Action Alert!

Dutch Treat

By Dr. Jeff Mirus (bio - articles - email) | Jan 25, 2010

Since I’ve been trying to watch Catholic affairs carefully since 1966 (my freshman year of college), you’d think I’d know these things. But as fully aware as I was, in the years following the Second Vatican Council, of the near total drift into Modernism of the Church in the Netherlands, I don’t think I ever realized that the Dutch shut down all their seminaries in 1967.

The reigning theory, of course, was that priests had to become more relevant to the world, and that the way to make this happen was to educate them in the world like everybody else. Any unbiased observer would have realized that this, along with all the rest of the tomfoolery, would be the death knell for Dutch vocations. And so it proved.

In 1997, however, a new seminary was founded in the Netherlands for the diocese of Haarlem-Amsterdam, Willibrord House, under the leadership of bishop Joseph Punt and the Rector, Msgr. Dr. Jan Hendryks. At this point, the number of formal seminarians is only fifteen for three dioceses, though two Benedictines and twenty-three members of the Redemptoris Mater movement are also in residence. Classes there are open to those who live in other houses of formation as well.

The shift from shutting seminaries down in 1967 to the restoration and growth of a new seminary beginning in 1997 makes the Dutch situation something of an intense microcosm of the Church as a whole. The Church in the Netherlands has a long way to go. Indeed, things never got quite as bad elsewhere. But believe me, if the Dutch can make a comeback, so can we all.

Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Princeton University. A co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and See full bio.

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  • Posted by: - Jan. 25, 2010 8:09 PM ET USA

    Good observation that deserves notice. In times of critical needs, vocations arise to the challenge often in unexpected places and most often with a great gift of the Spirit within themselves. If we don't see the hand of God and the action of the Spirit in this, I think we are blind in our faith. Thanks for signaling us in the right direction.