July 19, 2019

Father Bonaventure Lüthen

Bernhard Lüthen was born in Paderborn, Germany on May 5, 1846. His brother, Charles, became a priest and this inspired him to do the same. He was ordained as a diocesan priest on March 15, 1872. He soon founded the first Association of Catholic Mothers in the Diocese of Paderborn. To aid this new ministry, he began a magazine called Monika. His literary talents were quickly noticed and he was invited to become editor of the Ambrosius, a magazine for priests involved in education and in the direction of groups of laity.

In the Spring of 1881, Father Bernard met Father Francis Jordan and became fascinated by his ideas for founding a new religious society which would unite groups of priests and laity in spreading and defending the Catholic Faith. He wrote a pamphlet based on Jordan’s work and became editor of Der Missionär, one of the magazines of the new Society.

Along with Father Jordan, he professed private vows as a member of the First Degree of the Apostolic Teaching Society on December 8, 1881, in the chapel of St. Brigida in Rome. (This ground would later to become the Society of the Divine Savior.) In 1883, he received the habit from Father Jordan and took the religious name Bonaventura.

Father Bonaventure was the first and most important of Father Jordan’s early collaborators and he has come to be known as "the Eldest Son." The new Society needed to make itself and its program better known and, with his skills as a writer and editor ,he was just the right man for this task. In those early years he travelled extensively throughout the German speaking countries seeking lay collaborators, benefactors, and subscribers for the magazines of the Society.

After some time, it became clear that one of the most important tasks was the education of young aspirants to the priesthood who were coming to Rome to join the Society in large numbers. In 1884, Lüthen returned to Rome and, while continuing his work as an editor, he became Prefect of Candidates and Novicemaster. He was eventually able to hand these tasks over to others, as he was more and more needed as the trusted representative of the Founder. He wrote a vast number of letters and instructions on behalf of Father Jordan, who knew that he could absolutely rely on Father Bonaventure's judgment. Until his death on December 10, 1911, he remained Jordan’s closest collaborator and advisor.

Father Bonaventure Lüthen was considered by all his confreres to be a wise and holy man and he was revered for his "goodness and kindeness." As the first disciple and the "pen" of the Founder, he made a crucial contribution to the administration and expansion of the fledgling Society and to the fulfillment of its task of making the Savior more widely known and loved. The cause for the beatification of Father Lüthen was introduced in 1943.

In 2019, Jordan Ministry Team will begin a new lecture series named for Father Lüthen. To learn more, click here.