jesuit scholastic, Fr. Akers taught juniors English, Latin, Greek and religion at Georgetown Preparatory School in North Bethesda, Maryland, from 1955 to 1958 before being sent to study theology from 1958 to 1961 at Jesuitenkolleg in Innsbruck, Austria, where he was ordained to the priesthood at Trinity Church in Innsbruck by Bishop Paul Rusch on June 26, 1961. Following another year of theological studies at Woodstock College in Maryland and a year of tertianship at the Jesuit Martyrs Shrine in Auriesville, New York, in 1963, Fr. Akers returned to Woodstock College where after pursuing a Biennium in theology, he received a Doctorate in Sacred Theology in 1965. Fr. Akers made his final vows in the Society of Jesus on August 15, 1965, at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
In 1965, Fr. Akers began his priestly ministry at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania, as professor of theology and chairman of department until 1969, when he was assigned to Saint Louis University to begin work in communications as director of radio and television until 1976. After serving as secretary to the Jesuit Conference in Washington, D.C., for two years, he returned to his work in communications as a teacher of communication arts at Loyola University of Chicago (1978-1981). He then pursued work in communications at the John XXIII Ecumenical Center in St. Louis (1981-1982), was director of radio and television for the Diocese of Galveston-Houston (1982-1986) and taught communications at the University of Scranton (1986-1992).
Following a year as a professor of philosophy and religious studies at Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia, Fr. Akers engaged in pastoral work as an associate pastor at St. Mary’s Star of the Sea in Ocean City, Maryland (1993-1999); Holy Trinity Church in Washington, D.C. (1999-2004); Immaculate Conception Church in Baltimore (2004-2010); and as pastoral minister at the Jesuit Center in Wernersville until his death.