‘Met wijsheid, voorzichtigheid en gematigdheid vooruitgaan’: De (im)materiële erfenis van een eeuw georganiseerd retraitewerk door Nederlandse jezuïeten, 1900-2000

Joep van Gennip

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


    Between 1908 and 1966 the Dutch Jesuits founded five retreat institutions in
    the Netherlands to support the laity with spiritual care and to enable them
    to undergo (a part of ) the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius van Loyola (the founder
    of the Jesuits). Notwithstanding the enormous popularity of these retreat
    activities, especially in the first half of the twentieth century, this phenomenon
    has hardly been subject to academic research. With this article, being
    a part of my postdoc-research project at Tilburg University, I hope to give
    a start to this study. At the turn of the century, the group retreat work the
    Dutch Jesuits introduced for the male laity in the Netherlands originated in
    Belgium and France. During the years to follow this work became exceptional
    popular among Catholics living in the southern provinces of the Netherlands.
    Due to a high organisational level of Catholic social and political institutions
    and the involvement of the Catholic upper-class and local parish priests the
    propaganda of the Jesuits for their retreat work in the Southern provinces
    was extremely effective. The (industrial) employers as well as the Jesuits regarded the retreat work as a splendid opportunity to ‘civilize’ the Catholic
    working-class and to keep them away from communism and socialism. As
    a consequence of new theological and spiritual insights, after World War II
    things started to change in the traditional retreat work. In the fifties and sixties
    the retreats were transformed into meetings of spiritual reflection and
    counselling, at last becoming socio-cultural training courses from the seventies
    onwards. The lack of a straightforward underlying theological vision for
    these transitions on which all Jesuits could agree on, the rising costs, and the
    declining number of Jesuits members, resulted in 1974 in the ending of their
    participation in this group-organized work. However, retreats given on an individual basis continued and from the nineties new initiatives were launched
    to popularize the Spiritual Exercises using digital techniques and the internet.
    Original languageDutch
    Article number3
    Pages (from-to)203-239
    JournalTrajecta. Religie, cultuur en samenleving in de Nederlanden / Religion, culture and society in the Low Countries
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2019


    • Dutch Jesuits
    • retreat work
    • Spiritual Exercises
    • religious institutes
    • theological changes

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