You can see why Father Rollie (Roland) Hautz is called Glenmary’s “official storyteller” even at age 92. It’s a mile-a-minute talking with him, as fascinating stories spill forth. “I was made pastor at 27,” he proudly notes, “and was pastor till I was 87. That’s the most of any Glenmarian.”
He’s also proud of building two churches, in Coeburn and Lebanon, Virginia, in his early mission days. His ministry over the years was mostly in Appalachia, in eight missions from Ohio to Georgia, and mountain towns in between.
He’s had a colorful career not only as pastor, but as a street preacher, a pamphleteer, a radio announcer, and who knows what else! He hosted close to a thousand volunteers over all those years.
Q: What are you most passionate about?
A: Reading scripture, that’s the basis of the whole thing. These days I really enjoy the breviary [prayer book], reading the psalms and all that.
Q: What is your favorite scripture passage?
A: Paul’s Letter to the Philippians, chapter 2, verses 6-12. You have everything there you need to know about the Church.
It was originally a baptismal hymn in the early Church. They did baptism by immersion, and there were three steps down. Then one gets immersed, then there are three steps up.
These verses talk about how our Lord came down and was obedient even to death. And then, when you’re coming up the other side, how God exalted him. Then it ends up with “Praise to you, O Lord, our God.”
Q: But why does it speak to you personally?
A: It speaks to me because in just six verses it sums up the whole Christian message, how Jesus came, why he came, what he did-he died for us-and then he was glorified. And so, in just six verses you’ve got everything you need to know about the Church!
Q: What is your favorite prayer?
A: Overall, the rosary has been my favorite prayer, mostly because it’s a vehicle for thinking about Jesus. In parishes I was always busy in ministry. But to say the rosary you gotta block out time. You’re concentrating on Jesus. It gets you thinking about spiritual values.
Q: What’s your greatest learning?
A: Kindness, patience. It’s more of a gift than a learning. The Lord made me very calm, so stuff can be happening all around me.
Q: You’re able to evangelize in a down-to-earth way, aren’t you?
A: That was just the Lord’s gift. In fact, I’m 92 years old, and I don’t take any credit for that, either. The last time I was a patient in the hospital was when I was born!
Q: What kind of advice would you give to a young person today ?
A: I’d just say: Really love and appreciate the faith. We’re so blessed with the heritage that we have. The more we can appreciate what the Lord gave us as far as the faith is concerned, the better off we’re going to be.
This interview first appeared in the Autumn 2019 edition of Glenmary Challenge magazine.