Development director exemplifies alternative lifestyle and passion for his work

Rob Hohler sits in his office at St. Thomas More University Parish. Photo by Sarah Bailey

By Sarah Bailey

When Rob Hohler first came to Bowling Green State University as an undergraduate student, he wasn’t sure about his faith.

In fact, he even said his path was a bit crooked.

“I kind of came to college with the hopes and aspirations of becoming a millionaire,” he said.

In a world and culture where many businessmen, political candidates and entrepreneurs may center their idea of success on wealth, Hohler’s journey reflects his alternative lifestyle. As an undergraduate student, Hohler started at BGSU as a business major hoping to obtain a degree that he could make as much money as possible with. Now, he is a church employee who lives a life concentrated on praying, working and living his faith.

In his office, decorated with Christian quotes and crosses, many wouldn’t assume the Catholic-raised 24-year-old had swayed from his faith at some point in his life. While he currently works as the development director at St.Thomas More University Parish, when Hohler first came to BGSU he said he was “spotty” even going to Mass.

As an undergraduate, Hohler considered himself isolated. He had friends, but not true companionship, he said. He spent his time playing video games, sleeping too much and feeling introverted.

“Though I had direction in life, I didn’t know why I was going there,” he said.

In the first semester of his sophomore year, Hohler found his way. He attended a semi-annual retreat at St. Thomas More after being repeatedly invited by the Rev. Michael Danduarand, he said. At the retreat he made friends and deepened his desire to be a part of the parish’s community.

“It was pretty easy for me to see that this is the life I wanted to live, and this is what my life would be about,” he said. “It’s a focal point, the purpose of life.”

He then went away for a semester to California in order to grow as a person. In searching for himself, he discovered that there was more in the world beyond him. During his journey, he said there were times where he simply couldn’t be on his own. That’s when he realized God, who was greater than himself, was with him. When he came back, he moved straight into the Newman center, a housing option available for BGSU students who want to share a prayer-based schedule. During the next two years, he became very involved at the parish, grew in his faith and continues to live at the Newman center.

This is a photo of Rob Hohler with Ryan Moninger, Kyle Moninger, Martha Gutierrez and Brittany Smith on an alternative spring break trip in 2011. Photo provided by Kyle Moninger.

“When I moved in here, I just encountered an incredible community,” he said.

Ryan Moninger, a junior who currently lives with Hohler in the Newman center and has known him since the fall of 2010, said he valued his friendship with Hohler.

“Next to my twin brother, Kyle, he’s my best friend here in college,” said Moninger, a junior majoring in architecture.

Moninger bonded with Hohler over “Halo,” a popular Xbox video game, when they began living together. He said Hohler has faced past issues, but has since risen above them.

“He’s always a source of encouragement for me and an example that I can look up to,” he said.

Along with encountering a new community came adjustments also, Hohler said. While he now lives a life focused on morning, evening prayer, mass and planning retreats, when he first moved into the Newman center it was a transition, he said.

“I was redefining what I thought about life and how I approached things,” he said. “It was like a new discovery.”

While other development directors at different churches may focus their jobs solely on raising money, a sign on Hohler’s wall in his office shows his approach is a different one.

On his bulletin board hangs a quote by Mother Theresa with a dollar bill that says,

“God does not call us to be successful. He calls us to be faithful.”

Hohler received the dollar from a friend. Before the quote was on the board, he had posted a “million dollar goal” with the dollar, he said.

“It was a bit of a sarcastic goal,” he said. Anytime someone would see it, the sign would seem very far from achieving the goal. It’s a joke that shows how someone just has to be faithful to God to find true success, he said.

Hohler graduated with a degree in business administration in 2010. Now, while he could be making more money than he is, Hohler looks at his degree as a way to serve the Lord, he said.

While lists the highest annual salary of a church development director as $73,000, according to, annual salaries in marketing and sales management can climb up to $151,260.

“I certainly could’ve made a lot more money than what I’m making now, so it definitely wasn’t the money,” he said.

Now Hohler organizes retreats twice a year, arranges the development efforts of the parish, does marketing and has various other responsibilities. One of the most fulfilling aspects of working with the retreat program is seeing the mission of the church, which is to bring people in, come alive, he said.

“The sort of life I’ve been blessed to live became really natural to me. It’s what I wanted to do. I don’t feel like I’m making a great sacrifice to be here. I feel like this is a gift to me,” Hohler said.

Tegan Gahan, a junior who has known Rob for four years, has seen him develop over the years.

“His role for me was a spiritual leader and showing me what the Catholic faith was about,” said Gahan, an exercise science major.

Hohler has always been very passionate about his Catholicism and his personality makes him an interesting person to get to know, she said.

“As you get to know him, you realize he will go out of his way for anyone,” she said. One time Gahan said she lost her car keys on a retreat and Hohler had her car towed to her apartment so that it wouldn’t get taken away.

“You couldn’t count the things that he’s done over the years to help other people,” she said.

When it comes to Hohler’s faith and how he sees himself now compared to four years ago, one aspect has changed, he said.

“I have always been a child of God,” he said. “God has always been there. The difference between now and then is that I know that.”