A higher calling for Dr Joel Hodge

It is with great delight for the ACU Faculty of Theology and Philosophy to announce that Senior Lecturer, Dr Joel Hodge, is soon to embark on the novitiate program with the Society of Jesus.

When asked what inspired him to become a Jesuit, Dr Hodge said he had been thinking of how he could be of more service to people and the Church while feeling a call to deepen his relationship with God, in and through Jesus, and witness more to God’s love.

“I also felt that I could benefit from more spiritual and personal formation, which the Jesuits do well. The Jesuits have a deep spiritual tradition, based in the life and teaching of St Ignatius of Loyola, that is grounded in one’s own inner life and relationship with Jesus.

“The Jesuits also have a great intellectual tradition and various social ministries, as well as a down-to-earth sensibility and community life,” he added.

Dr Hodge comes from a strong Catholic background, growing up in Brisbane in a Catholic family with three brothers, a sister, and a large extended family.

“We grew up next door to our grandmother, which was so fortunate for us as we saw her and our extended family a lot. I went to local parish primary schools and to Marist College Rosalie for high school. My brothers and I grew to have a strong connection with the Marists through our schooling and involvement in Marist young adult ministry.”

Before coming to ACU in 2009, Dr Hodge was an Assistant Professor at Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire USA, after completing his doctorate at the University of Queensland. One of the things he most enjoys about being at ACU is accompanying students in learning about and critically investigating Christianity, especially in the sacraments.

“I also enjoy my research and media work, as part of which I’ve been able to write about a range of contemporary topics for different audiences. My most recent book is an analysis of violence in militant jihadism (Bloomsbury, 2020).”

Dr Hodge will initially take long service leave from ACU and, depending on how the novitiate goes, is uncertain if he will return to the university.

“ACU has been very supportive of my entering the Society of Jesus, for which I’m very grateful, especially to ACU Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Greg Craven and Executive Dean of the Faculty of Theology and Philosophy, Professor Dermot Nestor.

“My entry into the novitiate also comes at a providential moment when ACU and the Australian Province of the Society of Jesus are entering into a new partnership, as part of which ACU will accredit the degrees provided by the Jesuit College of Spirituality (JCS). I have been on the Council of JCS for a number of years and am excited about this partnership.”

Dr Hodge said that being a Jesuit means being part of a society that is deeply grounded in relationship with Jesus and in service to Jesus, for the Church and the entire world.

“I’ve been thinking of religious vocation for some years and started to explore it more concretely in the last three to four years. I went through a period of candidacy and discernment with the Jesuits which clarified my initial sense of calling.”

And when will the novitiate program commence? “I start at the beginning of August in Adelaide (after I do a period of quarantine!).”

ACU Faculty of Theology and Philosophy Associate Dean (Learning and Teaching) Dr Richard Colledge said, “Joel has been a truly integral member of our academic staff for a good while now, with his influence felt not only in Melbourne but across our various campuses.

“However, while his expertise, collegiality and industry will be sorely missed, we are excited about the new path he is pursuing. We wish him all the very best as he pursues his calling with the Society of Jesus.”

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