Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Obituary: Father John D. Hoke


Father John D. Hoke, 74, of Milton passed away on Friday, June 28, at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville.

Born in Rapid City, South Dakota, at Ellsworth Air Force Base on August 5, 1949, he was the second son of a military family. His mother Barbara Marie and his father John Michael, an Air Force Chief Master Sergeant, had three other children: Michael, Jane and Michelle. Michael served in the Marine Corps and was killed in Viet Nam in 1967.

The Hokes moved from South Dakota to Alaska following John’s assignment to Elmendorf Air Force Base. Father Hoke was a 1967 graduate of West Anchorage High School and attended his first year of college at Alaska Methodist University, also in Anchorage. In 1971, he graduated Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Md., with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and classical philosophy and continued his studies as a 1975 graduate at Mount St Mary’s Seminary with a master’s degree in divinity.

He was ordained to the priesthood in 1976 by Bishop Joseph T. Daley. He began his priestly ministry in the Diocese of Harrisburg as parochial vicar at St. Rose of Lima Parish in York, and ministered to the spiritual needs of inmates at York County Prison. From 1979-1981, Father Hoke served as parochial vicar at St. Patrick Parish in Carlisle, where he also assisted at the Army War College chapel.

On January 6, 1981, he began 13 years of service as hospital chaplain and campus minister at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, and resided at St. Joan of Arc Parish in Hershey. From 1993-1994, he served as parochial vicar at Corpus Christi parish in Chambersburg. Father Hoke then went to St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Annville, where he was pastor and administrator from 1994-1999.

In addition to his chaplaincy and pastoral ministries, Father Hoke served as a member of the Presbyteral Council and as Cursillo Spiritual Director.

In 2000, Father Hoke was commissioned as an officer in the United States Navy and completed Chaplain’s School in Newport, Rhode Island. His ten-year tour as a Navy chaplain took him to the Navy Air Station in Keflavik, Iceland for 18 months. He then served more than three years with artillery and infantry units of the 2nd Marine Division based at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. In 2004, Father Hoke served with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Force in Afghanistan, and was assigned as chaplain at the U.S. Coast Guard Training Center in Petaluma, California. In December 2007, he reported to the USS Ronald Reagan as onboard chaplain, where he ministered to more than 6,000 sailors on the seven ships within the carrier strike group.

When his Navy chaplaincy ended in September 2011, he returned to the Diocese of Harrisburg, serving in replacement ministry. While receiving treatment for prostate cancer at Bethesda Naval Medical Center, he served there as a hospital chaplain.

On March 1, 2012, he was assigned administrator of St. Joseph Parish in Milton, where he became paster three months later. During his 12 years as pastor, he faithfully tended to the spiritual needs of parishioners, inspired a greater love and devotion to the Eucharist and Our Lady, lifted the burden of parish debt, cultivated a renewed spirit of giving and worked tirelessly to enrich the spiritual lives of God’s people in the Milton community. Father Hoke’s words gave light and comfort to many, and his deeds set an example of holiness that will endure beyond his time on earth.

Father Hoke is survived by his sisters Jane B. Fellman and her husband James of Alaska, and Michelle Wise and her husband Dirk of Spring Mills; eight beloved nieces and nephews, Patricia Beery and her husband Travis, Jacob Fellman and his wife Jillian, Lukas Fellman and his wife Nikki, Gabriel Fellman, Matthew Fellman and his wife Melissa, Michael Wise and his wife Lissa, Jennifer Wise and Philip Wise; and 11 grand nieces and nephews.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by a brother, Michael Thomas Hoke.

A Prayer Service of Transferal will be held on Sunday, July 7, at 5 p.m. with Father Mark Wilke and Father Fred Wangwe. A public viewing will follow at St. Joseph Catholic Church, 109 Broadway Street, Milton. The Funeral Mass will be on Monday, July 8, at 2 p.m. at the church with Father Michael Rothan serving as homilist and Bishop Timothy Senior officiating. Burial with military honors will follow in St. Joseph Cemetery, Milton.

To follow the services by live stream, visit the parish’s Facebook page at this link.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to St. Joseph Catholic Church 109 Broadway, Milton, PA 17874. Please put Father Hoke on the memo line.

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