June 1st 1937 - Hoffmann Herman
Herman was born on June 23rd 1864 in Elberfeld. His great gift came to light already in his school-days. He was always at the top of his class.
In autumn 1880 he entered, only sixteen years old, in Exaten (the Netherlands) the noviciate of the Society of Jesus. Magister Noviciorum was Father Meschler, whom he admired through all his life, even if he did not agree with him in all points. Hermann was a cheerful Scholastic (student), always involved in jokes, liked by everybody - as a fellow Jesuit from the same class told about him. Latin and Greek were his favourite subjects. Later in Japan he still remembered the classical translations of Father Gietmann. After the Juniorat (language study) in Wynandsrade he came from 1885 to 1889 as Magister (teacher or prefect) to Feldkirch, then for three years to Exaten where he studied philosophy. During the study of theology in Ditton Hall (England) he was ordained priest on June 30th 1895.
After the tertianship in Tisis (Vorarlberg), he lectured from 1902 to 1909 on philosophy. In 1909 he was sent to Munich, and hardly there he got a telegram which sent him to Tokyo. He went back to Valkenburg to prepare himself for Japan. On February 24th 1910 he arrived in Tokyo. Already on October 18th of that year he was appointed Superior of our residence. Now he had the task to attain from the government the permission for a University, and to find a suitable building site. After many difficulties and complications both finally succeeded. Father Hoffmann's natural optimism and his supernatural confidence in God overcame all hurdles. Thus Father Hoffmann is seen as the founder of the Sophia University, which he led for twenty four years up to his death. For sixteen years he was Superior in Tokyo and for five years he held the same office in the Mission Station Hiroshima.
World War I brought the development of our educational establishments in Japan to a standstill. Large damages were caused also by earthquakes (1923). Help from Germany could not be expected, since it was impoverished after World War I. But America lent assistance.
Father Hoffmann was a strong personage with an impressive figure, a gladly seen companion, dignified and reliable-looking, an interesting storyteller, flexibly and everywhere welcome. Of course, he had some peculiarities, like probably all notable personalities. With increasing age he spent much time in the chapel. He said: The holy Mass must be our greatest treasure. He did not think highly of devotional practices, but he venerated St Anthony much. His love for Germany and for the Society of Jesus was unbroken great. If somebody said something negative, he could get very indignant. Towards his subordinates he was generous, and was glad when everyone had her/his joy. He was generous towards distressed people of every kind, and many pupils and students were released by him from their school-fees. Very hospitably he took care of the many visitors from foreign countries. He had a strong physical constitution, was seldom ill, and was contented with being loaded with much labour. His humour held always in store new anecdotes and stories.
Toward the end of his life he was more and more troubled by tiredness. In the hospital he hoped for recovery yet. Up to his death he was in full possession of his mental strength. Without heavy pain and death-struggle he left this temporal life on June 1st 1937 in Tokyo.
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