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University of St. Michael's College, John M. Kelly Library, Special Collections
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Nouwen Video Collection

Series consists of video recordings of Nouwen received after his death. This includes recordings of Nouwen used for television; home videos; and interviews.

Oral History Project

Series consists of materials from the 'Completing the Vision: The Oral History of Henri Nouwen' project that was undertaken by Sister Sue Mosteller, Executrix of the Henri Nouwen Literary Centre in partnership with the Henri Nouwen Society and The Henri Nouwen Archives and Research Collection. The project was funded by grants from the Louisville Institution, the Nouwen Society and gifts in kind. The project intended to capture the personal and intimate nature of Nouwen's life and works by interviewing people from Nouwen's extensive network of intellectuals, clerics, lay ministers and ordinary citizens including those from all socio-economic backgrounds, cultures, faiths and traditions who were influenced by Nouwen or influenced him. The interviews were meant to paint a multi-coloured canvas of Nouwen in his many roles and give us a perspective not available in his own writings. Further, the project was a contribution to the ongoing study of religious experience in the 20th century. The project had three specific goals:

  • Fill in historically significant gaps in the present record of Nouwen's life
  • Gain an understanding of why and how a man of such enormous contradictions touched the lives of so many people and drew criticisms of others
  • To give an opportunity for the wide variety of people who were impacted by Nouwen and who in turn contributed to his theological and pastoral vision to give expression to their experience and understanding

From these goals it is hoped this project would act as a resource for contemporary ministry and be an inspiration for ministers, teachers and lay people alike. Further, the project would compliment the writings of Henri Nouwen and the dozen or so newly published books that have explored his legacy since his death.

The interviews conducted for this project relate to four specific periods in Nouwen's life:

  • Early Seminary/University Years 1951-1964
  • Menniger and Notre Dame Years 1964-1967
  • Yale and Harvard Years 1971-1985
  • Final ten years at L'Arche Daybreak 1986-1987

The interviewees range in age, occupation and geographic location but all had a significant relationship with Nouwen at some point in his life. The methodology of the project involved asking each interviewee to spend 30-40 minutes of their interview naming the influences that formed them, their primary relationships, their mission/profession and how their life crossed with Nouwen's.

Over a 24 month period, 93 interviews were conducted, each averaging two hours in length, providing more than 180 hours of multi-textured content regarding Nouwen's theological vision and its impact. The interviewees also recount events of their personal lives and other significant influences unrelated to their relationship with Nouwen. The interviews took place all over North and South America, Europe and Asia and were documented in audio and/or video format. Some of the interviews have been transcribed and a hard copy and/or electronic copy of the transcription are available. Most the interviews and transcriptions are available in English while some are only available in Dutch.

Henri Nouwen Society

Material about Nouwen

Series consists of material about Nouwen including material about Nouwen's life, works, and death. This material includes newspaper articles; journal articles; interviews of Nouwen; essays; notes from Nouwen's sermons and lectures; books and book reviews; letters; newsletters; and cards. While some materials on Nouwen's life and works was written before Nouwen's death, the majority of the material is dated after his death in 1996. Much of the material in the series pertaining to Nouwen's death was written by friends of Nouwen, who write about his friendship, his writing, and support.

The series is divided into the following subseries:

  1. Works about Nouwen
  2. Interviews with Nouwen
  3. Notes from Nouwen's talks
  4. Obituaries and tributes
  5. Reviews
  6. Newsletters
  7. Materials mentioning Nouwen

Material by Nouwen

Series consists of materials by Nouwen that was collected after his death. Series includes journal articles; transcripts of Nouwen's talks, homilies, and presentations; interviews; and manuscripts.

The series is divided in the following subseries:

  1. Works by Nouwen
  2. Transcripts of Nouwen's talks
  3. Excerpts and compilations of Nouwen's work

Works about Nouwen

Subseries consists of material written and presented about Nouwen's life and works. This material includes newspaper articles, interviews of Nouwen, essays, and books. While some of this material was written before Nouwen's death, the majority of the material is dated after his death in 1996.

Spiritual soup for the teenager's soul

File consists of a manuscript for a book written by Jim Dean entitled "Spiritual Soup for the Teenager's Soul." The book is based on the writings of Nouwen. The book was created as a project for Michael J. Christiansen at Drew University.

Book reviews from The Evangelist

File consists of two book reviews from The Evangelist for his books "Can you Drink The Cup?" and "The Inner Voice of Love". The reviews are titled the following:

  • Nouwen's meditations make 'profound little book' by Christopher DeGiovine
  • Nouwen's finale a personal piece by Mary Kenny

Silent serenity contains the answer to our spiritual questions

File consists of an article by Jan Jarboe Russell. Russell writes about pedophilia and the Catholic Church, specifically the Church's practice of linking homosexuality with pedophilia. She uses insights gleaned from her personal experience of Nouwen as a teacher to argue that at the root of problem is not homosexuality but leaders of the church who are not practicing "active listening" and other aspects of contemplative Christianity. Article was published in the San Antonio Express-News.

