Father Alfred John Hulscher, former prior of Saint Martin’s Abbey in Lacey, died Thursday evening at Providence Mother Joseph Care Center in Olympia. He was 82.
Hulscher held several positions at the now-defunct Saint Martin’s High School, including chaplain, student counselor, librarian and principal. After the school closed in 1974, Hulscher began managing the abbey’s finances. He also taught German at Saint Martin’s University.
He was one of eight monks profiled last spring in “Behind the Cloister,” a special section that ran on Easter in The Olympian and The News Tribune. For more than a year, a reporter and a photographer were able to witness the monks’ lifestyle firsthand, more than any other outsiders have been allowed to do in the monastery’s 121-year history, according to Saint Martin’s Abbot Neal Roth.
For Hulscher, becoming a monk was a calling that fit his personality.
“There’s a certain consistency of being a monk — in other words, a certain stability,” Hulscher said in 2015. “I’m not a person who likes a lot of changes going on all the time.”
Born Dec. 15, 1933, in Tacoma, Hulscher attended Visitation Catholic School. He applied to join the monastery in July 1954 after attending four years at Saint Martin’s High School and two years at its college.
Over the years, Hulscher trained to take on numerous roles at the school and earned five college degrees, including master’s degrees in library science, German and counseling psychology. He was ordained a Roman Catholic priest on May 21, 1960.
Hulscher moved into Mother Joseph a little more than a year ago because of complications from heart surgery. At one point, he was close to returning to the monastery, but then other health issues arose, Roth said. About a week ago, he transitioned to hospice care.
The Benedictine monastery, which founded Saint Martin’s University in Lacey and continues to play a key role at the private school, once had nearly 100 members. Today, its membership has dwindled to about 25.
On Wednesday, the abbey held a funeral for Brother Theodore Vavrek, who died Jan. 13 at Mother Joseph. He was 73.
Funeral arrangements for Hulscher are pending, according to a post on the abbey’s Facebook page.