Background: RENEW International's Work in the Netherlands

In 2001 after reading Small Christian Communities: A Vision of Hope for the 21st Century, Bishop Everard De Jong of the Diocese of Roermond, The Netherlands, invited RENEW International to visit his diocese. By 2004, the parishes of Echt were firmly rooted in RENEW: Spiritual Renewal for the 21st Century. Having completed RENEW for the 21st Century in late 2006, Fr. Rainer Kanke, pastor of these parishes took it upon himself to begin the translation of Why Catholic? into Dutch and by Lent of 2007, his small communities were sharing faith on the Catechism using Book 1, The Profession of Faith.

RENEW Attends 5th National Pastoral Congress
on Small Christian Communities in The Netherlands

Bishop Everard de Jong extended an invitation to Sr. Maureen Colleary, FSP to speak at the Bishop’s Conference’s 5th National Pastoral Congress, this one entitled Small Christian Communities--Gift for the Parishes from March 2-4, 2008. The conference was held at the Emmaus House in Helviort, The Netherlands.

Bishop de Jong opened the Congress with a talk on the history of SCC’s. He gave credit to RENEW International for providing the first “hook”” for him when he read RENEW's Small Christian Communities: A Vision of Hope for the 21st Century back in 2001. He then contacted RENEW and Sr. Maureen made the first of many trips to keep open the conversation about small communities in Holland.

There were 150 participants at the Congress, almost all were priests and lay pastoral workers. The talks covered such topics as the theology and ecclesiology of SCC’s and an afternoon of workshops were provided on the many kinds of SCC’s already existing in Holland.

Sr. Maureen’s talk was focused on RENEW and its history. The talk, done in concert with a translator, also shared the vision of a community of many communities; some good news stories of small communities; and a description of the role of the pastor in getting the process off the ground. Fr. Rainer Kanke, pastor of the Echt Parish, followed Sr. Maureen and spoke about how RENEW has worked in his parish for the past four years. Fr. Rainer is now translating Why Catholic? into Dutch and piloting it in his parish.

The Dutch Church is a challenging one and small communities may well be the answer as to how to re-engage the faithful who have slipped well into the predominantly secular society.

Photos courtesy of Kees Slijkerman

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About RENEW International
RENEW International is a canonically-recognized Catholic organization based in Plainfield, NJ, in the Archdiocese of Newark. RENEW International fosters spiritual renewal in the Catholic tradition by empowering individuals and communities to encounter God in everyday life, deepen and share faith, and connect faith with action.

Since 1980, RENEW International has revitalized parish life in over 150 dioceses in the United States, touching the lives of 25 million people through its renewal processes. RENEW International also reaches many thousands outside the United States, having served people in 23 countries, across six continents and in 44 languages.