Celebrating Jesuit Brothers

Joe Hoover, SJ

Hometown: Omaha, Nebraska
Province: USA Midwest

Highlights from Jesuit life:

  1. An 8-week immersion in Northeast India
  2. Studying Christian/Buddhist dialogue with Dr. Thomas Cattoi, associate professor of Christology and Cultures at the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University
  3. Vacations at Waupaca Villa in Wisconsin

Current Ministry: Poetry editor at America magazine, writer and actor

 

Br. Joe Hoover, SJ, grew up the youngest of seven in Omaha, Nebraska. He attended Marquette University and worked as an organizer, editor, dishwasher, teaching artist and actor before joining the Jesuits in 2003. His formation included studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago, teaching at Red Cloud Indian School and doing interreligious studies at the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University. He currently lives in New York where he writes, acts, serves as the poetry editor at America Magazine and works with Crown Heights Mutual Aid. He founded Xavier Theatre and Film to produce new works in the Catholic arts tradition of creating beauty and promoting human dignity. His essays and short stories have appeared in several publications including Image, Agni, The Sun, Best Catholic Writing and Best Spiritual Writing. His first book, “O Death, Where is Thy Sting: A Meditation on Suffering,” came out from Orbis Books in December of 2020.

Academic Degrees: Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Marquette University; Master’s degree in social philosophy Loyola University Chicago; Master of Theology from the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University

What drew you to become a Jesuit? What drew you to become a brother?

I was drawn to become a Jesuit by the example of Jesuits I knew at Creighton Prep and Marquette, who were engaging and personable but also spiritual and committed to working with the poor and marginalized. I was on the scholastic track for nine years and switched to the brother vocation when I realized I was not drawn to the Jesuits to become a priest and celebrate sacraments. I simply wanted to be a Jesuit. I wanted to use my abilities and desires to serve God in ways primarily outside of official church roles and institutions.

Describe one moment in your ministry life that has impacted you.

I was deeply moved and heartened by the example of the Jesuits in Northeast India, who were courageous, personable and zealous for the mission. They brought to mind the first few generations of Jesuits, going far out on the frontiers to reach and serve people who had not yet heard the word of Christ. But doing so first in simple accompaniment and building solidarity with people in their struggles and desires.

What is your favorite book, movie, music, or TV show you’ve encountered since entering the Society and why do you love it?

When I was a novice John Fitzgibbons, SJ, had us read “Holy the Firm” by Annie Dillard. I have read it many times since. It is a master class in creative writing. I resonate with its themes of questioning God’s presence in human tragedy and suffering.

Who is a spiritual hero of yours? Why?

Pope Francis is extraordinary. He is a free man who is unafraid to live in the spirit of God, to call us to live like Christ did, to let everyone know they are welcome and accepted. He is completely re-orienting what power in the church looks like. His example calls me to be a better Jesuit and a better person.

Describe the life of a Jesuit brother. One catch: You must use only six words.

Serving anywhere.

What does the spirituality of a brother mean to you? How have you lived it out?

Brothers I have known tend to keep it simple, taking seriously and literally living out the motto of finding God in all things.

Listen to Joe talk about his book, “O Death, Where Is Thy Sting?: A Meditation On Suffering.”

Brothers from Across the Conference

Brent Stevenson Gordon, SJ 
USA Central and Southern
Matt Wooters, SJ
USA Midwest
Joe Hoover, SJ
USA Midwest
Ken Homan, SJ
USA Midwest
Mark J. Mackey, SJ
USA Midwest
Sullivan McCormick, SJ
USA Central and Southern
Henry W. Perez, SJ
USA West
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