Jacques van Hoek

van-hoek-copyIn 1909, Asten was a large village in the Netherlands.  Right across the street where Jacques van Hoek (pictured at right) was born stood a huge church renowned for its astronomic clock which I had the occasion to see at work, with the puppets coming out of their nest every time that the carillon would ring.

Next to his father’s drugstore was a bell factory, or should I say foundry.  Hearing the jingling of bells any time during the day might have influenced his tendency to music.  Next to that factory was the SCJ novitiate which is presently a home for retired SCJs.

My personal memories of Fr. van Hoek are a countless jumble of enriching experiences.  To me, he was more than a priest, or a superior.  He has really been a father.  After my dad’s funeral, my mom asked him to be a father to me.  I was 16.  And he had been at my side all the years of my SCJ formation and at the beginning of my ministry as a priest.

In Canada, he accepted many religious assignments at all levels.  His presence alone was kind of intimidating for people who did not know him.  But when the ice was broken, the joyfully serious man would appear and he would freely share his knowledge, competence, and spirituality.

claude-bedard-squareI visited with Fr. van Hoek a few months before he died in Asten, his home town, in September 1992.  He went to where he belongs, escorted by the three famous Archangels Michael, Raphael, and Gabriel.  [His death, on September 29, is their feast day.]  Fr. van Hoek, thanks for your generosity.  You are a living example of religious fraternity!

J. Claude Bédard, SCJ
From Dehonian Spirituality (publication of the US Province), November 4, 2016

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