Divine Word Missionaries

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Divine Word Missionaries
Official name Society of the Divine Word
Latin name Societas Verbi Divini
Order abbreviation SVD
founding September 8, 1875 in Steyl , the Netherlands
founder Arnold Janssen
Members 6000 (as of 2020
Website steyler.eu
Statue of St. Arnold Janssen , the founder of the Steyler missionaries. Location: Mission House St. Arnold
Church of the mission house in St. Wendel
Missionshaus St. Arnold in Neuenkirchen- St. Arnold , on the right in the background the Arnold-Janssen-Gymnasium

The Steyler Missionaries , actually Society of the Divine Word ( Latin Societas Verbi Divini , hence Verbiti , Werbiści or similar in other languages ), are a religious order under papal law in the Roman Catholic Church . The name of the community is derived from the place where it was founded, Steyl , which is now a district of Venlo in the Netherlands . The order abbreviation (which is added to the names of the order members) is SVD.

Ten thousand Steyler missionaries, missionaries and sisters of worship in around seventy countries around the world belong to the religious family. The Divine Word Missionaries are the seventh largest male order in the Catholic Church.

Founding of orders

Society of the Divine Word

In Steyl , the Netherlands , on September 8, 1875 , Arnold Janssen founded the St. Michael Mission House , from which the Society of the Divine Word - SVD ( Latin Societas Verbi Divini) emerged. In Germany in the 1870s it was not possible to found a monastery because of the Kulturkampf . The Bishop of Roermond , Joannes Paredis , accepted Arnold Janssen in his diocese and supported him.

The brothers and priests of the Congregation live in international and multicultural communities where they preach the gospel message. Through the religious vows they bind themselves to the community. At present, around 6,000 priests and brothers work in all continents of the world.

A community of six priests in 1875 became an international religious order of priests and brothers, which in addition to the Steyler missionaries also includes two sister congregations. These are the Steyler Missionary Sisters (SSpS) - they work for people in over 40 countries around the world - and the Steyler Adoration Sisters .

The congregations for women

In addition to the Steyl missionaries, Arnold Janssen also founded two women's orders, the motherhouse of which is also located in Steyl:

organization structure

Like other orders, the religious community is divided into provinces , in which several communities and religious houses are grouped together. It is headed by a provincial superior and a provincial council.

At the head of the general order with all provinces and local communities is the general superior (also called general ), to whom all members of the order are subordinate. He is elected by delegates from all the provinces to the General Chapter , the highest decision-making body of the Order, and his term of office is six years; the superior general can be re-elected twice at most. He heads the order together with the elected general council. The seat of the Order's leadership and the general administration is the Generalate, which initially had its seat in Steyl and has been in Rome since 1928 , in the Collegio del Verbo Divino ("College of the Divine Word") near the Porta San Paolo .

The Indonesian Paulus Budi Kleden has been the Order's Superior General since 2018 . He was elected at the 18th General Chapter, which took place from June 17 to July 14, 2018 in the Centro Ad Gentes in Nemi near Rome, and is the first Superior General from Indonesia; his predecessor was the German Heinz Kulüke since 2012 .


Proclamation of the Word of God

The first missionaries who were sent to China were supposed to help establish Christian churches. Until today this is the main task of the Steyler missionaries all over the world.

Dialogue of Cultures

The Christian mandate of respect and respect for the other determined from the beginning how the Steyler missionaries deal with other cultures and traditions. They founded numerous institutes around the world for this dialogue between cultures, e. B. by the Swiss Father Georg Proksch, who opened the Gyan Ashram center in Mumbai in 1955. Christianity was proclaimed to Indians through the mediation of the Gospel in the form of dance.

With their research in the areas of ethnology, anthropology , religious studies and missiology, the Steylers help their missionaries to proclaim a Christianity that is adapted to the respective peoples and does not simply try to transfer the Western tradition into other religions.

Use for the poor

Working for the disadvantaged in society is another focus of her work. The Steyler missionaries work for justice and human dignity in various projects around the world.

Preservation of creation

As Christians, it is a matter of concern for the Divine Word missionaries in view of the ecological crisis to work for the good of all creation.

