“I’d die a happy man if my calling of theology professor and Jesuit priest would warrant the epitaph: ‘’He helped us recognize God’s presence in our lives.’” ~Fr. Richard Hauser, SJ
Let us pray in thanksgiving for the life of Fr. Richard J. Hauser, SJ, who died on April 3, 2018, at the Creighton University Jesuit Community in Omaha, Neb. He was 80 years old. May he rest in peace.
Fr. Hauser once said “I’d die a happy man if my calling of theology professor and Jesuit priest would warrant the epitaph: ‘’He helped us recognize God’s presence in our lives.’” Through both his academic administration and his spiritual mentorship, Fr. Hauser’s work at Creighton University exemplified those words. He spent more than forty years at Creighton, shaping the theology programs and serving as a spiritual guide for all who came to him. Beyond Creighton, Fr. Hauser wrote several books and articles, presented workshops and retreats, and served as a consultant for programs explaining Ignatian spirituality.
“I will miss the bantering back and forth, the quick jokes he always had,” said Fr. Timothy Lannon, SJ, former president of Creighton. “He could put you at ease with a smile. He’s been integral to the Jesuit mission and he’s been so integral not only to my introduction to and formation in the Jesuits, but to so many men of the Society of Jesus for so many years.”
Born and raised in Milwaukee, Wis., Fr. Hauser was the eldest of six children. When Fr. Hauser was attending Marquette University High School, the retreat master there had posed a question to the senior boys, “Do you want to become a Jesuit?” Hauser originally said no. In the next two months, however, through thoughtful prayer and discernment, he felt an “overwhelming peace and joy” whenever he asked Jesus if he should become a Jesuit priest. He entered the Society of Jesus as a novice in 1955 and was ordained a priest in 1968.
Fr. Hauser intended to become a high school history teacher but, once again, God pulled him in a different direction. During his Jesuit formation, Fr. Hauser gave retreats for college students while teaching at St. Louis University in the late 1960’s and that experience set him on a different course of study and service: spirituality. This served as a focus and inspiration for him for the rest of his career. In 1972, he became an instructor in the Department of Theology at Creighton, where his long career in Omaha began. After receiving his Ph.D in Religion and Religious Education from The Catholic University of America, he was promoted to assistant professor at Creighton in 1973.
In addition to being a mentor and advisor, Fr. Hauser was a spiritual guide to hundreds of students. In 1975, he introduced a staple to Catholic life at Creighton: the candlelight Mass. Each liturgy, which begins at 10 p.m. on Sunday nights during the academic year, draws 300-400 students each week. He also served as a residence hall chaplain from 1974-1991 and coordinated vocation promotion groups for students interested in becoming Jesuits.
“He was a mentor to so many,” said Fr. Don Doll, SJ, a fellow Jesuit and close friend of Fr. Hauser for more than fifty years. “More men have joined the Society from Creighton than from any other institution in the country and that is a testament to Fr. Hauser.”Fr. Hauser’s role in the Creighton Department of Theology saw the expansion of the department’s graduate education offerings. To make the programs accessible, he also negotiated tuition reductions. He served as Chair of the Theology Department from 1978-1990, then once more from 1996-1999. In 1990 he became the founder and director of the master’s programs in ministry and theology. In 1993, he became the director of the Christian Spirituality master’s program. He also taught a variety of undergraduate and graduate classes throughout his career, and served as rector of the Creighton University Jesuit Community from 2001-2007.
“Fr. Hauser was a great example of apostolic zeal and a true source of encouragement to me as a younger Jesuit,” said Creighton President Fr. Daniel S. Hendrickson, SJ, who was a student in the Jesuit Humanities Program at Creighton in 1996 and served as an adjunct instructor in the Department of Philosophy from 2000 to 2003. “Additionally, to so many alums and friends of the University, Fr. Hauser is the face of the Creighton Jesuits, ever-present in classrooms, conference rooms, Creighton events, and his long-standing late-night candlelight Mass on Sundays in the St. John’s Church. His impact on faculty and staff, in particular, demonstrated an authentic inclusion of these colleagues and friends in the mission and identity of Jesuit higher learning. I will miss his warmth, passion, determination, and playfulness.”
Fr. Hauser was inspired by an interest in contemporary Christian Spirituality, particularly in the Holy Spirit, Ignatian spirituality, discernment of spirits, and contemplation. This led him to write three books: In His Spirit (1982), Moving in the Spirit (1986), and Finding God in Troubled Times (1994). Each of the books apply the theology of the Holy Spirit to a dimension of contemporary spiritual living. He was also particularly interested in the theologian Fr. Thomas Merton who provides a quote befitting of Fr. Hauser’s life at Creighton. “The highest vocation in the Kingdom of God is that of sharing one’s contemplation with others and bringing others to the experimental knowledge of God….The best you can do is write something or say something that will serve as an occasion for someone else to realize what God wants….”
Visit Fr. Hauser’s Creighton remembrance page here.
Sunday, April 8, 2018
4:30 – 7:00 p.m.
Wake Service: 7:00 p.m.
St. John’s Church
2500 California Plaza
Omaha, NE 68178
Monday, April 9, 2018
St. John’s Church