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Archival description
Henri Nouwen fonds
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Listening and Speaking handout for 1984 lecture course

File consists of two photocopied typed pages of summary lecture notes. The lectures are titled "Listening: Being attentive to the active presence of God in our lives" and "Speaking: words born out of silence and returning to silence, bearing fruit in our individual and communal lives". These handouts are labelled 'I' and 'II'.

Small discussion groups administrative file for 1985 lecture course

File consists of administrative documents relating to the organization of small discussion groups for the lecture course. The file includes the original sign-up sheets for students to organize themselves into small groups of 6 to 8 people. There is also a copy of a final list of groups that was distributed to students as a handout. The file also contains a handwritten rough draft for a letter to be sent out to students who had failed to submit their mid-term self-evaluations. The draft is written on Harvard Divinity School letterhead but it is not in Nouwen's hand.

Handout on The Word for 1985 lecture course

File consists of a single page of photocopied typed summary lecture notes. The title of the lecture is "The Word". The handout is dated Tuesday, February 5, 1985 and labelled "Handout #4".

Student response at mid-course for 1985 lecture course

  • CA ON00389 F4-7-1-2209
  • File
  • [between March 19 - April 4, 1985]
  • Part of Henri Nouwen fonds

File consists of one double-sided typed page of questions for students to respond to and submit to Nouwen and his assistants. It is labelled "Handout #35". The mid-course student response contains 5 questions. They are:

  1. Have you been faithful in attendance at the large lecture/discussion meetings, excepting necessary absence of which the staff was advised? What have you found most helpful and how would you describe our unfinished agenda?
  2. Have you been faithful in small group attendance and participation? In what ways has this been most fruitful - and most frustrating?
  3. Have you found a spiritual director or "soul friend" with who you share regularly? How have you grown in this discipline, and/or discovered barriers to growth?
  4. Have you begun to write, to preserve a journal of the Spirit in your life? Are patterns emerging? In what sense is this discipline easy or difficult? Have you decided which person/s will read it?
  5. How is your reading of John's gospel witness to Jesus coming? In what ways has it reinforced or expanded your views about Jesus? What difficulties have arisen?

Handout on fecundity for 1985 lecture course

File consists of two copies of lecture summary notes. The title of the lecture is "Fecundity" and is labelled "Handout #40". One of the copies has been heavily annotated by Nouwen.

Sample letters from Refugee Alert

File consists of two photocopies which were most likely distributed as handouts. These two documents are found filed in between Handout #40 and Handout #41 in the bound volume (see file 2178). These handouts do not contain a label however. They are samples of chain letters which students can send to family and friends and members of Congress.

Letter from Nouwen to students of 1985 summer lecture course

File consists of a three page letter from Nouwen addressed to students from his Boston College summer course. The letter is dated October 7, 1985 and was written from L'Arche Daybreak. In the letter Nouwen reflects on the experiences of the course and also discusses the objectives of L'Arche. Nouwen asks his students to keep the organization in mind when ministering to people in their own communities and asks his students to "help me make it better known". The letter also includes three locations of contact, L'Arche Daybreak, the Maryknoll Residence at Cambridge, MA, and the L'Arche community of Trosly-Breuil in France.

Handouts for twelve-week course on prayer

File consists of a series of typed and photocopied handouts ranging over a twelve week period. These handouts follow a format of guided meditation and in-depth prayer techniques. Each handout contains a written assignment and reading assignment, one of which is Nouwen's "Life of the Beloved". These materials were most likely used as preparation for Nouwen's 1994 course at Regis College.

Administrative records

  • CA ON00389 F4-7-2
  • Subseries
  • 1966 - 1994, predominant 1983 - 1985
  • Part of Henri Nouwen fonds

Sub-series consists of administrative materials relating to activities which Nouwen performed as a university professor within the administrative and social frameworks of the academic setting. This sub-series has been divided into sub-sub-series according to each academic institution, namely:

  1. University of Notre Dame in Notre Dame, Indiana, USA.
  2. Yale Divinity School in New Haven, Connecticut, USA.
  3. Harvard Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.
  4. Boston College, in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, USA.
    and,
  5. Regis College, the University of Toronto, Canada.
    It is highly likely that Nouwen created administrative records while a professor at the Joint Pastoral Institute of Amsterdam and the Catholic Theological Institute of Utrecht between 1968 - 1970. However, these records have not survived.

