History of Society

St. Arnold Janssen, SVD


Saint Arnold Janssen, a German priest founded the Society of the Divine Word in 1875. He created a missionary training center in Holland. Within four years, he sent the first Divine Word Missionary to China.

In1895 Brother Wendelin Meyer, SVD, was dispatched to the United States. Men began to join him in the Society’s missionary endeavors, and in 1897 they settled on a farm north of Chicago. By 1909, the Society established the first seminary in the United States whose mission was the training of candidates for the priesthood and brotherhood for service in the foreign missions.

Today, the Society of the Divine Word is composed of more than 6,000 men who serve where the gospel has not been preached at all or where a local church is not yet available, in more than 70 countries around the world.

The mission of the Society of the Divine Word is to carry out Christ’s command to preach the Gospel to all nations through pastoral and sacramental ministry, teaching and working among those in need.