The Marquette community came together Thursday night to celebrate the life of the late Rev. John Naus at the Gesu Chapel. Naus,a Marquette resident Jesuit and professor, died Sunday, Sept. 22 after suffering a stroke. He was 89 years old.
Among his students and colleagues, Naus became known as a man of incredible humor and heart. He would roam around campus and talk with students, sometimes while dressed as his alter-ego, “Tumbleweed the clown.”
The Rev. Nicholas Santos, said Naus’ love for silly antics remained throughout his final years.
“We would always joke and pull each other’s legs,” Santos said. “There was a competition between us of who could clown around more.”
Gesu Chapel was packed for the Thursday night celebration. From an entrance lined with balloons to a homily interspersed with laughter, the mass reflected Naus’ youthful and jovial personality.
Included in the Gesu’s decorations were boards labeled “What I learned from Fr. Naus,” featuring student quotes about life lessons and virtues Naus shared.
While leading mass attendees in remembering Naus, the Rev. Fred Zagone was no stranger to cracking jokes along the way.
“Could you imagine Naus bungee jumping?!” Zagone said in reference to Naus’ adventurous spirit.
During his homily, Zagone asked the audience if any of them were baptized by Naus. Several raised their hands. Zagone then asked if anyone had their children baptized by Naus and many more hands went up.
Abi Kaszar, a 2010 alumna, met Naus during her time as a violin player for his Tuesday night Mass at St. Joan of Arc Chapel. She traveled from Cleveland to play violin at his burial mass.
“I’m a nurse now and I try to incorporate the way that (Naus) was into my work,” Kaszar said. “I try to make every person feel important and loved.”
For Santos, Naus stood out among the Jesuits with his deep concern for other people.
“If you are somebody who is quiet and shy, he would reach out to you and make you feel special,” said Santos.
Kaszar still remembers the many letters and constant support Naus provided her with. She visited him twice after graduating from Marquette.
“(Naus) was the kind of person that, when he was happy, he make you feel like you were the reason he was happy,” Kaszar said. “I really cherished being a part of his mass for four years.”