Fr. Heinz Kulüke, SVD, the Provincial of the Philippine Southern Province (PHS) was elected the 11th Superior General of the Society of the Divine Word (SVD). His received 98 votes against capitulars Fr. Bob Kisala, SVD (10 votes), Fr. Greg Pinto (4 votes), Fr. Arlindo Dias (3 votes), Fr. Emmanuel Fianu (2 votes) and Fr. Jose de Silva (1 vote).
Born in 1956 in Emsland, Germany. Fr Heinz spent two years in electronics before he joined the Divine Word Missionaries in 1979. He was 22 then. Somehow he was not satisfied with his work. He confessed, “I was very good at it so I earned a lot of money, but it was not fulfilling.”
Joining the Divine Word Missionaries (SVD) changed his life completely. He was ordained in 1986 after completing philosophy and theology. He had a short stay in London to practice English. When he arrived in the Philippines, he immediately studied Cebuano and was assigned in Agusan where he stayed for 2 years doing parish work. After his short stint as professor in the seminary in Davao, he was transferred to University of San Carlos in Cebu on 1989.
He recalled that, “at night I would go out and visit street children who were living on the sidewalks. I saw people looking for food in trash cans and living on the sidewalks and thought that if this is the case there must be many people living on the dump sites. So I just took my motorcycle and followed a dump truck.”
His experience brought him to the dump sites of Cebu and bravely stayed there for a month. There he share their way of life, their livelihood, their food, their struggles, their joys, their pains. “…and also their sickness,” he added with a laugh.
Soon he attracted others into his cause. A day care center was established with the effort of educating children and promoting nutrition as well as on-going formation for their parents. And the rest is history.
He became the Provincial of the Philippine Southern Province of the SVD in 2005. He was re-elected in 2008. In 2011, the members of the province decided that he should continue his mission as Provincial for the third term.
As a Provincial, he is a visionary. He has long term goals for the province which the confreres greatly appreciated. His dedication to also help the poorest of the poor in Cebu inspired so many. He also exercises efficient management in his sustainable projects for justice, peace and integrity of creation. Indeed, he is a gift to the people he served.
It is interesting to note that this is the second time that a Provincial from the Philippine Southern Province got elected as Superior General. In 2000, Fr. Tony Pernia, SVD who was also a PHS Provincial from 1993-1994 was elected to the highest post in the Society of the Divine Word.
Congratulations Fr. Heinz! God bless you in your new role as the great servant of our congregation. You have served the Philippine Southern Province with the heart of Christ. You will be always in my prayers. May the Heart of Jesus live in the hearts of all.