A Jesuit's Journey:
Fr. Jim Stoeger, SJ
In August 2014, Fr. Jim Stoeger, SJ, wrote a Facebook post for the Midwest Jesuits that reflected on his life and vocation. He began with: “Care matters a great deal to me. The sensitivity and attentiveness of caring persons convey aspects of God’s own love. That’s the spiritual idea. Actually receiving [God’s] care is quite practical–for example, sitting at a counter in a diner across from a thoughtful server…”
This thread was woven through Fr. Stoeger’s decades of experience as a teacher, administrator or campus minister at high schools from the Chicago area to the East Coast, including Loyola Academy (Wilmette, Illinois), Gonzaga College High School (Washington, D.C.), St. Xavier High School (Cincinnati), and Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School (Indianapolis).
Father Stoeger also served at the Jesuit Secondary Education Association in Washington, DC, as provincial assistant in four areas (pastoral, secondary education, vocations and planning), and as vice president and president. They were all “opportunities to act with and for others, and to bond with them,” Fr. Stoeger says, noting this was true of his Jesuit brothers as well as laypeople. Having opportunities to build relationships with laypeople was a privilege, Fr. Stoeger says. “To know each other, care for each other, and learn from each other adds a richness to life, and an affirming aspect to our work.”
Companionship remains a key part of Fr. Stoeger’s Jesuit identity. “Living together and working together has been greatly fulfilling these many years. And sharing life requires caring for others, making sure in our relationships that we are never alone.”
As a result, Fr. Stoeger has maintained many relationships, particularly with people in the Chicago area. “Those interactions have been, and continue to be, really wonderful for me,” he says, noting a picture on his desk of a couple and their children.
Father Stoeger currently lives his mission at a Jesuit health care community in the Detroit metro area, where he prays for the Church and the Society.
“Reflecting on my Jesuit vocation always leads me to the rightness of it,” Fr. Stoeger says. “I can’t name a single time where I had some difficulty that frustrated me to the point where I questioned my Jesuit life. That’s a serious statement. There is such wonder to this life, and it has turned out to be unquestionably right for me. And for the most part, I believe I’ve turned out to be right for it, including the communities and places I’ve been.”