Peter Hans Kolvenbach
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|Society of Jesus|
History of the Jesuits
Kolvenbach's childhood was spent in Druten, near Nijmegen in the Netherlands. There, he attended Canisius College for his secondary studies. At Canisius, he concentrated on modern languages. He entered the novitiate at Mariendaal on 7 September 1948. After completing philosophy studies at Berchmans Institute in Nijmegen, he was assigned to Lebanon, where he completed his doctorate in Sacred Theology at Université de Saint-Joseph in Beirut. In 1961, he was ordained a priest in the Armenian Catholic Church, an Eastern-rite church in communion with Rome.
The next years of his life were spent in academia, specifically in linguistics. From 1964 to 1976, he taught general and Oriental linguistics in The Hague, Paris, and Beirut. Eventually, he was appointed Professor of General Linguistics and Armenian at Université de Saint-Joseph. He served in that capacity until 1981, when he became rector of the Pontifical Oriental Institute.
On August 7, 1981 Father General Pedro Arrupe suffered a severe stroke in the plane on his way back to Rome. Although he survived for another ten years, he wanted to step down as Superior General. Due to the personal intervention of Pope John Paul II, two Jesuits were appointed to lead the order: Paolo Dezza and Giuseppe Pittau, contrary to the provisions of the order itself.
During the 33rd General Congregation of the Society of Jesus, which was summoned to receive the formal resignation of Father Pedro Arrupe, Father Kolvenbach was elected as the order's 29th Superior General on 13 September 1983.
On 2 February 2006, Fr. Kolvenbach informed the members of the Society of Jesus that, with the consent of Pope Benedict XVI, he intended to step down in 2008, the year he would turn 80. As the Superior General is elected for life, Kolvenbach was only the second to resign the office.
The 35th General Congregation of the Society of Jesus convened on 5 January 2008 in Rome. On 14 January it accepted Kolvenbach's resignation and elected Adolfo Nicolás as his successor.
- Thomas E. Zeyen, S.J. Jesuit Generals: A Glance into a Forgotten Corner. University of Scranton Press, 2004
|Superior General of the Society of Jesus
1983 – 2008