Obituary

Omaha boy remembered for his joy despite fatal health condition

By LISA MAXSON

For the Catholic Voice

John Paul Hauser was a boy who loved – unapologetically – everyone he met, often greeting them with a kiss and a long hand hold. His smile was contagious, and his joy was infectious.

That’s how Father Gregory Baxter described the 12-year-old who passed away last month in Omaha. John Paul lived with Trisomy 13, and hadn’t been expected to live past birth.

And yet, God allowed him to defy the odds so he could shine his light to the world through John Paul, Father Baxter said during the boy’s funeral Mass April 5 at St. Margaret Mary Church in Omaha.

“Unlike most of us who struggle to allow that likeness of Jesus to emerge from our oftentimes preoccupied and selfish hearts, John Paul joyfully allowed his unique image of Christ to shine forth throughout his life,” Father Baxter said.

In his short life, John Paul touched the lives of so many people … those who prayed for him, those who taught him and cared for him, and especially his family, said his mom, Tami Hauser. He was the youngest of her and her husband Tracy’s seven children.

“Even though his back was severely bent, and he relied on us for his total care, he woke up every day laughing and kicking,” Tami said. “Our home is now painfully silent without him. He was just a little guy, but he brought a lot of life and love and song into our daily lives.”

LIVING WITH HOPE

John Paul was born Oct. 9, 2008, with a rare genetic disorder called Trisomy 13, where a person has three copies of genetic material from chromosome 13 instead of the usual two. The condition involves severe disabilities, impedes normal development and leads to premature death.

Many children born with Trisomy 13 die before birth, and among those who are born, about half die within two weeks. Those who come home from the hospital have a 50% chance of dying within the first six months of life and 91% chance of dying within the first year, Tami said.

Despite the bleak diagnosis, the Hausers had hope for their son and prayed for his healing to Pope John Paul II, his namesake. They reached out to their community when their son was three months old asking them to join in their prayers.

Wanting to spread devotion to the late pope, the Hausers hoped that through his intercession, God would grant them one of the miracles needed for his canonization. Pope John Paul II was canonized in 2014.

The Hauser family distributed holy cards to their parish community at St. Margaret Mary, as well as to family, friends and neighbors. They also reached out to the Catholic Voice asking for help spreading their message. In return, they received cards, letters and phone calls from people all around the world telling of prayers for John Paul.

“So many people have been the hands and feet of Jesus for our family, and it has been so wonderful to behold,” Tami said. “We are forever grateful.”

A LESSON IN LOVE

Although John Paul was legally blind and couldn’t walk or talk, he attended school, and was making progress with his communication device and could share his thoughts with others. He was a busy and resourceful child, who loved music, had a great sense of humor, and made his family laugh several times each day, his mother said.

“He taught all of us how to love more greatly. We called it his superpower,” Tami said.

The Hauser family said they want to honor John Paul by remembering to rejoice and thank God for every day and to try their best to trust God completely.

“In John Paul’s imperfection, we saw the perfection of God,” his mother said. “It always felt like we were gifted with a little piece of heaven, and we will be forever grateful for being entrusted with the care of a saint.”