The SOCIETY OF THE DIVINE WORD [SVD – Societas verbi Divini] was founded in 1875 by a German priest, Saint Arnold Janssen, to preach the Gospel and live its message with people in other lands. Today Divine Word Missionaries come from all over the world, working together to help the most disadvantaged of God’s children in 80 countries on five continents. From humble beginnings, in the last 145 years, the SVD has grown into one of the largest international missionary congregations in the Catholic Church.
Based on their education and formation, Divine Word Missionary priests and brothers live interculturally with other members of the SVD as well as the poor and neglected. You will find them working with orphaned children in India, victims of HIV-AIDS in Thailand as well as youth groups in inner city Chicago.
We continue live and work by St. Arnold’s belief that, “…to proclaim the Good News is the first and greatest act of love of neighbor.” As priests and brothers, we are men of prayer and faith. Aware that each has been called to a unique vocation, we spread the Word of God where the Gospel has not yet been preached, or where the local church is not yet viable. Our emphasis on interculturalism, education and professional skills enables us to minister throughout the world in a variety of ways: pastoral and sacramental ministries, educational and religious training, evangelization, youth, adult and family services, healthcare, seminary formation, counseling and chaplaincy, care of environment & peace and justice.
In 1889, realizing the need for missionary Sisters, Fr. Arnold co-founded the Missionary Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit (SSpS) with Blessed Mother Maria Helena Stollenwerk and Blessed Mother Josefa Hendrina Stenmanns. In 1896, they co-founded a cloistered congregation, the Missionary Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit of Perpetual Adoration (SSpSAP). Both of these religious orders collaborate, on mission and through dedicated prayer, to the mission of the Society of the Divine Word.