Jesuit Fr. Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, 29th Superior General of the Society of Jesus, died in Beirut, Lebanon, today. He was 87 and served as Superior General from 1983 to 2008.
Father Kolvenbach was born in Druten, Netherlands, in 1928. He lived most of his teen years during the German occupation of the Netherlands.
Father Kolvenbach entered the Society of Jesus in 1948 and spent many years in academic life, primarily teaching linguistics in Lebanon. He later served as the vice provincial of the Near East, made up of Egypt, Lebanon, and Syria. In 1981 he was appointed as rector at the Oriental Institute in Rome, a position he held until his election as Superior General in 1983.
As Superior General, Fr. Kolvenbach visited as many Jesuit provinces and individual Jesuits as he could. In 1995 he directed the Jesuits’ General Congregation 34, which addressed issues including the mission of the Society in the modern world.
In February 2006, Fr. Kolvenbach informed the members of the Society of Jesus of his intention, with the consent of Pope Benedict XVI, to step down. His resignation was accepted at General Congregation 35 in 2008. When asked about his plans for retirement, Fr. Kolvenbach stated his hope that he could join the Jesuits in the Near East to be a help in that war-torn region. [Source: Ignatian Spirituality]