Department of Psychology faculty calendar and program proposal

File consists of two documents. The first is a six-page typed calendar for Notre Dame's Department of Psychology. This document outlines the faculty of the department, the undergraduate and graduate programs, as well as a list of course descriptions, including course codes and the name of the professor who was teaching the course. Nouwen is listed in this document as an Assistant Professor.
The second document appears to be a copy of a proposal for developing a program of Psychological Training and Psychological Services at the University of Notre Dame. This document mentions that a proposed psychological clinic would provide "the personnel and potentialities for the training of those religious at Notre Dame and elsewhere who have the responsibility of dealing with troubled students." The document also mentions the value of offering summer courses to train religious working as counselors at the university. The author of this document is unknown.

The Catholic Students at Y.D.S.

File consists of two drafts and two typescripts of a reflection by Nouwen on the history of Catholic students at Yale Divinity School. The date of this work is not clear. In addition to the article there are two pages of criticism by people who read and edited the piece. The first page is a typed response by Margaret Farley. The other page contains handwritten responses from two separate people, one being female. The comments are generally negative and challenge Nouwen's interpretation of the Catholic community at Yale.

Harvard University

File consists of documents, forms, receipts and correspondence related to Nouwen's role as a professor affiliated with Harvard University, as opposed to Harvard Divinity School. They include:
-statement of account from Harvard University's General Accounts Receivable dated April 30, 1985
-schedule for Commencement ceremony at Harvard University dated June 7, 1984
-letter from Harvard's General Account Receivable dated May 18, 1984
-invoice from HUSC Customer charges dated 6, March, 1984
-loan receipt from the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University regarding Nouwen's Madonna statue. An annotation by Peter Weiskel states that the statue was returned January 23, 1984
-Harvard University parking form, listing Nouwen's silver Honda. Undated
-information booklet regarding Harvard University's Business Travel Accident Insurance plan for faculty and staff. Undated
-advertisement from Harvard University Employees' Credit Union. Undated
-pamphlet from Harvard University's Tax Deferred Annuity and Investment Program. Undated
-advertisement for seminars on University staff benefits and privileges. Undated.

Job description for office assistant to Nouwen

File consists of three copies of a job description for a position as Nouwen's office assistant. This statement was most likely typed by Peter Weiskel and is dated as April 18, 1985. David LeBlanc is stated as being the current office assistant.

Administrative documents and guidelines from Boston College

File consists of a group of documents mailed to Nouwen in late 1984 regarding his agreement to teach a course at the Boston College Institute of Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry during the summer of 1985. These documents include:
-a letter from Philip J. King, Director of the Institute dated November 20, 1984
-a letter from Dr. Padraic O'Hare, Associate Director of the Institute, also dated November 20, 1984
-A book order form for textbooks and required readings for the course Introduction to Spirituality (also referred to as Introduction to the Spiritual Life) to be taught by Nouwen at Boston College
-one page outlining Boston College's guidelines for testing and evaluation of students
-four pages outlining Boston College's academic policies regarding teaching assistants, grading and testing procedures, photocopying and proper citation
-a form indicating the deadlines for returning various forms to the institution, such as book orders, syllabi and bibliographies.
The original package contained Nouwen's teaching contract with Boston College, but this document has been lost.

Papers from Gymnasium

File consists of two essays handwritten by Nouwen while attending the Gymnasium. Essays include a summary on Gerard Brom, etc., and one entitled, “Salvation is Never Born in Noisiness" (possibly for a religion class or Dutch).

Materials relating to mission work

File consists of materials relating to mission work, including pamphlets and a typescript by J.B. Moeller titled "Missie en Liefde" ["Mission and Love"]. Pamphlets include: several issues of Annalen (no. 688, 687, 686, 685, 684, 683, 682, 681, 679); De Medische Missiezusters; "Rapport 'Missie en technische Bijstand'"; "Centrum Lectuurvoorziening Voor de Missie - Rijsenburg"; "Helpthen bidden"; several issues of S.P.L. (no. 62, 6160, 59, 58); "Inrichting van de Missie Vereniging Sint Franciscus Xaverius Seminarie Rijsenburg"; "Priester-Missiedag"; Brits Kameroen (Nederlands Medisch Missie Comite).

