When the new academic year started at Marquette University in Milwaukee last month, it was missing one of its most well-known Jesuits. Jesuit Father John Naus served the university for almost 50 years before he retired over the summer.
Known for his sly humor, former Marquette president Jesuit Father Robert Wild said Fr. Naus was perhaps the best known and most beloved Jesuit at Marquette for the past 49 years.
Ordained a priest in 1955, Fr. Naus served Marquette in academic, administrative and ministerial capacities for nearly five decades.
Smiling builds trust, Fr. Naus told the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, so he tried to make others smile with silly antics on the first day of class.
In the 1970s, students at the residence hall where Fr. Naus lived and was chaplain for 28 years bought him a clown suit to wear and named him Tumbleweed. This prompted Fr. Naus to attend the Barnum & Bailey clown college in Venice, Fla. Fr. Naus went on to perform as Tumbleweed at children’s hospitals and nursing homes, and he spent the last class of his courses teaching students how to make balloon animals.
His philosophy classes were challenging but popular. “He was mesmerizing in the classroom,” said James South, chair of Marquette’s philosophy department. “The biggest thing we had to manage was the sheer demand for his classes,” which were the first to fill.
Fr. Naus is also famous at Marquette for his weekly 10 p.m. Tuesday Mass, which would attract more than 200 students. That was “the happiest hour of my week for 28 years,” Fr. Naus said.
Read the full profile of Fr. Naus at the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel website.