St. Peter Canisius, a Dutchman known as the second apostle of Germany, was a 16th century Jesuit in the forefront of the effort to respond to the critiques of the Catholic church being made by protestant reformers in Germany, Switzerland and other parts of Europe. His pastoral strategies were built on the Jesuit idea of trying to see the good in the ideas and opinions of one’s interlocutor. He felt clarification of the church’s teaching was more helpful than decrying the ideas of the Lutherans and others. The three catechisms he published left a lasting imprint on the religious formation of many, many people of his times. He was one of the most respected and influential churchmen of his age, advising Emperors and Kings. He started many Jesuit Colleges and traveled tirelessly preaching and teaching.
As a Jesuit, I love the observation of how Peter Canisius served his Jesuit brothers as their superior. In that role, it was said, he saw in, and drew forth from, the men qualities and talents that existed at first only in his own graced imagination.