Scholar, catechist; b. Tyrol, Austria, March 21, 1905; d. New Orleans, La., Feb. 14, 1984. At age 11 Hofinger entered the minor seminary in Salzburg. He studied philosophy at the Gregorian University in Rome, entered the Society of Jesus on Sept. 7, 1925, studied theology under Josef A. jungmann, SJ in Innsbruck, and in 1937 completed his doctoral dissertation on the history of the catechism in Austria and Germany from the time of St. Peter Canisius. In that year he went to China and taught in a regional seminary at Kinghsien. There he produced his second book, in Latin and Chinese, Our Good News (1946). In 1949 he went with the seminarians to Manila, where he continued to teach until 1958.
Hofinger's major contribution was to reform the Church's methods in catechesis and religious education; he called for adopting insights from the Biblical and liturgical movements and from cultural anthropology. In addition to writing several books and many articles, he founded influential periodicals: "Good Tidings" (1962) and "Teaching All Nations" (1964). These merged into the "East Asian Pastoral Review" (1979).
From 1953 to 1970 he circled the globe 16 times, lecturing on the "kerygmatic approach," proclaiming the good news of salvation history which reached its climax in Jesus Christ, and stressing God's loving gift of self and the invitation to respond.
He organized a series of international congresses in Nijmegen (1959), Eichstätt (1960), Bangkok (1962), Katigondo (1964), Manila (1967), Medellin (1968), and San Antonio (1969), bringing together Biblical, liturgical, and catechetical experts from every continent. These meetings influenced the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, the Decree on Missionary Activity of the Church, and the Declaration on the Relationship of the Church to Non-Christian Religions at the Second Vatican Council. They also prepared the way for the International Catechetical Congress in Rome in 1971 and contributed to the Synods of Bishops on Evangelization (1974) and Catechesis (1977) and to the resulting Apostolic Exhortations of Paul VI, Evangelii nuntiandi (1975) and john paul ii, Catechesi tradendae (1979).
Hofinger was a prolific writer. Among his major works are the following: Nuntius Noster seu Themata Predicationis Nostrae (Tientsin 1964); Der priesterlose Gemeindegottesdienst in den Missionen, with J. Kellner (Schöneck 1956); The Art of Teaching Christian Doctrine (South Bend 1957); Liturgische Erneurung in der Weltmission, with J. Kellner (Innsbruck 1957); Worship: the Life of the Missions, (Notre Dame 1958); The ABC's of Modern Catechetics, with W. J. Reedy (New York 1964); The Good News and its Proclamation, with F. J. Buckley (Notre Dame 1968); Our Message is Christ: the More Outstanding Elements of the Christian Message (Notre Dame 1974); Evangelization and Catechesis: Are We Really Proclaiming the Gospel? (New York 1976); You Are My Witnesses: Spirituality for Religion Teachers (Huntington 1977); Pastoral Life in the Power of the Spirit (New York 1982).
A man of tremendous energy and zealous enthusiasm, in 1963 he organized in Manila the East Asian Pastoral Institute, which became a center for inculturation. He briefly taught at the Fiji Islands in Oceania. Then at age 66, in spite of failing eyesight, he learned Spanish to be able to bring the "good news" to Latin America, where he lectured, taught, and wrote. In his final years he was active in the charismatic movement, integrating that with catechetics, especially in its Biblical basis. Eventually he became Associate Director at the Archdiocesan Office of Religious Education in New Orleans. He died the day before he would have become a naturalized citizen of the United States.
Bibliography: a. maria de la cruz, "Johannes Hofinger Remembered: 1905–1984," The Living Light 20 (June 1984) 345–347. f. j. buckley, et al., "Panel Honors Pioneering Catholic Educator," Religious Education Association Clearing House 12 (Spring 1982) 3–6. f. x. clark, "Johannes Hofinger, S.J., (1905–1984). Life and Bibliography." East Asian Pastoral Review 21 (2 1984) 103–120. a. m. nebreda, "Johannes Hofinger: Catalyst and Pioneer," ibid., 120–127. r. r. ekstrom, "He is Much Missed," Catechist 18 (Feb. 1985) 56.
[f. j. buckley]