August 7, 2014 — Jesuit Brother Ken Homan never set out to be the face of Jesuit vocations, but that's exactly what he is. He’s the newest star of an interactive video on the U.S. Jesuits’ vocations website, www.jesuitvocations.org, where he talks to users about being a Jesuit brother.
For Br. Homan, 24, making the video was a great way to share his vocation. “There are not a whole lot of young brothers,” he acknowledges, “and this was a great opportunity to make my vocation visible and to make it relevant for guys.” Plus, he says, “I love new adventures.”
While Br. Homan was a little surprised to be featured in the video, given his background he seems like an obvious choice — he’s known the Jesuits his whole life. Raised in St. Louis, his mom taught at Saint Louis University for 25 years, and he attended Saint Louis University High School. Then he headed to Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, where he studied for two years before joining the Jesuits in 2010.
Despite his “Jesuit” upbringing, Br. Homan admits he didn’t know the Society had brothers until he entered. “I had never met one,” he says. “For me, making the video was neat because it’s an opportunity for guys who haven’t met one to learn a little bit about who Jesuit brothers are.”
After his two years in the novitiate, Br. Homan is now at Fordham University in New York, where he completed his bachelor’s degree this past spring and is working on a master’s degree in history. His decision to become a brother was guided by a higher power. “I had this strong experience of God saying you don’t have to know exactly why you want to be a brother but I’m telling you to be a brother,” he explains. “That was the confirming experience: I don’t have to have it all figured out, but that’s definitely the way I’m being called right now.”
A fellow Jesuit once told Br. Homan that he should work on explaining what a Jesuit is in the length of an elevator ride. “I need a second elevator ride for the brother part,” Br. Homan says, laughing.
In the video, Br. Homan explains this and more, through the unique interactive technology in which users can guide the conversation on a number of different topics. As for his elevator speech? “Usually I explain to people that that we’re all part of a community but the way we live out that community is different. Priests are called to serve through sacramental ministry, whereas a brother often finds those services in different ways.”
For Br. Homan, some of those ways include ministering through education, coaching and woodworking. Br. Homan’s dad comes from an auto mechanic family, and his grandpa could “touch an engine block and tell you how hot it was running—usually within 2 degrees.” So his dad, who has a Ph.D. in theology, always stressed the importance of practical skills as well as academics. “I took that to heart and during the novitiate when I was looking for a hobby, it struck me that I love the smell and texture of wood, and I love being able to shape and create something I can give to others.”
Another hobby of Br. Homan’s is weightlifting. As a wrestler in high school, his coaches asked him to put on 30 pounds between two seasons. “I didn’t make the 30 pounds, but I put on a fair bit of muscle mass, and I’ve always really enjoyed the steadiness and activity of it,” he says, adding that he’s looking forward to his first official meet in October.
He’s also looking forward to the future, which includes completing his master’s degree, followed by three years of regency and theology studies. Then, Br. Homan will see what adventure his vocation takes him on next.