May 20, 2015 — The vocational call came early for
Jesuit Father Jonathan Haschka. "I think the first time I
thought about being a Jesuit was my freshman year at Campion High School [in Prairie
du Chien, Wisconsin] when Fr. Mike Sheridan, SJ, sang the 'Suscipe' at the
baccalaureate mass," Fr. Haschka
said. "Something stirred in me with the words: 'All that I have,
you have given me. I offer all to you. Give me only your love and your grace
and I am rich enough and ask for nothing more.'"
During the summer of his junior year, hitchhiking around the country for a few weeks clarified his calling. As Fr. Haschka made his way back, he knew he would apply to the Society of Jesus after he graduated high school.
It was a journey that would continue to offer diverse experiences, among them earning a master of fine arts degree and enjoying success as a sculptor; serving as minister for the novitiate in St. Paul, Minnesota from 1985 to 1988; and acting as minister for the Marquette University Jesuit Community in Milwaukee for three years. For the next 20 years, Fr. Haschka served in the Society's Eastern Africa Province. His assignments there included minister and superior at Loyola House in Nairobi, Kenya, and minister and superior at St. Francis Xavier Church in Mwanza, Tanzania. He then took on the role of superior at the St. Camillus Jesuit Community in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin.
After two decades in Africa, Fr. Haschka felt some culture shock, but he also recognized the experience as part of the continuing growth and development of his faith and vocation.
"It was definitely easier to adjust to life in Africa than to readjust to life back in the USA," he said. "It is scary to be back in the midst of excess after living in the emerging world. … Now I am slowly acquiring a new identity as servant to the elderly or ill Jesuits in what is also mission territory for many of the men here: the last phase of life."
Fr. Haschka reflected on the latest role of his Jesuit life: "Ignatius expressed it best in his instructions for those living with illness: We are to be models of patient trust in God's faithful love. I would hope for us to do this as companions; cheerful, grateful and confident of what our Lord has in store for us." [Source: Wisconsin Province Jesuits]