November 2nd 1971 - Schurhammer George Otto
Father Schurhammer was an authority as historian of the far east, and particularly familiar with Francis Xaver's life and work. George Otto was born on September 25th 1882 in Unterglottertal, near Freiburg. On September 30th 1903 he entered in Feldkirch the Society of Jesus. Already shortly after his entering he volunteered for the mission in India. In 1908 he was destined for Bombay. As a teacher he met with many religions and nations. That early contact with people of other religions and races, languages and cultures widened his horizon. After four years of engaged work he came close to a nervous breakdown. On advice of his physicians he returned to his homeland. At that time he promised God: 'If I should recover again and get the ordination, I will write a large Xaver biography.' During his theological studies in Valkenburg he was ordained priest on August 2nd 1914. From 1916 on he was a permanent co-worker of the magazine 'Katholische Missionen' in Bonn.
In 1925 he was invited by Father General Ledóchowski to Rome to take part in a mission congress. There he made a large contribution, by convincing the missionary experts that a thorough acquisition of language and culture are essential for the work in the missions. From then on the future missionaries were already after the noviciate, at the earliest possible opportunity, sent into the mission. In the year 1932 Father Schurhammer was by Father General Ledochowski called for the second time to Rome, now however to stay there and to dedicate himself to Francis Xaver's life.
In 1952 he travelled as personal representative of the General, on occasion of the 400 anniversary of Xaver's death, to Goa and Xaver's grave. In 1956/57 he traveled on Xaver's traces to Japan and India. The first volume of his Xaver biography had appeared yet before. Then, eight years later the first part of the second volume was published.
In 1962, on the occasion of his eightieth birthday, many essays about him appeared. He got the Federal Distinguished Service Cross and the University of Freiburg gave him the honorary doctor. The many acknowledgments of his life's work filled his heart with gratitude.
[back to Otto Syre's SJ-Calendar]