Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Story of Father Joseph W Hausser

I found a short article a few nights ago noting the death of the wife of my third great uncle.  The headline for the article was "Mother of Three Priests."  Reading further, it mentions her two living sons who were priests and one who had died attending victims of small pox in Chicago.  I checked, and yes, I had a son named Joseph listed for her.  The only other info I had was Joseph's year of birth and location in the 1870 and 1880 censuses.

Further research led me to some stunning facts.  Joseph was 28 years old when he died.  He had been ordained in 1889 at the age of 22.  He had also left a will.  I thought this odd as I thought Catholic priests took vows of poverty.  But reading the will, things became clearer.  It was written only a few days before his death - probably when he realized that he had contracted small pox himself.  All the will designated was that the proceeds from his life insurance be left to his brother, also a Catholic priest.  What the money was to be used for wasn't mentioned.

I have to wonder what Joseph's last days were like.  He knew what would happen to him.  He would not have been able to say goodbye to his family in person as I'm sure they would have been prohibited from visiting him.  Did he write them letters?  Did they even know what he was going through as it happened?  What I do know is that I'm glad I learned about Father Joseph W Hausser and his short but special life.  

His tombstone at St. Boniface Cemetery in Chicago says, "He Died A Martyr To His Holy Calling."  You can visit his memorial on Find-A-Grave here.