Series consists of files containing correspondence and other material related to Nouwen's day to day engagements. Nouwen received dozens of invitations each month to give lectures or talks, lead retreats, preside at religious occasions, and provide spiritual direction. Requests came from a wide range of institutions, organisations and individuals, the majority having some sort of religious affiliation. Invitations from institutions included university divinity schools, seminaries, hospital pastoral departments, churches, and Christian retreat centres. Invitations from organisations included the National Catholic AIDS Network, the Ministry of Money, and the Archdiocese of Toronto. Invitations from individuals included requests for Nouwen to preside over masses, weddings, funerals, baptisms and ordinations, and those interested in personal spiritual direction. Such requests often came from priests, ministers, pastors, and chaplains. The majority of Nouwen's engagements took place in the Northeastern United States, Southern Ontario, and Holland. However, he also attended events in Illinois, Texas, California, British Columbia, Quebec, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and the Ukraine. After Nouwen's move to L'Arche Daybreak in 1986, files were created to plan and document special events associated with his role as pastor. There are files regarding community meetings, community weekends, assistant workshops, visits to other L'Arche communities and meetings of the International Federation of L'Arche.
Generally, when an invitation was accepted a file was created and arranged chronologically according to the date of the event. In some cases the file contains material regarding events scheduled in the same city and in the case of 1985 material regarding an entire months schedule. However, typically the files are organised by event/engagement. In addition to the date of the event the title of the file would often include the name of a person or organisation and/or the event and/or the location of the event. A typical file consists of the initial letter of invitation describing the nature of the request, follow-up correspondence to confirm dates and other arrangements, details regarding Nouwen's role at the event, drafts of promotional material, reference material on the organization(s) involved, the event, the issue and the location, and travel documents. In some cases, the file will also contain handwritten or typed notes, copies of outgoing letters, schedules, programs, bulletins, evaluations completed by attendees, thank you letters and cards from the organiser of the events and others, newspaper clippings of the events and/or the published version of his speech or lecture. Outgoing letters only begin to be seen after 1986 and after that they are not consistent. Much of the correspondence after 1986 is further enriched by the annotations of Nouwen and his assistants Connie Ellis (1986-1992) and Kathy Christie (1992-1996) at L'Arche Daybreak. Other members of the community, including Sue Mosteller, Joe Vorstermans, Nathan Ball and Elizabeth Buckley, also contributed to the files.
The files were created between 1980 and 1996, however, the file titles themselves extend to 1998 because events were often scheduled two or more years in advance. There are no files for January 1982 to April 1985. The files from 1985 contain invitations only from March to August grouped by month. There are no files for June 1987 to May 1990. Approximately 74% of the files in the series are for June 1990 to August 1995. Their are only a small number of files for September 1995 to October 1998, this is likely because Nouwen was on sabbatical from September 1995 to September 1996. The files contain gaps and inconsistencies due to Nouwen's frequent movement between 1982 and 1986 as well as changes in Nouwen's support staff and their differing recordkeeping techniques.
This series provides an excellent overview of Nouwen's schedule of events and specific information regarding his participation at those events. Noteworthy are the handwritten and typed notes used for speaking engagements (some are unpublished) as well as copies of outgoing letters written by Nouwen.