Institutions in Germany

Fields of work and institutions

Worldwide there are more than 1,500 young men in training who have decided to become Steyler missionaries forever.
  • Temporary missionaries
Every year the Steyler missionaries send around fifteen young women and men as temporary missionaries to their areas of work around the world. There they volunteer for faith, peace and justice.
Mission House St. Augustin; Former location of the Philosophical-Theological University SVD
  • Steyler Mission - Missionsprokur of the German province
The mission procuration of the German province of the Steyler missionaries is the service point for the German missionaries abroad. In addition, it ensures the financing of aid projects abroad, which have the holistic development of the people in the pastoral as well as in the social area in mind. This includes training for church workers, Bible institutes and language schools. Likewise, the Missionsprokur organizes meeting days and lecture series in the sense of its missionary awareness building in Germany, reports in congregations and groups and carries out public relations work.
  • steyl media
  • Apostolate of Divine Words from the Magazines
The Divine Word Missionaries publish a magazine: Leben Now , which has been published as a family magazine since 2020 as the successor to the City of God magazine . By 2018, the Wide World , which was aimed at young people, and the PICO , whose target group were children, were also published. In addition, the Michael calendar , the Steyler picture calendar and the Steyler mission chronicle appear annually .

Commercial enterprise

  • Steyler Bank
  • Soverdia (Societas Verbi Divini) Gesellschaft für Gemeinwohl mbH , business enterprise for asset management
  • "Heimwohl AG Mivremia (Missiehouse voor vreemde Missien)", later "Rheinwohnungsbau GmbH" (founded in 1931, transferred to the Archdiocese of Cologne in 1982 )
  • Divine mission. Charitable Society for Foreign Mission mbH , St. Augustin (formerly: Missionsprokur)

The religious order in Austria

A prerequisite for a mission house in Austria was an imperial ordinance from 1850, according to which the board of directors of such an institution had to be "as a rule an Austrian citizen". The community of Goggendorf (meanwhile cadastral community of Sitzendorf an der Schmida ) granted the founder of the order through the mediation of the local pastor the right of home and Janssen, who had thus received Austrian citizenship, was able to set up the Saint Gabriel mission house in the community of Maria Enzersdorf near Mödling south of Vienna which opened on October 14, 1889. In 1904 Janssen founded a second mission house in Austria, the St. Rupert Mission House in Bischofshofen in the province of Salzburg , which was used as a school from the start.

Kloosterdorp Steyl

The monasteries of the Steyl religious family together form the Kloosterdorp Steyl (occasionally also spelled Steijl).

Mission Museum

The Missionsmuseum Steyl , which has remained unchanged since 1931, shows objects from all over the world. The purpose of the museum was to give visitors from back then information and insights into distant countries and cultures.

Centrum St. Michael and Sacred Heart Monastery

In the education house of the Divine Word Missionaries St. Michael and in the Sacred Heart Monastery of the Divine Word Missionary Sisters, courses and seminars on silence and reflection are offered.

Well-known members of the order

Saints and blessed

The founder of these three mission societies, Arnold Janssen, and the China missionary Josef Freinademetz were canonized on October 5, 2003 .

On 13 June 1999, Grzegorz Frackowiak (executed in the District Court of Dresden in May 1943), Stanislaw Kubista , Alojzy Liguda and Ludwik Mzyk of Pope John Paul II. Beatified .

Victims of National Socialism

As "martyrs from the time of National Socialism " the Divine Word Fathers were Heribert Abel , (1916-1944), John Frank , (1900-1945), Gottfried Fuchs , (1892-1945), George Heath , (1885-1945), Franz Riepe (1885–1942) and Alfons Versen (1913–1944) included in the German Martyrology of the 20th Century .

