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German priest is new SVD superior general

08:09 AM July 06, 2012

A 56-year-old German national with extensive missionary and pastoral experience in Cebu was elected 11th Superior General of the Society of the Divine Word (SVD) on July 3 in Rome.

Fr. Heinz Kulueke, SVD, will succeed Fr. Antonio Pernia, SVD, 63, who is stepping down after serving as Superior General for 12 years.

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Fr. Kulueke was chosen to lead the Divine Word Missionaries all over the world by 118 electors who gathered in Rome during the 17th general chapter of SVD from June 17 to July 15.

Fr. Kulueke is the incumbent Provincial Superior of the Philippine Southern Province for three 3-year terms.

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He is now the Superior General of 6,015 SVDs worldwide, and the 10th successor to Saint Arnold Janssen, a German diocesan priest who founded the SVD in 1875, the Missionary Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit (Blue Sisters) in 1889, and the Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit of Perpetual Adoration (Pink Sisters) in 1896.

Kulueke was born on Sept. 29, 1956 in Spelle, Germany. He took undergraduate studies in Philosophy and Theology at Sankt Augustin Mission Seminary in Germany. He acquired the degree Master of Arts in Philosophy from the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC in 1990 and the degree Doctor of Philosophy from the Gregorian University in Rome in 1994.

He held various assignments, such as assistant parish priest at Trento, Agusan del Sur; faculty member, University of San Carlos (USC) Graduate School; House Councillor, USC SVD Community; Rector, USC SVD Community; Provincial Admonitor, Philippine SVD Southern Province; USC Vice President for Academic Affairs; and Vice Provincial Superior, Philippine SVD Southern Province.

Since 1986, Kulueke has been actively involved in development work assisting impoverished farming and fishing villages, people living in garbage dumps, street children and victims of human trafficking exploited in Cebu’s red light districts, as well as in livelihood, housing and advocacy projects, feeding, health and educational programs.

Fr. Kulueke was ordained priest on March 9, 1986 at Sankt Augustin Mission Seminary in Germany. He succeeds Father Pernia who also became Provincial Superior of the Philippine SVD Southern Province prior to his election as Superior General of the congregation in 2000.

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