Course notes from class of F.J.J. Buytendijk

File consists of lecture notes for a course taught by F.J.J. Buytendijk, likely titled "Vergelijkende Psychologie" [Comparative Psychology]. The bulk of the notes are on smaller lined paper. The notes on larger paper seem to be a summary of the notes on smaller paper.

Course notes on homosexuality

File consists of materials relating to a course on homosexuality. File includes type and handwritten notes by Henri Nouwen, blank psychological testing forms, and a typed outline with notes titled "Homosexualiteit: van vooroordeel naar orrdeel" [Homosexuality: from prejudice to judgment].

Course notes on existentialism

File consists of notes for a course on existentialism and modern theology. Files includes typed and handwritten course notes and reading notes, handouts, and other materials. Some of the material is dated from the mid-1950s.

Course materials on military and psychiatry

File consists of course materials for a course taught on the military and psychiatry. This materials includes typed hand-outs, Nouwen's handwritten course and reading notes, and sample forms used for diagnosis.

Course notes on pathology

File consists of course materials relating to a course taught by Professor Prick on Pathology from January to February of 1963. This includes course and reading notes in Nouwen's hand. Also included are handouts for the course and diagrams.

Pastoral Supervision in Historical Perspective

File consists of a hard bound copy of the first draft of Nouwen’s "Pastoral Supervision in Historical Perspective", possibly written while at the Menninger Clinic. Typed note on the cover page by Nouwen: "(This study is meant to be a first rough draft. It is not at all ready for circulation. I therefore would appreciate it if you would limit the use of this material to the members of the supervision seminar. I hope you will not let it be read by others. Before it is ready for any further circulation I would like to have it corrected by Doctor Hiltner and Doctor Southard and rewrite parts of it. I hope that you will be so kind as to send me your critical remarks which come out of your discussion and which I can use while rewriting it. Many thanks for your cooperation."

Evaluation of Six Months Clinical Pastoral Training

File consists of a soft bound manuscript by Nouwen entitled, "Evaluation of Six Months Clinical Pastoral Training", as well as typescript portions of the manuscript. This is a reflection on the first two semesters Nouwen spent at the Menninger Clinic. The evaluation took place at Topeka State Hospital.

Theology degree records

Sub-series consists of materials related to Nouwen’s time pursuing his doctoral (doctoraal) degree in Theology at Nijmegen University. It appears as though Nouwen received the degree conferred upon completion of the doctoral exams although his thesis was not accepted. Note of December 18, 2013: file 319 unequivocally suggests that Nouwen pursued a degree in psychology (or to be precise in the Social Sciences) in early 1971. See also file 329, box 290 which contains a more elaborate outline of the thesis in question.

Administrative thesis material

File consists of a blank form to apply for a thesis (with spaces for a title and supervisors); a thesis proposal typed on Prof. Dr. J.J.G. Prick's letterhead including a summary of the paper, but this is likely a draft as there are a few typographical errors; a draft for a doctoral thesis proposal with annotations and corrections by Nouwen; a letter from the Social Sciences Faculty at University of Nijmegen written by the Dean of Faculty, O. Schreuder, which outlines Nouwen's Thesis director (Professor Prick), the title of the thesis (De betekenis van Anton T. Boisen's acute psychose in verband met zijn vraag naar de verhouding tussen geestesziekte en religieuze bekering [The significance of Anton T. Boisen's acute psychosis related to his question about the relationship between mental illness and religious conversion]). The letter goes on to say the thesis defense date has yet to be set, and the committee will consist of Dr. W.J. Berger (Pastoral Psychology), Prof. Dr. K.J.M. van de Loo (Clinical Psychology), and Prof. Dr. F. Haarsma (Pastoral Theologian).
File also includes a letter to Nouwen regarding his request for the appointment of a thesis director for his PhD. They sent him a candidate's guideline for a PhD thesis.

