Getting to know Rev. John Thiede, S.J., vice president for mission and ministry 

Rev. John Thiede, S.J., vice president for mission and ministry, stands in St. Joan of Arc Chapel.
Rev. John Thiede, S.J., vice president for mission and ministry, stands in St. Joan of Arc Chapel.

Rev. John Thiede, S.J., has an impressive array of interests. A globetrotter, Marquette’s vice president for mission and ministry has a wide range of hobbies and musical tastes.  

The Minnesota native took time to talk with Marquette Today talk about some of his personal fun facts, including his puck skills on the ice.  

Hometown: Plymouth, Minnesota 

Family: Brother Jeff and sister-in-law Susan, nephews Ben and Joe, and niece Parker; sister Kay and brother-in-law Mike, nephew and godson Sean, nieces Autumn and Maureen 

What are your favorite hobbies and interests?

I love playing hockey and golf. I like to sing, and I played French horn and piano until I broke my fingers playing football in high school. When I joined the Jesuits, it allowed me to play piano again, which led me to enroll in a music conservatory during my philosophy studies in Chile. There, I learned music composition, which led to me having three copyrighted liturgical songs recorded in the Hollywood Hills. I have almost every U2, Bob Dylan, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen and James Taylor album ever released, as well as Shakira, Shania Twain, Alanis Morissette and Faith Hill.  

I also enjoy playing chess and being outside. 

What are your favorite movies?

I love the original “Star Wars” trilogy, as well as all the “Lord of the Rings” movies. I also like “Caddyshack,” “The Mission,” “Slapshot” and “The Usual Suspects.” 

Who are your heroes?

In my high school yearbook, I wrote “my mom, my dad, Dick Butkus and Richard Nixon” — the Nixon part only being a joke. But, today, I would say: St. Oscar Romero, Ignacio Ellacuria, Blessed Rutilio Grande, the U.S. Churchwomen killed in El Salvador, Sister Dorothy Stang, St. Thomas More, Jesus, Socrates, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Ghandi, Pedro Arrupe, S.J., Saint Jean de Brebeuf, S.J., and the North American (Canadian) Martyrs. And, still, my parents.  

Any favorite quotes?

I have Shakespeare’s “To be, or not to be” soliloquy memorized, as well as “life’s but a walking shadow,” from “Macbeth.” But my favorite quote right now is our mission theme this year, En todo amar y servir which in English is “to love and serve in everything.” 

Rev. John Thiede greets students

What are you currently reading?

“Ecotheology and Martyrdom” by Elizabeth Gandolfo and Matt Ashley’s latest book, “Renewing Theology: Ignatian Spirituality and Karl Rahner, Ignacio.”  

Any favorite vacation spots?

Glacier National Park; Munich, Germany; and northern Minnesota lakes. My future dream trips include Hawaii, mainland China, Greece and Turkey.  

What was your biggest career learning experience?

I feel like I have learned a lot in every job I have had, both before I entered the Jesuits and as a Jesuit. Some of my most enjoyable coaching experiences were at Marquette University High School coaching hockey, but they also provided some of my toughest learning experiences regarding team dynamics, learning to manage my own emotions, helping others deal with adversity, etc. I also learned there are many different ways to motivate people.   

Any fun facts people should know about you?

I’ve got a few fun facts. My family fun fact is I have a very large family, including over 30 first cousins. In fact, I share a birthday with one of my cousin’s daughters and my maternal grandfather before he passed. My academic fun fact is I completed my Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame under the direction of J. Matthew Ashley, but since I had a library on the same floor as the office of Father Ted Hesburgh, C.S.C., who was the long-time and well-respected president there, we met with some frequency to talk about Catholic Higher Education, our vocations, and life in general.  And my personal fun fact is that in my free time during the winter, you can sometimes find me at a hockey rink. I love playing hockey and I’ve been playing defense in a men’s no-check hockey league in Milwaukee since my return in 2012.