God calls us all. Our choice is to respond to that call. Then we have to trust that God is taking part in our lives, working in us and through us.
A Jesuit's Journey: Fr. Bob Hilbert, SJ
Born: March 25, 1926
Died: May 19, 2014
May 1, 2013 - It was the middle of World War II when the young Bob Hilbert graduated
from Creighton Prep and
entered the Society of Jesus. Ordained in 1956, he went on to teach at Marquette University High School (Milwaukee);
serve as rector at Campion
Jesuit High School (Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin); teach
and serve as superior at St.
Francis Mission (South Dakota); and serve as director at
the Emmaus Center (Des
“I knew very early in life that I wanted to be a Jesuit,” he recalls. “It fit
perfectly into my personal desires to be a priest and a teacher – an ideal
combination for me.”
Being a Jesuit also means living a life infused with Ignatian spirituality, and
Fr. Hilbert was able to share this gift abundantly during his next assignments
– in pastoral ministry at St.
Stephen’s Mission in Wyoming, and as assistant for pastoral and
retreat ministries at the Province
office in Milwaukee.
For example, while at St. Stephen’s, Fr. Hilbert started offering twice-monthly
Saturday morning retreats based on the Spiritual Exercises to the Native
Americans there. The sessions became so well regarded that people from other
towns began joining them.
Pervading these and all of Fr. Hilbert’s ministries has been a tremendous
reverence for the work of the Holy Spirit in each person. When giving retreats,
he emphasized that participants shouldn’t look to him or other sources for
their answers, but to the Holy Spirit. “When the Holy Spirit is trying to tell
us something, we need to listen,” he asserts.
“God calls us all,” Fr. Hilbert adds. “Our choice is to respond to that call.
Then we have to trust that God is taking part in our lives, working in us and
through us. Personal fulfillment can be found in what God leads us to
S P I R I T U A L I T Y
While at St.
Stephen’s Mission, Fr. Hilbert wrote an essay for the National Jesuit News
about the meaning of our lives and their connection to the Infinite.
Following is an excerpt:
“Only very hesitantly as
yet do I affirm myself as valuable, significant. Yet the longing I have for
fullness does not want to discard my achievement as meaningless or worthless.
I stand before God, small, ragged, inept, holding out a few scraps of ministry
product that I’ve worked so hard to make, tempted to hide them in shame for
their meagerness and their clumsiness, yet aware that somehow they take their
minute spark of being from the wonderful, incomprehensible mystery that is
God, and so are not mine to hide but His to take, for from their origin they
are blessed by Him.”
May 6, 2019 - When I was in the third grade at a Catholic primary school in suburban Maryland, I happened upon a book about St. Isaac Jogues, the 17th century Jesuit missionary, getting flogged, flayed, and having his fingers chewed off on a mission to “New France.” At the time I couldn’t for the life of me understand why someone would choose to go through such an ordeal! Fast forward twenty-some years later, and I am a Jesuit brother living with Jesuits from India, Ecuador, Tanzania, and Wisconsin.