Scientist scientist

The founder of the Society of the Divine Word was a mathematician who, in addition to theology and philosophy, particularly promoted the study of natural sciences, ethnology and linguistics for members of his missionary order. The Steyler missionaries made a special contribution to young ethnology, but also to missiology. In addition to the founder of the Anthropos magazine , P. Wilhelm Schmidt , his students, P. Martin Gusinde , P. Wilhelm Koppers , P. Paul Schebesta , P. Michael Schulien , P. Josef Henninger , P. Louis Luzbetak , P. Arnold Burgmann , P. Rudolf Rahmann , P. Dominik Schröder , P. Wilhelm Saake and many more should be mentioned. Father Stephen Fuchs founded the Institute of Indian Culture in East Andheri, Mumbai, which is headed by the Indian anthropologist and missiologist SM Michael SVD.

Several pioneers of Catholic missiology were members of the SVD, such as B. Friedrich Schwager , Theodor Grentrup , Anton Freitag and Johannes Thauren . Other deserving missiologists from the SVD are P. Karl Müller (mission scientist) , P. Horst Rzepkowski , P. Johannes Bettray , P. Eugen Nunnenmacher , P. Kurt Piskaty, P. Stephen B. Bevans , P. Roger P. Schroeder , P. . Ennio Mantovani , Paul B. Steffen , Henri van Straelen and Franz helmet .

As a sinologist , the Fathers made Franz Xaver Biallas , Heinrich Busch, Eugen Feifel , Willi Müller, Leopold Leeb and Roman Malek earned. Among the theologians, Fathers Clemens Thoma (Judaist), Johannes Füllenbach (fundamental theologian ), Ludger Feldkämper (exegete) and Karl-Heinz Peschke (moral theologian), the communication scientist Franz-Josef Eilers and the Dutch Thomas Aquinas specialist Leo Elders are world-renowned . The German pastoral theologian Hermann Kochanek and the St. Gabriel professor of philosophy Paul Michalke should also be mentioned . The St. Gabriel theologian Heinrich Giese made a name for himself as a reformer of the teacher education system in Austria.

Fathers Hermann Fischer , Fritz Bornemann , Albert Rohner, Johann Kraus, Jakob Reuter , Richard Hartwich , Johannes Fleckner, Karl-Josef Rivinius and Josef Alt made a special contribution to the processing of the Steyl order and mission history .

Sexual Abuse Guidelines

On October 26, 2010, the German Order Province put the guidelines on conduct towards victims of sexual abuse into force in its area, which had been adopted in August 2010 by the German Conference of Superiors of the Order .

In the boarding school of the Steyler missionaries in St. Wendel, Saarland, there were two cases of sexual abuse in the 1960s and 1980s. After internal research, Father Bernd Werle , Provincial of the Order, declared in 2010 that he felt “powerless and ashamed of the guilt that the confreres had on themselves at the time”. He asked forgiveness from the victims and their families.

In 2018, allegations of child abuse were brought against the US pastor Richard Daschbach , who worked in East Timor , who was subsequently deposed as a priest and has been on trial since 2021. The order is said to have offered financial support to the victims, but according to its own statements it failed due to the lack of cooperation of those who now run the Daschberg children's home. The case is the first of its kind in the Southeast Asian country.

Aid to tax evasion and donation laundering

Master painters, doctors and merchants had donated large sums of money to the business enterprise of the Soverdia Gesellschaft für Gemeinwohl mbH , based in Nettetal-Kaldenkirchen, which administers the order's assets, and had 80 percent of it reimbursed secretly; those who donated 2,000 DM received a receipt for 10,000 DM.

During a house search in 1981 , the tax investigator Klaus Förster also found documents from the Flick Group . After that, the company had used the monastery for a decade as a money laundering facility and for increasing money. A total of 12.3 million D-Marks, around six million euros from the group , flowed into the coffers of the Steyler Mission. On the part of the Steyler Mission, the procurator of the Lower German order province, Josef Schröder, was the negotiating partner, who was also the managing director of the "Soverdia Gesellschaft für Gemeinwohl mbH". In 1981, Schröder was sentenced to a fine of 36,000 DM by the Bonn District Court for aiding and abetting tax evasion.

In a report by Frankfurter Allgemeine on the CDU donation affair uncovered in 1999, the Steyler Mission in Sankt Augustin is named as a washing facility for illegal party donations ; Their business subsidiary Soverdia also participated.

