Louie Hotop, SJ
Highlights of Jesuit Formation:
- Worked and lived with the Catholics in Siberia during first studies.
- Served in a L’Arche community in Kansas City, Missouri.
- Worked with people on the streets in San Francisco through the Gubbio Project.
Will minister on the border with migrant communities and help to do sacramental supply in the Diocese of Brownsville, Texas.
Louis R. Hotop, SJ, is from St. Louis, Missouri, and came to know the Jesuits through his time at St. Louis University High School. While in high school, Louie was very involved in a local youth group, in Boy Scouts through his parish and in campus ministry at school. These activities helped to form and solidify his desire to dedicate his life to the good of others. His twin sister, two brothers and parents were supportive of his decision to enter religious life right after high school at the age of 18.
As a novice, Louie served at L’Arche in Kansas City, Regis Jesuit High School in Denver and St. Peter Claver Parish in Punta Gorda, Belize. After first vows, he was sent to earn his bachelor’s degree at Saint Louis University in philosophy and Russian studies. In order to enhance his Russian skills, he was lucky enough to spend a summer with the Jesuits and the Catholic communities in Siberia, where he taught English at various summer camps and lived with the Missionaries of Charity in a home for the destitute and alcoholics.
For regency, Louie was sent to St. John’s College in Belize City, Belize, and then to Arrupe Jesuit High School in Denver, where he was the director of campus ministry and a theology teacher. After three years, he was sent to the Jesuit School of Theology (JST) of Santa Clara University in Berkeley, California, where he earned a Master of Divinity degree. While at JST, he worked closely with the homeless on the streets of San Francisco through an outreach program called the Gubbio Project, which opens empty churches to provided people with a place to sleep during the day. After ordination, Louie will head to the Diocese of Brownsville, Texas, where he will be ministering on the border with migrant communities and helping to do sacramental supply for the diocese.
Bachelor’s degrees, philosophy and Russian studies, Saint Louis University; Master of Divinity, Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University
What is your favorite book you’ve encountered since entering the Society?
The book “The Prophet” by Kahlil Gibran has had a deep impact on me. Often, I buy used copies of the book at a bookstore, write a note in it and then give it away to a friend. The specific image that I go back to again and again is picturing God as a farmer at harvest time and the beloved (you and me) as ears of corn. God gathers us to himself and frees us from our husks. He grinds us into meal and forms us into dough. He then assigns us “to his sacred fire, that [we] may become sacred bread for God’s sacred feast.”
Who’s your favorite saint, and why?
It’s a tie for me between Mother Teresa and Dorothy Day! I’ve been deeply moved by experiences with both the Missionaries and Charity and the Catholic Worker throughout my formation, and I hope to have even an ounce of the compassion, drive and selflessness that these women had.
How has your spirituality changed since entering the Society?
It’s much simpler! When I entered the Jesuits, prayer was about solving problems with God. I’d bring to God my struggles and worries, any tough relationship or personal difficulty, and I’d expect God to help me solve them like it was a puzzle and only God could make the pieces fit. As I have grown in my understanding of the spiritual life, my prayer has become much quieter. Now when I go to pray, it looks a lot more like silent meditation than problem solving. I leave the ball in God’s court now and let him make the first move.
Who is one important mentor who has accompanied you on your journey? What made them a good mentor?
A friend and mentor of mine, who passed away recently, was a diocesan priest in St. Louis. Fr. Tim was the example of a priestly vocation lived well. As a recovering alcoholic and cancer survivor, he knew the pain and struggles of real people and had a great deal of compassion for the forgotten and the lonely. He was a fantastic preacher and a kind soul. Before he died, when it was clear that he would not be able to be my vesting priest, he gave me a cross to wear on my ordination day in memory of him.