Good Friday typically commemorates the death of a savior, Jesus Christ. Instead, mine was spent attempting to celebrate the life of one of Creighton’s most influential members of the Jesuit community: the Rev. Richard Hauser, in what I soon would learn were his final days. I decided to meet with him that morning.
Setting foot on campus, I quickly realized I had arrived rather early. Upon realizing this, I decided to venture from the concrete pathway toward the vividly green grass center of a beautiful springtime scene. A symphony of birds sang to welcome in the day, full of life on a crisp but sunny morning.
From this iconic scene of life, I entered the quarters of the Jesuits to seek out an old, but familiar face, one who was coming to terms his own death. To myself, and many of my peers, Fr. Hauser had become more than simply a common face on campus. Rather, he was a masterful spiritual guide who took an approach toward the nuances of life.
As we sat down to talk, the flow of the conversation resumed immediately, maintaining itself as if no time had passed. Fr. Hauser had previously been the faculty adviser for the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity for many years. I was fortunate enough to experience his presence within the fraternity not only as a brother, but also as a spiritual counselor.
For all new members he would hold get-togethers, termed “reflections,” at the Ignatius House. The purpose of this was two-fold: to bring each class of young men closer together by sharing issues that are troubling in their lives, as well as to help them connect with spirituality in their everyday lives by closing the reflection with a mass.
This notion was also carried forth in his professorial roles. As a former professor in the Department of Theology, he recalled how a student had once asked him what he would like written on his tombstone, to which he responded confidently, “He helped us find God’s presence in our lives.”
By helping others to realize the importance of finding spirituality in their lives, religion became more than just going to mass on Sundays. He emphasized that realizing this during one’s college years can be especially formative, especially at a Jesuit university where these ideals are actively embraced.
After nearly an hour of exciting conversation between us, he grew tired in his already weakened state. Before leaving, I asked him if I could help him with anything in the room. At his request, I opened the screen door leading to his porch, allowing the now warm air to flood the room. On my way out, he stopped me to give me something: a personally signed copy of his first book, “In His Spirit.” As I said what would be my final goodbyes, I could still faintly hear the birds outside, paying their final respects to the morning.