Monasteries, schools and universities of the Steyler missionaries


Divine Word Missionaries

Former branches

Divine Mission Sisters



  • PICO , a magazine for children up to 9 years of age (discontinued at the end of 2018)
  • Weite Welt , a magazine for 9 to 12 year olds (discontinued at the end of 2018)
  • Leben now , family magazine, successor of the city god
  • Monumenta Serica , a sinological journal (annually)
  • Anthropos , an ethnological journal (twice a year)
  • Verbum SVD , contains topics from missiology and mission theology
  • Steyler Missionary Chronicle , informs once a year about the work of the Steyler missionaries.
  • The suggestion , monthly publication with sermon drafts and liturgical components for the Sundays and feast days. Only available online since 2011.

See also


  • Hermann on the Heide SVD: The Mission Society of Steyl. A picture of the first 25 years of its existence. Anniversary gift on September 8, 1900 , publ. Of the Missionsdruckerei in Steyl, Kaldenkirchen (Rhld.) 1900, 607 pp.
  • Anton Freitag SVD: The Missions of the Society of the Divine Word. Handbook on the geography, history and missionary studies of those areas in which the Steyl missionaries are currently active , publ. Of the Missionsdruckerei Steyl, Post Kaldenkirchen (Rhineland) 1912, 146 pp.
  • Hermann Fischer SVD (Ed.), In the service of the Divine Word 1875–1925 , Verl. Der Missionsdruckerei, Steyl 1925.
  • Hermann Fischer: Arnold Janssen, founder of the Steyler Missionswerk. Ein Lebensbild , Verl. Der Missionsdruckerei, Steyl 1919, 493 pp.
  • Augustin Henninghaus SVD: Fr. Josef Freinademetz: His life and work. At the same time contributions to the history of the South Shantung Mission . Publishing house of the Catholic Mission, Yenchowfu 1920, 2nd edition 1926.
  • Hermann Fischer: Life of Arnold Janssen. Founder of the Society of the Divine Word and the Missionary Congregation of the Servants of the Holy Ghost , translated by Frederic M. Lynk, Mission Press SVD: Techny, Illinois / USA 1925, 520 S., reprinted by Literary Licensing, LLC 2012, ISBN 978-1258416744 .
  • Anton Freitag SVD: Seed of faith in blood and tears. The Missions of the Society of the Divine Word in Asia, Africa, Oceania and America on the eve of the Second World War. Their sufferings and fates during and after the war. Towards the new spring , Steyler Missionsbuchhandlung, Kaldenkirchen, Rhld. 1948, 446 pp.
  • Society of the Divine Word (Ed.), 75 years in the service of the Divine Word. Commemorative sheets for the 75th anniversary of the Steyler Missionswerk 1875–1950 , Steyler Missionsdruckerei, Steyl 1950, 224 pp.
  • Steyler Missionswissenschaftliches Institut (Ed.): Steyl 1875–1975. More than an adventure. In the 100th year of its existence, the Steyler Mission Society of the Divine Word reports on its mission areas , in: Steyler Missionschronik 1975 , Steyler Verl., St. Augustin 1975, 192 pp.
  • Heinrich Kroes: Missions of the Society of the Divine Word in China , in: Steyler Missionschronik 1975 , 35–43.
  • Richard Arens: The mission universities of the Society of the Divine Word , in: Steyler Missionschronik 1975 , 177-192.
  • Karl Müller: Society of the Divine Word 1875-1975 , in Verbum SVD 17: 1 (1976) 8-18.
  • Rudolf Pöhl: What are we: religious and / or missionaries? Six models of interpretation of spirituality in the SVD , in: Verbum SVD 17: 1 (1976) 32–55.
  • Heinrich Emmerich SVD: Atlas Societatis Verbi Divini et Congregatio Servarum Spiritus Sancti , Collegium Verbi Divini, Romae 1981.
  • P. Hans Brunner SVD (Hrsg.): 100 years Missionshaus St. Gabriel 1889–1989 , 167 p., Verlag St. Gabriel: Mödling 1989.
  • Josef Alt SVD: The History of the Mission House Saint Gabriel of the Society of the Divine Word. The 1st century , Verlag St. Gabriel: Mödling 1990, 431 pages, ISBN 3-85264-350-3 .
  • Society of the Divine Word (SVD) (ed.): SVD Word in the World 1994/95. The Society of the Divine Word (SVD) reports on its world-wide missionary activities. - Divine Word Missionaries: One Hundred Years in North America 1895-1995 , Steyler Verlag, Nettetal 1994, 239 pp., ISBN 3-8050-0345-5 .
  • Divine Word Mission Research Institute (ed.): Divine Word Missionaries in Papua New Guinea from 1896 to 1996. Festschrift , Steyler Verlag: Nettetal (Germany), 258 pp., ISBN 3-8050-0380-3 . (simultaneously in: Verbum SVD 37: 1-2 (1996) 3-258).
  • Stephen Bevans - Roger Schroeder: Word remembered, word proclaimed. Selected Papers from Symposia Celebrating the SVD Centennial in North America , Steyler Verlag: Nettetal (Germany) 1997, 255 pp., ISBN 3-8050-0398-6 .
  • Ernest Brandewie: In the Light of the Word: Divine Word Missionaries of North America , Orbis Books: Maryknoll, New York 2000, 408 pp., ISBN 978-1570752322 .
  • Heribert Bettscheider (ed.): Reflecting Mission, Practicing Mission. Divine Word Missionaries Commenmoraterewsponsive 125 Years of Worldwide Commitment , Vol. I + II, VVII + 767 pp., Studia Instituti Missiologici SVD 76, Steyler Verlag: Nettetal 2001, ISBN 3-8050-0462-1 .
  • Josef Alt SVD: The Roman Settlement of the Steyler Missionaries (1888-2003) , Analecta SVD 86, Romae 2004, 401 pp.

