Profile of Fr Peter Hans Kolvenbach S.J.
29th Superior General of the Society of Jesus
Fr Peter Hans Kolvenbach with Pope Benedict XVI in Rome (L'Osservatore Romano photographic service, Vatican City)
Fr Peter Hans Kolvenbach S.J. was born on November 30, 1928, in Druten, The Netherlands, Fr Kolvenbach was ordained to the priesthood in 1961 in Beirut. He became Provincial of the Vice-Province of the Near East in 1974, and in 1981 was appointed rector of the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome.
Fr Kolvenbach is the 29th Superior General of the Society of Jesus, the largest religious order of the Catholic Church. He was elected General for life in 1983 on the first ballot during the 33rd General Congregation of the Society of Jesus.
Fr Kolvenbach, who has been Superior General for almost 25 years, closely follows the lives and works of some 20,000 Jesuits worldwide, constantly providing leadership as the Society reads the signs of the times and responds, according to the ideals of St Ignatius, the order's founder, through its apostolic, intellectual, educational and social apostolates. In line with a decision of the 34th General Congregation held in 1995, he has consistently promoted Jesuit-lay collaboration.
With the consent of Pope Benedict XVI, with whom all Jesuits are specially bound by a vow of obedience, Fr Kolvenbach, who next year will turn 80, intends to present his resignation to the 35th General Congregation of the Society of Jesus, which will convene on January 5 in Rome. The assembled Jesuit Provincials and elected delegates from the Provinces will then elect a new superior-general, and decide other important policy for the Jesuit order for the years to come.
Superiors-general of the Society of Jesus are elected for life, but since 1966, they can present their resignation, for serious reasons. Fr Pedro Arrupe was the first to avail himself of this possibility in 1983.
Fr Kolvenbach visit Malta on three occasions, the latest being on the occasion of St Aloysius' College centenary celebrations