Adieu Henri

File consists of an article by Claude Pomerleau about his friendship with Nouwen. Article was published in Portland, The University of Portland Magazine, Autumn 2004, vo. 23, no. 3, p. 10.

Passion: Adam and Nouwen find themselves on the way

File consists of a fax copy of a paper written by Jarrett Moran for a high school Christology class in Medford, Oregon. Includes fax letter by the teacher to the Henri Nouwen Literary Centre and Maureen Wright's response.

Even after his death, a priest stirs many denominations

File consists of a photocopy of a newspaper article by Jim Remsen about Nouwen and the work being carried out by Wendy Greer, Carl MacMillan and others to further his legacy. Includes Greer's summary of Nouwen's life and work. Article was published in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Sunday April 21, 2002.

Palmer, Parker

File consist of an email from Maureen Wright to Parker Palmer asking for permission to circulate copies of his article “All the Way Down: Depression and the Spiritual Journey” from the September/October 1998 issue of Weavings. File includes photocopies of the article; other writings by Parker Palmer including articles and annotated excerpts; flyers for events with Palmer; and Palmer's resume.


Series consists of photographs received after Nouwen's death. These include black and white and colour photographic negatives, prints, albums, and slides.

Henri Nouwen Literary Trust and Society publishing and promotional photographs

File consists of photographs used for in Henri Nouwen related books and promotional content. Photographs in the file were separated into the following three folders based on their usage:

1) Photographs used by Beth Porter in Befriending Life
Photographs used by Beth Porter in her anthology Befriending Life: Encounters with Henri Nouwen. In the photographs Nouwen appears alone and with others including Yushi Nomura; Jack Stroh; Cameron and Dylan Humphreys; Thelus George; and Sue Mosteller. February 1977 - Vol. 5

2) Photographs used to promote Bread for the Journey
Photographs and negatives used by the Henri Nouwen Literary Centre to promote Bread for the Journey on the Nouwen Society website. Henri Nouwen and various people, including Sue Mosteller, Mary Carney, Yushi Nomura, Bill Van Buren other members of L’Arche Daybreak appear in the photos.

3) Photographs lent to Michael Ford for use in Wounded Prophet
File consists of photographs lent to Michael Ford for use in Wounded Prophet. The majority of the photos were taken during Henri Nouwen’s 1993 trip to the Ukraine. Nouwen is seen leading a retreat; meeting with Ukrainian community members; signing books; and visiting various unidentified locations. Travel companions Nathan Ball and Borys Gudziak appear in several of the photos. Also included is a photo of Nouwen, wearing a tan sweater over a white shirt, talking to someone off camera and gesturing with his right hand.

Personal papers and official documents

Sub-series consists of personal papers collected by Nouwen over his lifetime for sentimental reasons including mementos, ephemera, and materials relating to his childhood, career and his friends. Sub-series also consists of official papers kept for legal, insurance and professional reasons, including immigration papers, personal identification cards, wills, and royalties.

Certificate of registration to perform marriages

File consists of Nouwen’s Certificate of Registration from the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations authorizing him to legally perform marriages in the Province of Ontario; including material relating to the Marriage Act of the Government of Ontario.

Curriculum vitae

File consists of Nouwen’s curriculum vitae from 1983 and 1986.

Curriculum vitae

File consists of Nouwen’s curriculum vitae from 1976 to 1982, including lists of his published works.

Ordination material

File consists of material from Nouwen’s ordination ceremony on July 21, 1957 in Utrecht and on July 28, 1957 in Scheveningen, including reminder cards, dinner menu and a copy of the photograph of Nouwen as a child playing priest.

Distribution card

File consists of a distribution card issued to Nouwen. This card identified Nouwen and indicated what resources he received following the Second World War.

Henri Nouwen fonds

  • CA ON00389 F4
  • collection
  • 1910 - 1997, 1964 - 1996 predominant

Fonds consists of 15 series:

  1. Manuscripts
  2. General files
  3. Calendar files
  4. Personal records
  5. Publisher files
  6. Financial files
  7. Teaching materials
  8. Nouwen’s education records and study notes
  9. Published works
  10. Video recordings of Nouwen
  11. Sound recordings
  12. Collected materials
  13. L'Arche Daybreak administrative files
  14. Ephemera and artifacts
  15. Photographs

Nouwen, Henri J.M.

