Fr Renzo De Luca SJ has been appointed Provincial of the Japan Province of the Society of Jesus. He succeeds Fr Yoshio Kajiyama SJ, and assumes office on March 1. An Argentinian by birth, Fr De Luca enters into his work as provincial with a long history of engagement not only with the Japan Province and in the context of its origins dating back to St Francis Xavier, but also with the concrete issues facing the Society around the world today.
Fr De Luca was born in Larroque, Entre Rios, Argentina on July 28, 1963 and was baptised the following day. His father is an Italian immigrant and his mother was born in Argentina of Italian parents. Blessed with the combined DNA of his gaucho father and schoolmistress mother, it is said that Fr De Luca can erect a fence to keep the cows from crossing into neighbouring territory and decipher 16th and 17th-century documents pertaining to his research work in Nagasaki.
He entered the Society of Jesus in San Miguel, Buenos Aires on February 10, 1981, soon after graduating from secondary school. During the juniorate stage of his formation, his superior was none other than Fr Jorge Bergoglio. Fr De Luca was missioned to Japan in 1985, where he mastered the Japanese language sufficiently to do his philosophy studies in Tokyo. During this time, he hosted Fr Bergoglio when he visited the Argentinian scholastics in Japan in 1987.
Fr De Luca did his regency in the Jesuit high school in Kobe before continuing to his theology studies in Tokyo. He was ordained to the priesthood on September 21, 1996 in St Ignatius Church, Tokyo, and the next year received his Licentiate in Sacred Theology from Sophia University finishing summa cum laude. Immediately after that, he was assigned to the Nagasaki residence and museum.
He did his tertianship in Manila, before beginning a career in the history of Christianity in Japan. He returned to school, spending two years as a graduate student of Japanese history at Kyushu University. He also assisted and understudied Fr Diego R Yuki SJ as Curator of the museum dedicated to the 26 Martyrs of 1597, among who are the Jesuit saints Paul Miki, John of Goto and James Kisai. The chapel attached to the museum has been designated as an official pilgrimage site by the Japan Bishops’ Conference. Fr De Luca redesigned the layout of the museum and provides visitors with valuable insights from his great store of knowledge.
He was Superior of the Nagasaki community from 2001 to 2007 and in 2014 was appointed Superior of the combined Fukuoka-Nagasaki community. He has been a province Consultor since 2009, and was elected province delegate to the 35th General Congregation in 2008 and to the Procurators Congregation in Nairobi in 2012. As chairman of the Committee for Ministry Priorities from 2011 to 2016, Fr De Luca led the preparation of a document discerning province priorities. He has been Curator of the 26 Martyrs Museum in Nagasaki since October 2004, after serving as Assistant Curator for seven years.