Notes on "Naming the Whirlwind"

File consists of Nouwen's notes on a book by Langdon Gilkey titled "Naming the Whirlwind: The renewal of God language" (published in 1969). Nouwen also refers to the book as "Making the Whirlwind." Nouwen summarizes the book in his notes. Nouwen summarizes Gilkey's writing on Anton T. Boisen, Russell Dicks, Richard Cabot, and Caroll Wise on page 54, and Seward Hiltner and Thomas Klink on page 55 of his notes.

Een Functionele Godsdienstpsychologie

File consists of a hard bound translation of P.W. Pruyser’s "A Dynamic Psychology of Religion" (New York, 1968) by Nouwen and J. Wissink. It is possible that this translation was done in preparation for, or during, Nouwen’s doctoral studies in 1970-1971.

Boisen - Miscellaneous manuscripts and outlines

File consists of copies of manuscripts of articles, speeches and a blank case analysis form from 1934 - 1957. File also contains a copy of an unidentified manuscript, pages 39 to 94, and Boisen's Curriculum Vitae.

Boisen - Articles 1960 – 1961, n.d.

File consists of articles by Anton T. Boisen written between 1960 and 1961, and undated articles, collected by Nouwen at an unknown time. Many of the articles are original printed versions. The articles are arranged chronologically by year of publication.

Boisen – Book reviews

File consists of copies of two book reviews of "The Exploration of the Inner World" by Anton T. Boisen, dated from 1937 and 1938.

Anton T. Boisen

File consists of a copy of a dissertation entitled, "Anton T. Boisen: De ontwikkeling van zijn persoon en werk" by Harry Stroeken, written in 1977. [Translation of thesis title page: Anton Boisen "The development of his person and work", Catholic university of Leuven (Belgium), Faculty of Psychology and Pedagogical Sciences. PhD thesis, Presented to obtain a PhD in Psychology by Harry Stroeken under supervision of Prof. Dr. A Vergote].

School certificates

Sub-series consists of eighteen documents certifying Nouwen's completion of courses, degrees and programmes.

Report cards

File consists of one report card and two honour cards. The report card is for the school year 1948 - 1949 at St. Aloysius College, Nouwen's Gymnasium. This report card includes a certificate of honourable mention from July 1949 in the subjects Religion, Dutch, and Geography. The two honour cards are from the school year of 1944 - 1945 (Nouwen's first year at Gymnasium) for Nouwen having earned first place in his class in a subject. The first card recognizes Nouwen for Latin, and the second card for an unknown subject [Bijbljesch?].

Dispuut “De Toorts”

Item consists of a certificate with the title Dispuut “De Toorts” that is dated March 7, 1956, and given by Corpori Studiosorum Noviomagensium [University of Nijmegen] from a group called Caroli Magni, and the Roland Society. It is likely that this is a certificate from a student society at the University of Nijmegen that is granting Nouwen membership.

Seminary diploma

Item consists of a certificate dated July 21, 1957, that is certifying Nouwen's graduation from the seminary. Certificate is signed by the rector of the Rijsenburg Seminary.

Articles by Nouwen

  • CA ON00389 F4-9-1
  • Subseries
  • 1960 - 1996, predominant 1974, 1976 - 1996
  • Part of Henri Nouwen fonds

Sub-series consists of published articles written by Nouwen between 1960 and 1996. A majority of the articles are dated between 1975 and 1996 probably because in 1975 Nouwen began transferring the articles for storage at Yale. The articles are in various formats including entire periodicals, offprints, clippings, and photocopies as originally saved by Nouwen. Specific publications include Pastoral Psychology, Sojourners, Harvard Divinity Bulletin, Feu et Lumiere, The New Oxford Review, National Catholic Reporter, Weavings, and Zaken die God raken. Articles from church newsletters and other sources with limited publication are also included. In addition to featuring unique writings, the articles also represent published material that has been excerpted, condensed, adapted and reprinted from Nouwen's books, articles, and conference speeches. This sub-series contains only those articles written by Nouwen which he collected and does not contain all of his published articles as is evident by several incomplete article series.
The files are arranged chronologically. Each file features one unique published article although photocopies of newspapers as well as business cards and letters indicating the source of the articles are also included. Each file/article has been described at the item level.

