April 22th 1962 - Bley Bernhard
† in Berlin
He was born on July 17th 1879 in Cloppenburg in the Oldenburger Münsterland. The family Bley had been residing there, as can be proved, for centuries. Bernhard was the oldest of four children. His brother Alfons became also Jesuit. He worked as missionary in Brazil. His sister Agnes became the mother of the three Mauermann Jesuits.
His father Bernhard was merchant and had a dye-works. He was killed in an accident when Bernhard was nine years old. Thus the education of the children was wholly given to his mother Cecilia.
Already during his education on the classical secondary school 'Antoninum' in Vechta the priesthood became his convinced occupational aspiration. The Spiritual Exercises for the Vechta Congregation in the Easter week 1897 in Blyenbeck gave the last impulse for it. There was the Noviciate of the German
Jesuit Province under Magister Father Ernst Thill. Bernhard entered there on April 28th 1897 the Order. Blyenbeck was almost too small to accommodate seventy two Novices. Father Thill (Germaniker), who originated from Volkmarsen in Hesse, was at the age of thirty when Bley began his noviciate.
After the study of philosophy Bley spent four years Interstice in the Aloisius College in Sittard. During the theology in Valkenburg he was ordained priest there on August 28th 1910. The tertianship in Exaten, where Father Thill had just become instructor, followed as conclusion of his formation.
His first destination brought him to 's-Heerenberg (Holland) as Socius of the Magister. But on August 25th 1918 he was already appointed Rector in Sittard. It was not an easy time when Father Bley began his first superiorate. One year after the outbreak of the war the economic situation here became more and more threatening. The incomes were in German money, the expenditures in guldens. Sittard had to take up loans, and had to live on the substance. Easter 1920 the college should close and a new should be built on German soil. The buildings had to be sold. Church and worldly institutions rejected a purchase. But eventually a solution was found: The College should be reconstructed into a Miners' Home for the Limburger mining industry.
Father Bley was replaced as Rector. Again he took over the office of the Socius Magistri, with the intention to destine him as successor of the seventy years old Magister Müller. That happened on February 11th 1920.
But it came differently. On July 4th he received a letter from Rome: his certificate of appointment to the Provincial of the Nether German Province. Bley was totally surprised. None had talked with him about that. Only seventeen days later Father Provincial Ludwig Kösters made himself heard, and asked whether he had received a letter from Rome. Soon it came to a discussion.
Several Jesuits in the Province had expected Father Konstantin Kempf, at that time Rector in Valkenburg, as new Provincial. That had been considered indeed, but because of his heart disease one refrained from him.
When Father Bley took over the lead on September 8th, the Province numbered about 680 members, 343 of them were Fathers, 176 Scholastics, and 161 Brothers. When he left the office the Province had about 180 members more.
Up to the year 1921 the territory of the East German dioceses had belonged to the Galicia Province (Provincial in Krakow). When Father Bley began his office there were only two residences in the German east: in Berlin and Breslau. Individual Jesuits were active however also elsewhere in Silesia and East Prussia. The new Provincial promoted the establishment and enlargement of East German houses.
On December 8th 1927 the East German houses and Litauen could be summarized as 'Pars Orientalis' of the Nether German Province. Already on February 2nd 1931 the East German Province could be established. Father Bley became the first Provincial and remained it until March 1936.
On January 6th 1939 - at that time he worked as theologian spiritual in Valkenburg - he was appointed Apostolic Visitator and Delegate of the 'Trierer Barmherzigen Brüder'.
Nearly nine years later he was destined from Trier to Berlin as Superior of the small Charlottenburg residence Herbart Street. From there he was pastorally active also on burdensome journeys into the Eastern Zone.
In the year 1954 he got again a larger task. He became Rector of the Noviciate house on the Jakobsberg, in the neighbourhood of Bingen. There he stayed up to the abandonment of the house.
On November 9th 1960 he moved to the Ignatius House Berlin. Since 1961 his strength waned. He suffered from heart extension and from heart weakness. Oedemas in his legs made a longer hospitalization necessary. He came to Kladow into the Old Jesuits' Home. There he had more peace and care. Already after a few weeks he died there on Ester day toward evening.
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