Home Our Diocese Oblate Father William J. Hultberg, Wilmington native, dies at 88

Oblate Father William J. Hultberg, Wilmington native, dies at 88

Father William J. Hultberg

CHILDS, Md. – Father William J. Hultberg, an Oblate of St. Francis de Sales and Wilmington native, died Sept. 6. He was 88 and was a priest for 57 years.

Father Hultberg graduated from Salesianum School in 1949 and entered the Oblates the next year. He left the congregation in 1953 to join the U.S. Army and, after his discharge two years later, earned a degree in education from LaSalle College. He re-entered the Oblates in 1958 and was ordained at St. Anthony of Padua Church in Wilmington in 1962.

Father Hultberg was a teacher for a few years and also a reserve chaplain in the U.S. Navy. He spent three years on active duty during the Vietnam War, including a stint in Vietnam with the 1st Marine Division. He was awarded the Bronze Star for his service in Vietnam.

He went back to teaching in Virginia, but in 1976 he was recalled to active duty with the Army to work in its substance-abuse program in El Paso, Texas. He retired from active duty in 1983 with the rank of lieutenant colonel, although he continued as a reservist until 1991 for a total of 35 years of military service.

In 1984, Father Hultberg began his ministry at the Caron Foundation in Wernersville, Pa., as an addiction counselor. From 1987-2003 he was the director of pastoral care, and in 1995 he was appointed assistant to the president. He developed and implemented a spiritual program of support for HIV-positive and AIDS patients. He received the Ryan White National Award in 2000 in the faith-based category for his spiritual retreat program for those infected with HIV and others affected by the disease.

He retired to the Salesianum Oblate Community in 2015 but continued to help at Caron with weekend programs until his transfer to Childs in 2018. Father Hultberg was inducted into Salesianum’s Hall of Fame in 2016.

Services were held at Immaculate Conception Church in Elkton, Md., and burial was in the Oblate Cemetery in Childs. Contributions in his memory can be made to the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales, 2200 Kentmere Parkway, Wilmington, DE 19806.