An Interview with Jim Van Hoven

by Gordon Nary



Gordon: Where did you attend University, and what degree did you earn?


Jim: Seton Hall University, and I have a double major in Sociology and Social Work. I liked that our Catholic faith was a part of the curriculum—especially the opportunity to help on a service trip to a flooded community one spring break.


Gordon: When did your serve as Executive Director at Woodcraft Rangers, and what were your primary responsibilities?


Jim: I served in Los Angeles, California, in the ’80s through the mid-90s. Woodcraft is a character development organization providing after-school care and camping experiences for children in low-income and ethnically diverse communities. I was the bridge between the founding generation and the educators who lead the group now. I worked with a board of directors to help the organization address the needs of children and their families living in L.A. at that time. Looking back, I can see I helped develop a new vision of character development and found the funding to support it.


Gordon: When you did you serve as Executive Director at CampWebb, Episcopal Diocese of Milwaukee, and what did you enjoy most while you were there?


Jim: I was there in the late ’90s. I worked in the chancery office leading the youth camping program. I learned a lot about chancery relationships and met Archbishop Rembert Weakland. When I moved from CampWebb to Mother of Good Counsel Parish, the Archbishop kindly sent me a welcome letter.


Gordon: When did you serve as Development Director at Mother of Good Counsel Parish is your favorite memory of your time there?


Jim: I worked for a wonderful Salvatorian priest, Fr Cary Lahrs, SLS. I created marketing programs for the parish school and wrote a parish-wide newsletter and managed the website. My primary job was to raise funds which we did with a stewardship campaign.


Gordon: When did you start working as a Development Administrator at the Province of St. Joseph of the Capuchin Order, Capuchin Community Services, and what are your primary responsibilities?


Jim: The Capuchins offered me the job when they saw the samples of my work for the Salvatorians. They needed someone to start their first development office in Milwaukee. And they wanted a fundraising newsletter, something I had a recent experience with. My job has evolved over the years. Our Milwaukee Development office is now a part of the Provincial Development office in Detroit. I work remotely to write the fundraising newsletters for Capuchin Community Services in Milwaukee and the Capuchin Soup Kitchen in Detroit. Both are Catholic social justice ministries. I also compose the newsletter for Capuchin Retreat Center in Michigan. That’s ten editions per year I am responsible for creating.


I also interview and photograph special events and our guests, the Capuchin word for clients. I help to lead the Capuchin Walk for the Hungry. This year we had over 1,000 people participate in the Walk. I have had a devotion to St. Francis of Assisi since childhood, so working for the Capuchins has been an excellent way to live out our shared faith.


Gordon: Who is your favorite saint and why is that saint your favorite?


Jim: My favorite saint is St. Francis of Assisi. I grew up in a Franciscan parish in New Jersey, St. Mary’s Pompton Lakes. My confirmation name is Francis, and I’ve become devoted to several Capuchin Franciscan saints, including Blessed Solanus Casey of our Province and Padre Pio.


The Capuchin Franciscan way of following Jesus has helped me in my spiritual life.


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