Saturday, November 18, 2006

Father Benno G. Kornely, S.J., 1928-2006.

Jesuit Father Benno Kornely, a longtime retreat leader and spiritual director, passed away yesterday afternoon at Colombiere. A Jesuit for sixty years and a priest for forty-seven, Benno died a few weeks short of his 78th birthday. After spending most of his early years in the Society working in Jesuit high schools, Benno devoted the last three decades of his life to retreat work. He served at a number of Jesuit spiritual centers in the Midwest, including the Jesuit Retreat House in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, the Colombiere Center in Clarkston, Michigan, the Jesuit Retreat House of Cleveland, the Milford Spiritual Center near Cincinnati and Manresa Jesuit Retreat House in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. I met Benno at a gathering of Detroit-area Jesuits shortly after I entered the Society, and I was immediately struck by his friendly, generous and gentle manner. A few weeks later, I had the chance to interview Benno as part of an assignment for a novitiate class on the vows. On a busy day during which he had to attend several meetings and prepare for others, Benno set aside an hour or so to meet with me to share some thoughts on his life in the Society and his experience of the vows. During that conversation, I found Benno to be a deeply insightful and spiritually astute man, one who was generous enough to set aside many other responsibilities to meet with a first-year novice and humble enough to thank me afterward for giving him an opportunity for reflection.

I don't remember much of what Benno said during our interview a couple years ago, but I remain grateful for his generosity and his good example. Benno remained in residence at Manresa Jesuit Retreat House for most of my time as a novice, and whenever I found myself at Manresa for a retreat or a Jesuit gathering I would usually stop by his office to say hello. During my second year in the novitiate, ill health forced Benno to move to the Jesuit infirmary at Colombiere. By then, I was away from Detroit - first in Chicago and then in Lima - and thus I never got the chance to visit with Benno once more before I took vows. Though I regret I never had the chance to say goodbye to Benno Kornely, I take comfort in the thought that he is now among the great company of departed Jesuits who continue to pray for the Church and the Society in heaven. Requiescat in Pace. AMDG.


At 11/18/2006 10:31 PM, Blogger Lisa said...

Be assured he now knows all you want him to know.

May he rest in peace!

At 11/19/2006 5:56 PM, Blogger Steve Bogner said...

Fr Benno was at many of the retreats my wife and I took at Milford; he was a great man; we both thought highly of him.

At 11/26/2006 2:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fr Benno gave me a bear hug that touched my very spirit and rekindled the depths of my quest for Christ. I shall never forget the warmth of this man of God that touched so many of our lives at Manresa. Bobbyd

At 11/26/2006 2:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"We have been looking for the burning bush, the parting of the sea, the bellowing voice from heaven. Instead we should be looking at the ordinary day-to-day events in our lives for evidence of the miraculous". This is Fr. Benno. We shall never forget him at our daily mass at Manresa.


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