Father Peter Hans Kolvenbach, the 29th Superior General of the Society of Jesus, led the worldwide Jesuits from September 13, 1983 to 2008, and who voluntarily resigned, died on Saturday, in Beirut four days before his 88th birthday.
Here is an interview with Father Kolvenbach.
Peter-Hans Kolvenbach was born on Nov. 30, 1928 in Druten, Holland, near Nijmegen, an area where the Dutch, French and German cultures coalesced. The young Kolvenbach entered the Society of Jesus in 1948. He was a Jesuit for 68 years and a priest for 55. He was ordained an Armenian Catholic priest on June 29, 1961. After tertianship in Pomfret, CT, he professed 4 vows as a Jesuit on 15 August 1969. Of late, he was an assistant librarian and residing in the Jesuit community in Lebanon.
Father Kolvenbach’s professional life had him serving as a professor of theology, and linguistics at St. Joseph University; he was appointed the vice-provincial of the Jesuits’ Near East Vice-Province, which includes Egypt, Lebanon and Syria. In 1981, Father Pedro Arrupe appointed him, which was approved by the Holy See, to serve as rector of the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome, a position he held until his election as Superior General on 13 September 1983; he was elected on the first ballot.
As a new way of proceeding his discernment led him to request the consent of Pope Benedict XVI of resigning the leadership of the Society which was accepted at General Congregation 35 in 2008. He cited age and the length of time of service. Some speculate that this decision led to Benedict’s own resignation.
May Our Lady of the Way, St Ignatius and all Jesuit saints and blesseds, show him the way to the Lord of Life.