Per Bjorn Halvorsen


Died April 1, 2007

College: Calhoun

Per Bjorn was born in Overhalla in Namdal in northern Norway (150 miles south of the Arctic Circle). His parents were Hilda and Kaare Halvorsen, a line foreman with Norwegian State Railways.

While at Yale, Per Bjorn converted from the Lutheran Church to Roman Catholicism.

After graduating as a scholarship student, Per Bjorn returned to Norway to do his compulsory military service. He then served in the Norwegian UN contingent to the Congo (Kinshasa) in order to repay his student loans before becoming a Dominican novice in 1963. He served his seven-year novitiate at the Dominicans’ theological high school Le Saulchoir in France.

In 1970, Per Bjorn was ordained a priest at the Cloister of St. Dominikus in Oslo where he remained the rest of his life. In addition to his monastic duties, Pater Halvorsen faithfully served the Catholic community in Oslo, taught religious history at the University in Oslo, and conducted numerous courses in theology and church history for the broad public. He spoke not only to feelings, but to the whole person, to reason and to responsibility.

In addition to the University in Oslo, Yale and Le Saulchoir, Per Bjorn studied at the Sorbonne and at L’É́́cole Pratique des Hautes Études in Paris.

His first book, “Jesu nattverd”, was published in 1989. He contributed to encyclopedias and religious history handbooks. He was not only a theologian, but also a historian, and his study of St. Dominic, “Dominikus – En europeers liv paa 1200-tallet”, was published in 2002, and is translated into French. When his collection of sermons, “Kjenn din verdighet – En Dominikaners prekener” was published in 2005, he was already seriously ill.

Not only the Catholic Church, but also all of Norwegian Christianity, has lost a deeply learned and engaging preacher and theologian, but above all else a fellow being who will be sincerely missed.

—by Stan Burkey