Excerpts and compilations of Nouwen's work

Subseries consists of excerpts and compilations of Nouwen's work published in various formats including standalone newspaper quotes; books; as reading and meditation guides; excerpts in journals and articles; broadsides; and as part of bound collections for course materials.

Henri Nouwen Literary Trust and Henri Nouwen Society administrative files

Subseries consists of files relating to the administrative business of the Henri Nouwen Literary Trust and the Canadian branch of the Henri Nouwen Society including correspondence, reference material and newsletters. Due to the overlapping administrative support of the Henri Nouwen Literary Trust and the Canadian and American branches of the Henri Nouwen Society, records pertaining to the operation of these entities are not uncommon. Unless otherwise noted references to the Henri Nouwen Society can be understood as encompassing both the Canadian and American branches of the organization.

Topics in this series include: the selection and repackaging of Nouwen’s writing and talks for new publications; the establishment of the Nouwen Archives at the University of St. Michael’s College in Toronto, Ontario; Nouwen related articles, book reviews and events; copyright, distribution and usage permissions related to Nouwen’s work; the financial support of Nouwen related projects; legal agreements and paperwork pertaining to the management and settlement of the Nouwen Estate; the translation of Nouwen’s work; requests for materials or financial donations; and Nouwen's funerals. Included is documentation regarding the addition to Dayspring; the production and development of Journey of the Heart: the Life of Henri Nouwen; the development of books by Michael O’Laughlin, Michael J. Christensen and Rebecca Laird; reporting and budgeting information for the Oral History Project; and the permissions associated with Nouwen’s appearance on the Hour of Power at the Crystal Cathedral in 1992.

Video recording of a day with Henri Nouwen

File consists of a video recording of Henri Nouwen speaking on the subject of "Being Big and Small". Nouwen gives a brief autobiography at the beginning of the tape. Alan Steers, David Harmon, and David Grey (members of L'Arche Daybreak) were also in attendance.

Henri Nouwen Interview

File consists of a video recording of an interview with Henri Nouwen by Bob Grip for the television station WAIA in Mobile, Alabama. Nouwen was in Mobile to give a talk at the L'Arche community there.

Video recording of open hearts, open minds, open doors / Pathways Awareness Foundation

File consists of a commercial video recording (V40) of the "That All May Worship" inclusion Conference held in Chicago on April 22, 1996, with excerpts from Nouwen's keynote address and commentary by Joseph Cardinal Bernadin on the subject of inclusion of persons with disabilities in liturgy and church life through affirmation, communication, and accessibility. Video produced by Pathways Awareness Foundation in partnership with the Archdiocese of Chicago.

Video recording of solitude, community and ministry: three ways to create space for God / Chicago Sunday Evening Club

File consists of a video recording (V29) of Nouwen giving a talk titled "Solitude, Community and Ministry: Three Ways to Create Space for God" as part of the "30 Good Minutes Series". The program was recorded on October 20, 1993 and aired November 7, 1993. Also includes James Wall, another guest on the program who spoke on the subject of "Speaking of God."

Video recording of Henri Nouwen on can you drink the cup?

File consists of a video recording of Henri Nouwen speaking at Sacred Heart Church in Winnetka, Illinois. This is an excellent recording of Nouwen speaking to a large audience. The title of Nouwen's talk was "Can You Drink the Cup? - Spiritual Life Today".

David and Mary Wedding

File consists of a semi-professional video recording of a wedding in which Nouwen performed the ceremony. David [Fitzgerald] is the son of James Fitzgerald and Sophie Fitzgerald-Albregts. Mary [Marlborough] is the daughter of Mike [Michael] and Breda Marlborough.

Video recording of a retreat with Henri Nouwen

File consists of a video recording of Henri Nouwen leading a retreat. He is speaking in a classroom on the theme of "Living the Spiritual Life". It is not known where this took place.

Video recording of Henri Nouwen at Noroton Presbyterian Church

File consists of a video recording of a Henri Nouwen speaking at Noroton Presbyterian Church in Darien, Connecticut. Nouwen spoke on the theme of "Inclusivity and Compassion". His talk was divided into three parts: What does it mean to live the spiritual life? our spiritual life as a source of ministry and practical disciplines to help keep spiritual life alive. Bill van Buren accompanied Nouwen to this talk.

Henri J.M. Nouwen: April 3, 1996 interview / University of Notre Dame Alumni Continuing Education

File consists of a video recording of an interview with Nouwen at L'Arche Daybreak for the University of Notre Dame Alumni Continuing Education on April 3, 1996. Nouwen spoke on caring for aging parents and the spiritual challenges of aging.

