This is a transcript of a conversation between the Dean and the Rev. Richard Hogue, who will join the Cathedral community as Associate for Congregational Life on November 8.
Penny: Hello, St. Paul’s. As you may have heard over the last weekend, we have called the Reverend Richard Hogue to serve as our associate for congregational life. Richard will start with us in November, but I thought you might like to meet him. And so I asked him to have a little conversation with me today, by way of introducing him to the community. So Richard, maybe you could start by just tell us how long you’ve been ordained and who’s in your household?
Richard: Yeah, happy to. It’s such an exciting time. So thank you Penny for this moment to kind of introduce myself to some of you folks. I have been ordained since September of, I believe it was 2016. So it is just over five years that I’ve been ordained as a priest. And my wife Maura has been with me on that entire journey, though we weren’t married until I think about almost a month exactly after priestly ordination. We don’t do anything small as a family for some reason. We moved to the east coast, I got ordained and then we flew back to the west coast in 2016, just weeks after to get married, and then we were in Venice for 10 days for our honeymoon. And then we were back in my new call at that point; so I don’t know why, but we’ve just never done anything small. And this move for us is quite a bit like that, in the best of ways, though, so we’re really excited. Our dog is the least excited. He hates moving. He hates it so much. He hates the boxes and it stresses him out. But Tigger our English Bull Terrier, excuse me, Staffordshire Bull Terrier and American Bulldog, is really going to be excited once he finds his new spot in the sun somewhere in San Diego.
Penny: Great; and you don’t have too far to come; you live in Carlsbad.
Richard: No, no, not too far at all. So it may not be as big of a move in terms of distance. It’s just a big move for us in terms of our ministry together and that sort of thing. But we’re both very excited about the possibilities.
Penny: Thank you. The priesthood encompasses a lot of different tasks and directions and skills. What would you say is at the core of your call to the priesthood?
Richard: Two particular moments are at the core of my priesthood. The first is just a little fun. And the second one is a bit more serious, but they’re still tied together. So the first time I remember ever considering the priesthood, it was in at our diocesan camp in the Diocese of Eau Claire. We had just elected Bishop Keith Whitmore as our shepherd, and he happened to be there with us for the middle schoolers camp. And I remember him sitting on a bench reading a Tom Clancy novel, and at the time, I loved Tom Clancy. And so of course, I had to go sit with this man, and have a chat with him. And so we talked about Tom Clancy and God knows whatever else and at the end, he said, you know, you ought to think about being a priest, young man. And at the time I shrugged it off, it was a little ridiculous, like, okay, you’re kooky, you know, but we had fun. But it really did sit with me in ways I didn’t really realize for a long time, and the question that seed developed. But when it came to full fruition was in my time in South Africa, which we’ve discussed briefly. But for those who haven’t heard before, I served in the Eastern Cape in a town called Mthatha. And the Eastern Cape is one of the more impoverished provinces of South Africa, Mthatha is a bit like the Wild West, in the middle of South Africa. Laws are loosely held and loosely listened to. But also the people were genuinely hospitable, wonderful, welcoming, particularly when they heard my American accent; but this time, was one where I saw just how deeply the world really can be in pain and and hurt. And that was kind of reflected in my own experience, even though I came with all sorts of privilege, and was able to get out in a way that many of the folks who live in those kinds of situations never are. But I also met Jesus in ways I never expected in that time and in that place, and Jesus still continues to call upon me and I’ve seen Jesus in other places since then – don’t get me wrong – but that was really where my ministry began to take more serious root within myself, and it really pervades everything I do to this day.
Penny: Thank you. What gives you the most joy both in your work and outside of your work?
Richard: Gosh, there was this moment, a number of weeks ago, at Holy Cross, where we hired a young, AV tech person to run our live streaming systems, and they just came up for communion at one point, and we had loosely talked about church and that sort of thing. Their focus was much more technical, but they just came up for communion out of nowhere, unprompted. I had never told them they couldn’t; I certainly don’t believe I ever told them they necessarily could either though; and I was just so happy that they felt that welcoming presence right from the get go. So it’s moments like that that give me an immeasurable joy, to see people simply know that they are welcome, to feel that they are welcome. And then to live into that. And so following that, the transformation of communities that can come when people really do feel affirmed, welcomed and not just on the surface, but they feel it deep in their bones, that is when I see the most possibility for what we do as Christian disciples.