Web links

Commons : Steyler Mission  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Worldwide commitment for a better future. In: steyler.eu. Retrieved October 21, 2020 .
  2. Divine Adoration Sisters elect Sister M. Magdalena Kruse from Dinklage as Superior General , July 12, 2019, accessed on July 10, 2020.
  3. steyler.eu: Lexicon: Province .
  4. steyler.eu: Lexicon: General Superior .
  5. ↑ For the first time, Divine Word missionaries have Superiors General from Indonesia
  6. XVIII GENERAL CHAPTER, 2018 List of Participants and Staff
  7. ^ New superior general of the Society of the Divine Word named, comes from Indonesia
  8. ↑ Divine Word Missionaries - Magazines. Retrieved August 26, 2020 .
  9. steyler.eu: A success story celebrates its birthday. "Rheinwohnungsbau" has been in existence for 75 years, September 14, 2006 , accessed on March 8, 2021.
  10. steyler-mission.de
  11. Sexual abuse
  12. ^ Cases of abuse among Steyler Missionaren tz.de, March 29, 2010
  13. The Sydney Morning Herald: 'You know we are going to kill you': Ex-priest's chilling threat to lawyer , July 14, 2021 , accessed August 8, 2021.
  14. Sydney Morning Herald: The disgraced priest, the children's shelter and a fight for justice in East Timor , June 7, 2021 , accessed August 9, 2021.
  15. A man and the power. Retrieved August 7, 2020 .
  16. spiegel.de: Steyler Mission: Alle rich , January 11, 1982.
  17. Hans Hütt : The black coffers of Helmut Kohl. December 3, 2017, accessed March 13, 2021 .
  18. PICO, children's magazine , accessed on September 9, 2011.
  19. Weite Welt, youth magazine ( Memento from March 10, 2013 in the Internet Archive ), accessed on September 9, 2011.
  20. Live Now - Home - Live Now. Retrieved September 16, 2020 .
  21. stadtgottes, family magazine, accessed on September 8, 2020.
  22. ^ Anthropos , accessed September 9, 2011.
  23. ^ Verbum SVD , accessed on September 9, 2011.
  24. Steyler Mission Chronicle , accessed on September 9, 2011.
  25. ^ The suggestion , accessed on September 9, 2011.