The video is of high quality, although it is not possible to hear the questions of the interviewer. Nouwen covers many themes including belovedness, death, dying, caring, caregivers, aging, care, cure, and spiritual disciplines. Nouwen identifies aging as a letting go of our identity as what we do, what we earn etc. and learning our true identity as the Beloved sons and daughters of God. He suggests that aging brings us closer to our true identity. Aging is about becoming more dependent but it offers us the space to find the truth of who we are. This is the great spiritual challenge of aging.

He addresses some of the following questions:

How do we overcome our fear of aging? Answer: We require a discipline that reminds us constantly of being the Beloved. These disciplines are: friendship, prayer, community, and celebration of life. Again the spiritual challenge is how do I let go and discover the deeper truth of who I am.

How to be a good caregiver? Answer: Nouwen refers to the gospel which says "Blessed are the poor" and exclaims that we are all poor. The caregiver must believe and perceive that God's blessing is rooted in the poverty of the poor. To be a good caregiver we must start discovering the gift our aging parent has to offer us. One of these gifts is to be called back to the centre of your being. All the work of caring for the aging can make us resentful, but we have to make an inner shift that allows the parent to give us the gift of going deeper within ourselves to find out what life is all about. Burnout happens when a caregiver does not receive the gifts of the poor. It requires a discipline to receive and we can only do this if we are well cared for. Need to constantly renew perspective on what we are doing and live joyfully receiving the gifts of the dying. This is an enormous spiritual challenge - to discover the gifts of aging and dying people.

To be really present to the person dying (ministry of presence); know the value of the ministry of absence and when to set some limits to look after your own needs; take time out to be with people who can support you. The most difficult thing is to be half way there and resentful. Be fully present for shorter periods of time.

Care means to struggle with. It is the same word as compassion. To care is to be with people in their weakness, pain and struggle without needing to cure. All you need to say is "I love you and really want to be with you, even if I can't cure you." Joy comes from being with. It is hard to be with people we can't change, but you can develop a spiritual discipline to care rather than cure.

Nouwen also emphasized the importance of the caregiver coming to terms with their own mortality. He reminds the interviewer that aging and dying don't start at the end of life, but that we are all in the process of aging and dying. Compassion means "I am with you because I know in my own self that I too am dying, that I am on the same journey as you." The caregiver needs to feel solidarity and intimacy with the person dying in order for care to be possible. Not only does the caregiver need to be in touch with their own dying, they need to learn the discipline to deal with little disappointments as well.

Nouwen talks about the reasons for his decision to leave Yale and Harvard. He says: "I realized that to get to the core of my being, to move to a different plateau I needed to be more focused on the poor and the weak. I knew that by connecting myself with the poor they would lead me to the core of life. They would allow me to find the blessing they had for me.

Regarding his accident in 1989: Through this near-death experience Nouwen learned the importance of forgiveness and what is important in life. He explains that although he is still compulsive in some regards, underneath is a sense of being God's beloved son and that the people he meets are God's beloved sons and daughters too. It is through this common identity that we can meet each other.

Regarding his father: He was extremely grateful for the time he was having with his 93 year old father. He says: "I am immensely grateful for the time I spent with him, just for him.".

Regarding dying: He mentions the gospel story when Jesus says "It is good for you that I am dying because I can send you my spirit". He goes on to say that most people who are dying say "how much can I still do?". But the real question is: "how can I prepare myself so my death becomes a gift for those I leave behind?". The question of aging spiritually is "How can I make my life a gift for others?". This is aging into life. Of course there will be grief and mourning, but a person dying spiritually can say "I am ready to go. I hope you are ready to receive the Spirit of love that I will send you."

Reads from his book about his grandmother's death.

Alludes to death of Connie Ellis to say that being with her while she was dying brought him to an inner place of silence.

He concludes with some practical advice about how to
dying people:

  • speak but also be quiet
  • touch if appropriate and just be there
  • ask "do you like to pray?"
  • "do you want me to read something"
  • "do you want more/less visitors?"
  • "do you want to be alone for awhile?"
  • "is there anyone you would like to see?"
  • "can I write a letter for you?"
  • treat them like friends
  • take time for your own life
  • be clear when you are coming back and stick to it
  • invite people like priests etc.
  • visit like it is a privilege, try to give words to your affection, "I know it is hard for you, but I am here."

Life is an interruption of eternity, for what? For humans to have a chance to say to God I love you too.

With Open Hands / by Tim E. Wood

File consists of one video recording of a song, written by Tim E. Wood, titled "With Open Hands." Wood dedicated the song to Henri Nouwen, and recorded it on February 18, 1996. He sent this videocassette with his letter of February 26, 1996.

Video recording of Henri Nouwen and the Flying Rodleighs

File consists of a video recording of a performance of the Flying Rodleighs, a trapeze troupe from the Circus Barum. The recording also includes footage of Nouwen on the trapeze. This is an amateur video perhaps sent to Nouwen by the Rodleighs.

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