Penny: And outside of your work?
Richard: Yeah, this will come up again in another question, I’m sure, but I get a great deal of joy watching my Green Bay Packers play, at least when they’re good, at a minimum. But I also really enjoy the sport of basketball. I don’t play it as well as I watch it. But while the Green Bay Packers are my favorite team, my favorite sport to watch is basketball. It gives me a great deal of joy. And there are particular players, of course, in particular teams, but I think I could watch just about any game of basketball in any situation and still find a great deal of joy in just enjoying what’s in front of me. But I also love to get out in nature, I grew up in the woods. And while there’s not much of that necessarily here in coastal San Diego, there are still a lot of beautiful wilderness areas not far from us. And so that really helps free up some mental space for me; it lets my brain leak out a little bit. I also enjoy playing video games. As another version of that, you know, a little bit of escape never hurts any of us. And for those who don’t partake, Borderlands 3 is something I love. So I would love to play multiplayer sometime. But yeah, there’s always more than that. But those are probably the top line things; also just living near the ocean brings me a great deal of joy. Big water is important for me ever since growing up.
Penny: The pandemic changed our lives in some ways temporarily and in other ways permanently. And I wonder what are a couple of things, a couple of ways that the pandemic has changed your life that you’re aware of?
Richard: Yes, usually I tend to be more extroverted. But I think in the same way, many of us were forced to enjoy our introverted sides much more during the pandemic; that has happened for me, I have a much deeper appreciation for my own introverted-ness. And one way of relating that is our last clergy conference, which I enjoyed immensely for so many different reasons. I enjoyed seeing people in three dimensions for the first time hugging people, just shaking hands, even, you know, all that sort of thing. But at the end, I found myself a little exhausted. And it wasn’t because I didn’t enjoy myself, I just realized I need to go recharge. So that is one of the ways that the pandemic has made me realize like, Oh, yeah, I do need “me time”. I don’t want it as much as we had it for the past year and a half. But it still is more enjoyable than I thought it would be before all those events. It also just gave me a deeper appreciation for my dog, even more than I’ve had before. I’ve always loved animals, but having a cool, calm companion who really just loves to snuggle was always good, and good for mental health, emotional health, that sort of thing. So I’m sure there are other ways, but those are the two ways that I have reflected upon the most so far.
Penny: You mentioned sports, packers and basketball. I wonder if you have favorite musical artists, or authors that you’d like to share?
Richard: Yes, absolutely. Well, growing up in the middle of northern Wisconsin, we didn’t have much in the way of television but we had plenty in the way of public radio. So I grew up listening to classical music quite a bit. So I enjoy my Brahms. I enjoy my Mendelssohn. I enjoy my Bach, Mozart and that sort of thing. But on the other side of that, one of my aunts was very much into the 80s punk movement in the south side of Chicago. And so to this day at my parents’ house, I still have my Dead Kennedys records, my Jello Biafra, spoken word albums, and that sort of thing. My Sex Pistols albums as well. But also, I don’t know, there’s just so much music to enjoy in the world. I also enjoy hip hop, particularly Kendrick Lamar, I find him to be a bit of a prophet, as well as a rapper. There’s such a smorgasbord of good stuff available these days. But Green Day, certainly growing up, was a big influence. The list goes on and on. But there’s all sorts of stuff to enjoy. And I really try to enjoy it all if I can.
Penny: I hope this is an easy question: what’s your favorite dish to bring to a potluck?
Richard: So this was the hardest question to answer for me. So the truth of the matter is, I love to bring brats; again, I’m a Wisconsinite. I’ll bring my bratwurst;, so it’s less of a potluck food and more of a cookout food, just because I like to boil them in beer and then just do them quickly on a grill just crisp them up really nicely. But Maura is an excellent baker. She loves to bring her brownies. She loves to bring cookies, and I’ll help with those. But they’re really her project. She’s the queen of that stuff. If I’m just cooking for us at home, I really enjoy making Thai food. I also really enjoy making that for guests too, because it’s a little panache, I guess, for a lot of folks. Yeah, I think that’s it. That was the toughest question.
