Let us pray in thanksgiving for the life of Fr. Charles W. Niehaus, SJ, who died on January 10, 2021, at Colombiere Center Jesuit Community in Clarkston, Michigan. He was 75 years old. May he rest in peace.
Chuck is survived by a brother (William) and two sisters (Clarissa and Carol).
Chuck was born in Cincinnati on June 29, 1945. After graduating from St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati, he entered the former Chicago Province of the Society of Jesus at Milford Novitiate on September 1, 1963. Chuck was ordained on December 21, 1974, made tertianship during the summers of 1978-1979, and pronounced final vows at Holy Family Church in Chicago on February 2, 1981.
Chuck studied philosophy at Bellarmine School of Theology, earned a master’s degree in French from Middlebury College in Vermont (1975), and studied theology at the Jesuit School of Theology in Chicago.
During Regency, Chuck taught French at St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati. After ordination, Chuck spent his life in pastoral ministry to the Latino community: at Holy Family Church (1976-1983); in the Quad Cities (1983-1989); as co-director of Hispanic ministry in the Diocese of Gary (1990-1992); at St. Ignatius Parish in Chicago (1992-1995); at St. Procopius Parish in Chicago/Pilsen (1995-2003 & 2012-2013); at St. Paul Church in Lexington (2004-2012); and at St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati (2014-2015). In 2015, Chuck was missioned to care for his health at Colombiere Center.
Chuck spoke and worked in Spanish without ever having lived in a Spanish-speaking country. During formation, Chuck participated in the “Horizons for Justice” program in which North American Jesuits spent some weeks in Latin America to directly experience situations of social injustice. Chuck’s participation changed his life—it was the reason he decided to learn Spanish and dedicate his apostolic life to the Hispanic apostolate.
Christ was the center of Chuck’s life and the motivation for all his thoughts and actions. He saw Christ in the Hispanic people with whom he lived and worked. He was prayerful, generous, and devoted to his friends (i.e. everyone he met). Chuck loved his parishioners and could be obstinate when helping them; he would not “give up” until he had accomplished his goal. “Fr. Carlos” was much loved by the people of St. Procopius. They appreciated how hard he worked for them and easily saw how his love was expressed in his tireless work for them.
People felt privileged to have Chuck in their lives or to work alongside him as he was always loyal and dependable. Like the holy Spirit, he was everywhere and everyone in the neighborhood knew him and were grateful for his companionship. He enjoyed presiding at summer street Masses, and loved organizing and leading processions through the streets.
Everyone knew that Chuck was “of the people” and “for the people”. At one point while he was living in Pilsen and working at St. Procopius, he had to undergo surgery. He deliberately chose to go to Cook County Hospital because, he said, that was the hospital where people from St. Procopius went when they needed an operation.
Note: Due to COVID-19, the visitation and funeral are for Chuck’s community only. Both can be viewed on the Colombiere Center YouTube Channel.
Sunday, January 17, 2021
7:00 p.m. (EST)
Monday, January 18, 2021
10:45 a.m. (EST)