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Let us pray in thanksgiving for the life of Fr. Leon S. Rausch SJ, who was called to eternal life on March 14, 2015. Leon died in the company of his Jesuit brothers at St. Camillus Jesuit Community in Wauwatosa, Wis. He was just shy of turning 91 and was a Jesuit for 68 years and a priest for 55 years.
Born in New Berlin, Wis., on March 25, 1924, Leon attended grade school and high school in New Berlin and West Milwaukee. After one year at Marquette University, he entered the Society at Florissant, Mo., on August 18, 1946. He completed the usual Jesuit course of studies at St. Stanislaus Seminary, St. Louis University, and St. Mary's College. Leon was ordained at the Church of the Gesu, Milwaukee, on June 16, 1959. After completing tertianship in Decatur, Ill., he pronounced his final vows in Omaha on August 15, 1962.
Leon had a multitude of assignments during the course of his Jesuit life. He spent his regency (1953-1956) teaching at Holy Rosary Mission in Pine Ridge, South Dakota. After ordination he taught for one year (1965-1966) at Creighton Prep in Omaha, Nebraska. The remainder of his long years of Jesuit service were either in parish ministry or hospital chaplaincy. He served at St. Benedict's Parish in Omaha (1961-1965 and 1979-1982), St. Francis Mission on the Rosebud Reservation, South Dakota (1966-1974), St. Joseph's Hospital in Omaha (1987-1993), and other parishes and hospitals in Milwaukee, Anchorage, Crookston, MN, Des Moines, IA, and Gays Mills, WI. In 1999 declining health led him to take up residence in the St. Camillus Jesuit Community in Wauwatosa, Wis., where he lived until his death.
Leon was at his best serving the poor, whether African Americans in north Omaha or Native Americans on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota. He worked very hard and was a practical, kind, and wise man. He will surely be welcomed into his Father's house by the multitude of Christ's brothers and sisters he served so well for so long.