Global: Remembering Fr. Kolvenbach’s commitment to refugees
02 December 2016

Jesuit Father Peter-Hans Kolvenbach died in Beirut, Lebanon on 26 November 2016. He served as the 29th Superior General of the Society of Jesus for almost twenty-five years, and strongly supported the JRS. (Jesuit Curia)
Rome, 2 December 2016 - The Jesuit Refugee Service family remembers Fr. Peter Hans Kolvenbach SJ, who died in Beirut, Lebanon on 26 November. Fr Kolvenbach served as the 29th Superior General of the Society of Jesus for almost twenty-five years, during one of the most challenging periods in its history.   

Fr. Kolvenbach was elected Superior General in 1983, succeeding JRS founder Fr. Pedro Arrupe SJ. He carried forward Fr. Arrupe’s legacy and consolidated the commitment of the Jesuits to respond to the enormous spiritual and material needs of refugees and other forcibly displaced worldwide.

“We want our presence among refugees to be one of sharing with them, of accompaniment, of walking together along the same path. In so far as possible, we want to feel what they have felt, suffer as they have, share the same hopes and aspirations, see the world through their eyes” he said in a letter entitled ‘Review of the Jesuit Refugee Service’ addressed to the Society in 1990.

During the years he was Superior General, the world was experiencing a dramatically increasing number of displaced people - almost 50 million refugees. Fr. Kolvenbach built upon Fr. Arrupe’s vision and identified the Society’s “natural mission to take care of people on the move”.

His legacy continues to inspire JRS staff in their work to accompany, serve, and advocate the rights of those forcibly displaced. “Hope increases when we help refugees to have faith in themselves and in their future, when love is out in deeds of education and vocation training which transforms past and present hatred into life”.

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Martina Bezzini