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Arnold Janssen

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Founder and first superior-general of the Society of the Divine Word, b. at Goch in the Rhine Province, Germany, 5 Nov., 1837; d. at Steyl, Holland, 15 Jan., 1909. At a very tender age he manifested an inclination for the priesthood. After completing his Classical studies at the diocesan college of Gaesdonck in the northern Rhine Province, he took up the study of philosophy at the Academy of Munster, and then entered the University of Bonn . Having completed his theological studies at Bonn and at Munster, he was ordained, 15 Aug., 1861. He devoted some years to pastoral work and the teaching of Christian doctrine, in 1873 becoming chaplain and director at the Ursuline convent of Kempen. As diocesan president of the Apostleship of Prayer he laboured for the propagation of that association, and in this capacity felt called to found a missionary centre for Germany. The result was the establishment of the Mission House of St. Michael at Steyl, Holland, 8 Sept., 1875. Out of this grew the Society of the Divine Word, which received canonical approbation in 1901. The congregation now has flourishing missions in all parts of the world, and, besides that at Steyl, has four mission houses in Germany and Austria and two in the United States. The institution at Techny, Ill., called St. Mary's Mission House, was opened 2 Feb., 1909, and was followed by another mission house, opened September, 1912, at Girard, Pa., the object of both institutions is to educate priests for the heathen missions in charge of the society. The spirit of the founder lives also in the many educational institutions conducted by the members of the Society of the Divine Word . In conjunction with his missionary work Father Janssen in 1889 founded the congregation of the Servant Sisters of the Holy Ghost, who assist the priests in their missionary undertakings. This congregation numbers some 600 sisters, who have a home for the aged at Techny, Ill. In 1912 Father Janssen's society numbered 625 priests, 1250 students for the priesthood, and 800 lay brothers.

[ Note: Arnold Janssen was beatified by Pope Paul VI in 1975.]

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