On May 25, Fr. Heiner Wilmer, SCJ, was elected as the 10th superior general of the Priests of the Sacred Heart (Dehonians). He succeeds Fr. José Ornelas Carvalho, who completes his second, six-year term.
Originally from Germany, Fr. Wilmer, 54, has been the provincial superior of the Dehonians’ German Province since 2007. He was ordained in 1987, and professed his first vows with the congregation in 1982.
Prior to his service as provincial superior Fr. Wilmer held a number of positions in education. From 1998 – 2007 he was headmaster of Gymnasium Leoninum in Handrup, Germany. Before that, he spent a year teaching German and history at the Jesuit’s Fordham Preparatory School in New York (USA).
From 1995 – 1997 he served at Liebfrauenschulem, a school in Vechta, northern Germany, as a teacher of religion, history and politics, as well as a school chaplain.
Fr. Wilmer has also taken part in several social initiatives with the poor and disenfranchised. In 2006 he spent three months in Caracas, Venezuela, doing catechesis among the city’s barrios. From 1996 – 1997 he worked to develop a training initiative for women at a penitentiary in Vechta (Germany).
During his year teaching in New York he served in the Jesuits’ soup kitchen. And in 1993 he spent four months in Toronto, Canada, serving as a chaplain at “L’Arche Daybreak,” a residential home for people with disabilities.
His studies have included French Philosophy at Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, and Fundamental Theology at the University of Freiburg, where he earned his doctorate. The title of his thesis: “Mystik zwischen Tun und Denken. Zum Ort der Mystik in der Philosophie Maurice Blondels” [Mysticism between doing and thinking. The place of mysticism in the philosophy of Maurice Blondel]
Fr. Wilmer is also an author with several published works.
His election took place during the General Chapter of the Priests of the Sacred Heart in Rome. The event brings together Dehonian priests and brothers representing 40 countries on five continents. In the next few days the chapter delegates will complete the election of the five-member General Council.
Fr. Stephen Huffstetter, Fr. Ed Kilianski and Fr. Duy Nguyen are representing the U.S. Province. Fr. Bill Marrevee and Fr. Claude Bédard represent the Canadian Region.
The chapter concludes on Saturday, June 6.