By Jerry Duggan
Joshua Hinchie has found that intellectual depth and a missionary spirit are able to coexist within the Society of Jesus.
Growing up in Fulton, Mo., Hinchie was part of a large Catholic family. He attended Catholic school until high school when he became somewhat distanced from the faith.
“I had a lot of big questions, like: ‘What am I living my life for?’,” he explained.
Through reading and attending an academic camp, he began to deepen his faith once again, though he graduated high school with a faith he describes as “intellectually heavy but lacking emotional depth.”
That fall, he enrolled at the University of Tulsa. The Newman Center on campus, and the strength of that community relative to the size of campus, provided him with a niche and an avenue to help him grow more well-rounded in all aspects of Christian life.
“Tulsa had about 4,000 students total, but we had 200 attend our Sunday Mass at the Newman Center, despite Tulsa not being a Catholic school,” he said.
That community supported his faith development, while his coursework in the school’s combined department of philosophy and religion bolstered his intellectual grasp of the faith.
It is in those courses that Hinchie became acquainted with the Jesuits, reading letters from St. Ignatius and several of the Society’s first members.
“I was immediately impressed by him,“ Hinchie said of St. Ignatius. “His missionary spirit, ability to draw all people to Christ, and his very active ministry stood out.”
A summer program called Totus Tuus, in which he and other Catholic young adults went from parish to parish, running youth ministry activities a week at a time, awakened in him a missionary spirit of his own.
In time, he began to consider a Jesuit vocation, but kept his discernment process largely private.
Still, word got around the Newman Center at Tulsa. One day, a friend from Newman approached Hinchie and revealed that his cousin was a Jesuit and that, if Hinchie was willing, he would be happy to talk with him. That Jesuit was David Kiblinger, a member of the Jesuits USA Central and Southern Province who is now in theology studies.
After their conversation, Kiblinger put Hinchie in touch with the vocation promotion office of the then-Missouri Province. He attended the province’s Vow Mass in 2014 and was sold.
“The Mass was moving, but my informal conversations with Jesuits after the Mass were what really set me on fire,” he said. “Hearing from men of all ages about their active ministry, I knew that this was something I could see myself doing.”
Hinchie graduated from Tulsa in 2016 and entered the novitiate the following August.
Since entering, his journey has not been without tribulation, but he remains consoled by and content in his Jesuit vocation thanks to his brother Jesuits.
“Life as a Jesuit has its challenges, but being surrounded by a community of brothers who have so many of the same experiences has been very comforting,” he said.
After studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago, this fall Hinchie began his regency (ministerial assignment) at Loyola University New Orleans, where he is a philosophy instructor and coordinator of the school’s Catholic Studies program.
Hinchie is eager to continue to develop a sense of Ignatian interior freedom, a mindset instilled during his time at the novitiate.
“Coming into the Society, I was a little nervous about how I might feel if the Society did not utilize my gifts in what I felt was the best way possible,” he acknowledged. “Interior freedom, however, will allow me to fully desire any possible assignment in my future. By imagining the possibilities and embracing them, I hope to realize that I will be able to serve God in any situation.”