Haas, William R.Died
Br. William R. Haas, SJ, who served as a Jesuit and infirmary specialist for 65 years, died on May 26, 2012, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. One of two children of J.R. and Mary (Schwiderski) Haas, Br. Hass was born on November 23, 1925 in El Paso, Illinois. He is survived by his sister, a niece and nephew, and countless friends.
“One of the things I appreciate about Br. Bill was what a hard and dedicated worker he was. He prided himself on being the first one up and at work at the retreat house,” explained Fr. Michael Sparough, SJ, a longtime friend who served with Br. Haas for many years at the Bellarmine Retreat House and spoke at his funeral mass on May 30, 2012. “I was shocked to hear that Br. Bill had asked me to preach at his funeral because all he ever did was criticize my homilies. He complained they were always too long and that I talked too much. But that was just his way; he was stubborn at first but softened later.”
Br. Haas entered the Milford Novitiate in 1947, shortly after graduating from St. Bede Academy in Peru, Illinois, in 1943. In 1949 he began his infirmary training at the Hospital School of Nursing in St. Louis. His first assignment brought him back to Milford, where he cared for his Jesuit brothers. From 1955 to 1963 Br. Haas served as promoter of brothers vocations.
For much of his Jesuit life, Br. Haas was able to put his nursing education to good use serving as infirmarian at the Milford Novitiate (1950-1955 and 1963-1970), infirmary supervisor at the Bellarmine School of Theology (1969-1970), and the Assistant for Province Health Care at the Loyola University Jesuit Residence (1978-1980).
In 1985, he began a much different role as the director of director of facilities and community treasurer at Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House. “The diversity of Br. Bill’s vocation speaks volumes to the enormous competence that he possessed. He could learn and figure out anything he put his mind to,” said Fr. Sparough.
During his time at the retreat house, Br. Bill became close with his fellow Jesuits and laypeople, even staying in touch once they had moved on. “When one of our co-workers had a stroke and had to be moved to a nursing home, Br. Bill would visit and bring family and friends to cheer her up. This went on for years. This wasn’t an exception, this was the norm,” said Fr. Sparough.
“I loved his spirituality,” said Heidi Bianchi, a fellow Bellarmine co-worker, “when he was on his tractor trailer, you could see that he was in his own world communicating with God. I was often jealous of how close he was with God. He was a special type of person.”
Br. Haas remained at Bellarmine until 2006 when he joined the Colombiere Jesuit Community. For many years he worked in the maintenance department at Colombiere.
“Br. Bill was a great pal,” said Br. Jim Small, SJ, a friend for 60 years. “When I walked into the novitiate 60 years ago he was there on the tractor cutting the grass and we’ve been friends ever since. Since that first day at the novitiate, we’ve talked at least once every week to catch up on each other’s lives. We spoke just before he died and I’m grateful we got that last conversation in. He will be missed not only by me, but also by the entire Jesuit community that he worked so hard to serve the past 65 years.”