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Peter Hans Kolvenbach

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Title: Peter Hans Kolvenbach  
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Subject: Santa Clara University, Ignatian Center for Jesuit Education, Society of Jesus, 1928
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Peter Hans Kolvenbach

Very Rev. Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J., S.T.D. (born November 30, 1928) was the 29th Superior General of the Society of Jesus, the largest male Catholic religious order.[1]


Fr. Peter Hans Kolvenbach, S.J., Superior General emeritus of the Society of Jesus, in Goa, India, 9 November 2006.

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 1963 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.

During his time on the Faculty of Saint-Joseph, he also served as provincial superior of the Jesuit vice-province of the Middle East.

Father General

On August 7, 1981 the late 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.


His Biography on from Oct 2004 at the Wayback Machine (archived September 29, 2007)

  1. ^ Thomas E. Zeyen, S.J. Jesuit Generals: A Glance into a Forgotten Corner. University of Scranton Press, 2004
Preceded by
Pedro Arrupe
Superior General of the Society of Jesus
1983 – 2008
Succeeded by
Adolfo Nicolás
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