Annunciation Catholic Church has a new priest. Father Rob Hausladen began his first assignment as administrator Wednesday and served his first mass at Annunciation Saturday evening.
Health problems prevented the previous priest, Fr. Ciano, from continuing pastoring churches in both Seelyville and Brazil.
The 34-year-old Hausladen who grew up in Lafayette, Ind., explained his title. A priest's first assignment is as an administrator rather than a pastor. The first year is like a probationary period.
"That's to see if I mess up," Father Rob said jokingly. "If you don't want me to stay at the end of the year, that's an easy way to get rid of me."
The third of eight children, Hausladen discussed his calling into the priesthood. He remembered his third grade teacher, Sr. Anna Marie, saying that everyone was called by the Holy Spirit and some were called in special ways to be a priest or religious. Sister had them pray to be open to the call.
"I thought, Oh, great, that's the kind of thing I'd be called to do. So I came up with a compromise. I prayed that I'd be open to the call but prayed that I'd not be called to be a priest."
Coming from a large family, Hausladen expected to follow in his dad's footsteps. He wanted to marry, have children and be a father.
He studied for a career as an English professor graduating from St. Joe's at Rensselaer in 1990. After getting a graduate degree from Auburn University Hausladen transferred to Indiana University.
"I always said there were two criteria that had to be met for me to choose my career," Hausladen said. "The work had to make me happy and what I did had to make a difference."
At IU he had an experience involving a priest he greatly admired. Fr. Bob had been in a small auto accident and was wearing a neck brace at mass one day.
"I thought, what a loss to me and the community it would have been if Fr. Bob had been in a much worse accident.
"It got me thinking more active in my faith. Then I started thinking about him and other priests and nuns in my life and realized they were doing what I wanted to do. I also realized that being a priest met both of my criteria.
"Then I understood that I was not meant to be a biological father but to be father to a church family."
Robert Hausladen was ordained in 2001. He was sent to St. Monica Church in Indianapolis as the associate pastor and chaplain at Cardinal Ritter High School.
"My greatest weakness," the young priest shared with his new congregation, "is not being able to remember names. I've misidentified three of my five sisters," he said with a forlorn smile. "So please don't take it personally if I don't remember your name and try to be patient with me."
Fr. Rob said his passion is baseball and softball. He had organized a 10-team softball league for the St. Monica church and was sad to leave that behind.
He hopes to start an Annunciation softball team next year. In the meantime, if any area team needs a fill-in player, Fr. Rob just might be available.
"The people here have been wonderful and very welcoming," Fr. Rob said. "I hope to be as involved and active as possible. I want the parish to grow."