Report on the possibility and desirability of love

This item consists of a two page article by Henri Nouwen entitled: On the possibility and desirability of love, published in The National Catholic Reporter, April 10. 1968, pp. 7-8. Nouwen begins his article by asking if love is possible at all. ‘Is there a spark of misunderstanding in every intimate encounter, a painful experience of separateness in every attempt to unite, a fearful resistance in every act of surrender?’ He then states that he intends to describe what he calls two main forms of existing: 1) a power or ‘taking’ form and 2) a forgiving form. He then finally intends to ask the crucial questions, ‘Is love a utopian dream or a possibility within our reach?’ There are three major headings in the article: 1) The taking form, 2) The forgiving form and 3)The possibility of love. In 1) Nouwen describes the taking form as a form of power. We objectify the other, we try to control, to manipulate vulnerabilities and weaknesses and classify and label others. ‘This leaves us with the suspicion that the reality which we call “love” is nothing other than a blanket to cover the real fact that a man and a woman conquer each other in a long, subtle skirmish of taking movements in which one is always the winner who manipulates the other… we find ourselves doomed to the impossibility of love’. In 2) Nouwen describes the forgiving form as one of trust, openness and vulnerability. He suggests some characteristics of love. Love is truthful, tender and asks for total disarmament. He asks: ‘Can we ever meet a fellow man without any protection? Reveal ourselves to him in our total vulnerability? In 3) The possibility of love, Nouwen attempts to answer these questions. He begins by noting that life is often a very painful fluctuation between the two desires to take and to forgive. ‘And we have good reasons to be afraid. Love means openness, vulnerability and confession.’ Again, Nouwen asks if real love is possible and answers by saying that it is not if ‘the only real and final solution to life is death’. He then points to the person who he suggests has broken through the vicious circle and quotes from the prologue to the Gospel of John which speaks of Jesus breakthrough. ‘Suddenly everything is converted into its opposite. Darkness into light, enslavement into freedom, death into life, taking into giving, destruction into creation and hatred into love’. He concludes by stating that ‘the core of the Christian message is exactly this message of the possibility of transcending the taking form of our human existence.

The death of Dr. King

This item consists of a one page article by Henri Nouwen entitled: The Death of Dr King, published in the National Catholic Reporter, December 18, 1968, p. 4. This article is a subjective reflection by Nouwen on the atmosphere, experience and people he encountered following the death of Dr Martin Luther King Jr. on April 4, 1968. Nouwen uses a number of headings : 1) The News – this begins in Chicago where he first hears of King’s assassination. He describes the muted responses of the people he meets, 'Martin Luther King was dead, killed, assassinated. Everybody knew it but nobody wanted to know it'. 2) The Party – Here Nouwen describes the atmosphere at a party following his talk and notes particularly that most people are avoiding speaking of Dr King’s death. 3) The Cool City – moves on to Topeka, Kansas where Nouwen reflects on the contrast between the ‘slickness and artificiality’ and ‘the madness’. ‘We were killing the prophets…Between the hollow voices of those who tried to advertise their latest product, it became clear that violence was cutting through the thresholds of restraint. Topeka seemed a cool and indifferent city’. 4) In Kansas City Nouwen visits a young man in prison for draft evasion. This young man speaks of the influence of Dr King on his life and the lives of his fellow prisoners and the atmosphere in the prison: ’when they heard that he was dead they doubled the guards. They did not understand that we were just crying, my Afro-American friends and me’. 5) The Cab Driver –this speaks of Nouwen’s decision to change his plans and travel to Atlanta for the funeral. He describes his encounter at the airport with a cab driver who is also going. The cab driver shares with Nouwen: ‘ Dr King just tried to take Christ’s words seriously. He realized he had to follow him all the way. What would happen if we really would do just that?’ The remainder of the article describes the atmosphere in Atlanta: ‘It was a special occasion in which happiness and joy merged with sadness and distress. Perhaps it had never been different for them.’ Nouwen concludes this article by reflecting on his hope despite all the ‘anger, grief and frustration’. ‘I knew that out of my exhaustion a new faith could grow, a faith that it is possible to love’.

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