Fr. Hogan is the chaplain for traveling circuses across America. Often known as the "Circus Priest," Fr. Jerry celebrated his silver jubilee in 1999.
Fr. Jerry fell in love with the circus as a boy when his father took him to a Ringling Bros. And Barnum & Bailey show at the old Boston Garden. Though he followed the circus from afar as a seminarian, and later as a college chaplain, he rekindled his passion in 1990, when he joined the Circus Fans Association of America. He started corresponding with then circus chaplain Jack Toner who asked Hogan to pinch-hit for him on occasion. When heart trouble forced Toner to retire in 1993, he recommended Fr. Jerry as his replacement.
Fr. Jerry works under the auspices of the US. Catholic Conference of Bishops, which sponsors similar missions for seamen, migrant farm-workers, carnival employees and race-car drivers. The job of circus chaplain has been held by a Roman Catholic priest ever since Fr. Ed Sullivan founded the ministry in the mid-1920's.
"Some people believe you have to 'God talk' to be religious. I don't believe that. Part of my role is taking the misinformation that holiness is only something we do in Church and making it a real-life encounter. It's a ministry of presence. Circus performers are taking the gifts God has given them... whether it's comedy or tumbling and celebrating them. They share their gifts and skills and relieve pain."
Circus and Traveling Show Ministries (CTSM)
Mission Statement: We are a national body of Christian men and women (clergy, religious and lay) who serve as pastoral ministers among all persons called to work in the American traveling entertainment industries. * We provide a ministry of presence by affirming the love of God among them, sharing in their lives, and offering direct services, worship and advocacy. We carry out this ministry through full and part-time employment in the industries and by volunteer services. This work is supported by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, as part of its pastoral concern for people on the move. We network, communicate and gather annually to support one another in our involvement with the traveling entertainment industries. Our goals include: Improvement of catechetical and pastoral services through empowerment of those we serve. Support for efforts to improve quality of life in these areas: Educational/Literacy; Housing; Retirement and Elder Care; Health Care; Immigration; Work Satisfaction and an Affirming Environment; Development and utilization of resources to enhance the ministry.
* Including, but not limited to: circus, carnival and auto racing.
Business address for CTSM:
C/O St. Martha Catholic Church
200 N. Orange Ave.
Sarasota, FL 34226
Fr Jerry's Ministry is currently funded by Our Sunday Visitor and the Catholic Church Extension Society.
Project SPEC will assist a number of individuals from these communities of show people to attend on-line courses in Catechesis at the University of Dayton. The hope is that the spiritual lives of these individuals will be enriched and the fruits of their studies will be shared with their communities. If you would like to donate or know more about this project please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org