'Did you mean that I ought to say: ”I’m a priest?”': 'The industrial apostolate of the Dutch Jesuits in the city of Rotterdam and its suburbs, 1947-1988, I'

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The Jesuits were the first religious order in the post-war Netherlands to experiment with a new form of mission in the workplace in Rotterdam and Amsterdam. This work had already seen some success in the 1940s in France, inspired by the nouvelle théologie, but with his Instruction on the Social Apostolate (1949) the Jesuit superior-general started to promote ‘social work’ as a typically Jesuit mission. For many workers traditional parish structures were insufficient, and the influence of communism was considered a major danger. The Dutch Jesuit industrial chaplains used a method of inculturation in which Catholic and non-Catholic labourers participated in discussion groups moderated by a Jesuit. This method, called kernvorming, had previously been
used by the Flemish Catholic Workers’ Youth Movement, although Dutch Jesuits introduced it for the first time to the industrial apostolate in the post-war Netherlands. Soon it became the modus operandi of all Dutch chaplains to industry.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)649-671
Number of pages22
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2019



  • industrial apostolate
  • Social work
  • Dutch Jesuits
  • Rotterdam
  • forming industrial cells
  • kernvorming

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