Penny: It sounds like you and Maura really complement each other because you do the brats and she does the brownies. And what more could anybody want?
Richard: Exactly. Yeah, that’s our hope.
Penny: And I know that you’re excited about coming to St. Paul’s. And there’s a lot that happens at St. Paul’s. Is there one thing that you could pick out that you think you’ll enjoy the most?
Richard: Gosh, there are so many things I know we’ll enjoy. But I think that the first thing on a Sunday morning that I’m really looking forward to is the music. Just the beauty of that in that space with the sound effects that that space has, I’m really looking forward to that. In terms of ministry, the Sacred Ground in Action Group, I think has immense possibility. Whenever Christians are focused on reconciliation, we’re doing kind of the best work, I think we can do. And that can lead to amazing things happening, even if they feel small in the spectrum of the universe. They mean a lot in the lives of those on the margins, and it just shows our heart and the reflection of God’s kindom that I think we all hold and share. So those are just two things amongst so many more, but I’ll keep it to that for now.
Penny: Okay, and what do you think is the most important thing that you will bring to St. Paul’s, that you will add to our community?
Richard: I think just a fresh perspective, right? I think that’s always useful no matter what an organization is going through. And hopefully my experience will bring a different touch to a much wider system that seems to really be geared towards trying to change the world in the ways that it can, whether that be for the individual in the congregation, or for the folks who live right outside the walls of St. Paul’s. Yeah, I think my international experiences definitely bring a different look at things. My most recent experiences here in North County bring a different look at things. But I’m also excited for that the other way around, to hear all the new perspectives, meet all the new people for me at St. Paul’s, and really begin to form our little slice of God’s reign in the world.
Penny: I’m excited to have you here as a millennial. I know that I shouldn’t generalize about generations and particularly millennials, but I’m excited to have that different generation and that perspective, I think you represent the future of the Episcopal Church in a way that I can’t, so it’s great. I think it’s going to be a great team.
Richard: We’ll make it move forward together.
Penny: Yes, exactly. So last question is, what are two essential items for you to keep in your office and why?
Richard: So the first one people will notice I don’t have the examples here with me. They’re in my office in Oceanside. I have a fire truck, a toy fire truck that was given to me after one of one of my sermons at St. Andrews. The sermon, to do it quickly, was just about me as a preschooler enjoying a fire truck that was among the common playthings in the area. And because I played with the fire truck so much I thought it was mine. And so, when it was taken by somebody else to enjoy it just as much as I did, I was a little flustered by that; and fortunately, my teachers were able to set me on the right course. So someone from our congregation was kind enough to buy me a fire truck. So that the fire truck will be there. And it lights up and it makes noises and everything. But also, early on in our relationship Maura bought me a beautiful collage of pictures from our early time in seminary together along with our friends. And so both those things kind of root me deeply in ways that wouldn’t seem like it on the surface. But one is a symbol. Both are symbols of fun and frivolity, but also the depth of care that communities can show each other. And those are signs and symbols of that for me.
Penny: I look forward to seeing the rest of your decorations in your office in due course. So those were all the questions that we had on our list. I don’t know if you have a last sentence, a moment, a word that you wanted to add for the people of St. Paul’s.
Richard: Sure: folks, I am so ready to meet you all. You’ll have my new email and phone number soon enough, please don’t hesitate to call. It is part of my privilege and responsibility to get to know you all. And I really look forward to that. So feel free to make comments on anything you’ve just heard. And I want to hear the similar things from you all. I want to know what your passions, your drivers are, your joys, and the things that just make you laugh too. So I look forward to learning all of that.
Penny: Great. Thank you so much, Richard, I’m looking forward to you starting in the office on November 8, and then November 14 will be the first Sunday that everyone gets to meet you. So, friends at St. Paul’s, you can look forward to welcoming Richard; remember he’s got four weeks to work at his two current churches, so he’s got plenty to do in the next four weeks before he comes to us. But we will welcome him together on November 14. So I will see you all on Sunday.