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‘Priest for a day’ eulogized for his ‘robust’ faith

In celebrating the sacrament of the anointing of the sick two days before Brett Haubrich died on Jan. 10, Msgr. Patrick Hambrough noted the forceful manner in which Brett responded to the prayer at the anointing of his palms: "May the Lord of love and mercy free you from sin, save you and raise you up."

"Brett says ... a strong, vocal and firm 'Amen,'" Msgr. Hambrough said in the homily at Haubrich's funeral Mass Jan. 15 at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis. "I wasn't expecting it out of this sick, tired kid, but it was an 'amen' I can only describe as 'robust.' That's the word that popped into my mind: 'robust.' That was a robust 'Amen.'

"I wrote it down in my car when I left the house: Make sure to note that 'Amen' was robust."

Later, Msgr. Hambrough looked up the dictionary meaning of "robust" and discovered a meaning that perfectly described Brett, before and after the diagnosis of an inoperable brain tumor in May 2014.

"The fourth definition is 'capable of performing without failure under a wide range of conditions,'" Msgr. Hambrough said. "Wasn't that Brett? Capable of performing without failure under a wide range of conditions?"

Msgr. Hambrough listed those conditions.

"I saw him as a student and a server at Mass ... an athlete and a teammate ... an actor and dancer in the school play," he said. "I saw him be a friend and a son and a brother and a relative and a pray-er and a child of God, a wide range of conditions ... to have a faith and a love and an 'Amen' that's robust; that's what I saw."

Msgr. Hambrough also saw the look on Brett's face as he served the Chrism Mass on Holy Thursday in 2015 at the cathedral. As part of his Make-a-Wish, Brett asked to be a "Priest for a day," and Archbishop Robert J. Carlson made it so by having Brett serve two Masses on that Holy Thursday — the Chrism Mass and Mass of the Last Supper.

At the Mystery of Faith in the Eucharistic Prayer, "Save us, Savior of the world, for by your Cross and Resurrection you have set us free," Msgr. Hambrough said he "glanced at Brett and I'll never forget that face. He was looking at the crucifix, his eyes were fixed, his face was golden. It was an extrodinary moment: the face of one gazing upon that crucifix. Brett's face was beautiful that day.

"I know already what Brett's face will look like when he sees God face-to-face. I saw it that day at Mass."

Msgr. Hambrough baptized Brett 14 years ago and is pastor at St. Mark Parish, where Brett graduated from the parish school in May. Msgr. Hambrough celebrated the funeral Mass before a large congregation of family, friends and classmates from St. Mark's and Bishop DuBourg High School, where Brett was a freshman. Six priests concelebrated the Mass, including DuBourg president Father Michael J. Lydon. Archbishop Carlson and Bishop Edward M. Rice of the Springfield/Cape Girardeau Diocese also attended.

Brett is survived by his parents, Eileen and Conrad Haubrich, and his siblings, Olivia, Andrew and Ella, and his grandparents, Carol and Dan Venverloh. 

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