We invite readers to send short stories about the ways in which their lives have been personally blessed by the life and work of priests and religious in our diocese.
By Karina Fabian
Father Jim Hogan’s priesthood has been one of study and travel, of working with small community groups and large national organizations, of prayer and dinner parties. One thing it has not been is lonely.
Father Jim was ordained in 1961 and served the next eight years as assistant pastor at St. Ann’s in Butte, St. Anthony’s in Missoula, and at the Cathedral of St. Helena. He founded the Religious Education Center and directed it for three years, then became the founding pastor of Holy Family Parish in Missoula and Spirit of Christ Mission in Lolo, where he stayed for 10 years. He next served as pastor for Little Flower Parish in Browning.
During these years he was a member of the Diocesan Priests’ Senate, the Diocesan Pastoral Council and the National Federation of Priests Councils. He has taught high school theology and medical ethics as well as a special class on the ethics of nonviolence. He’s also formed and led about 10 pilgrimages to the Holy Land.
Now he serves as pastor at Christ the King Parish, where he is also director of campus ministry at the University of Montana.
His ministry has not been confined to the Catholic Church, either. He served on the Missoula mayor’s Blue Ribbon Committee of Fifty which evaluated and implemented city goals, was on the advisory board for the Institute of Medicine and Humanities at St. Patrick Hospital/University of Montana, and served on a Missoula committee to establish a new city jail. He has been chaplain for the University of Montana football team for 18 years and was even inducted into the Carroll College Basketball Hall of Fame.
While very civic- and service-minded, he also places a great importance on reaching people on a personal level. “Since arriving at Christ the King, I have always had groups of students in my home for dinners,” he said. This tradition takes place as often as four times a week, with eight to 12 students joining together to discuss a wide range of topics that relate to their journey as a Catholic people.
“Simply being invited to the home of a Catholic priest, who cooks and serves you dinner, is a most extraordinary experience for students. It has been a very valuable experience for me as well,” Father Jim said.
Father Jim noted that he almost left the seminary because he feared the celibate life of a priest would be lonely and unhealthy. What he’s found, however, is “that it is a life filled with people and love, and health is a matter of how one chooses to live.”
Published in The Montana Catholic, Vol. 20, No. 3, March 19, 2004.