Cardinal van Rossum Symposium and presentation of
Life with a Mission

Wittem, Library of the Redemptorist Monastery, November 26, 2011

At the end of the successful Symposium on Cardinal Willem Marinus van Rossum CSsR (1854-1932), November 26, 2011, the volume Life with a Mission was presented in the stylish and impressive Redemptorist library of the Wittem monastery, once built by Van Rossum. On behalf of the Dutch Redemptorists, Father Henk Erinkveld CSsR, vice-provincial of the international St Clemens Province, received the first copy. In addition, he let his audience share in some interesting details regarding the relationship between Wittem and Cardinal van Rossum.


In the four preceding lectures, the audience had been able to get an impression of some aspects of the life and deeds of the Cardinal. In the first lecture, professor in Missiology and manager of the Nijmegen Institute of Missiology, Prof.Dr. Frans Wijsen, gave a clear overview of the developments in the missionary field since the beginning of the nineteenth century. The title of his lecture, ‘Global + local = glocal’, refers to the term ‘glocalisation’, which was initially used in structures of the world economy, but is now widely practiced for people and groups who are willing and able to think globally and act locally at the same time. At the beginning of the nineteenth century missionaries, nursed in an eurocentric Christianity, were inclined to spread the Good News from an eurocentric point of view. Next, processes of acculturation and inculturation in the missionary areas started a development towards a local Christianity, a development which was stimulated by Van Rossum’s policy directed towards the creation of an indigenous hierarchy. Nowadays, between the Catholic Church in the North and the South we notice the existence of an interdependent relationship, which Van Rossum never could have imagined but what he probably would have welcomed.


Next to the lecture of Frans Wijsen, the General Manager of Missio Nederland, the former Pontifical Missionary Works, Prof. Dr. Eduard Kimman SJ, gave an overview of the process of centralization of the missionary activities in the period of Van Rossum being Prefect of Propaganda Fide (1918-1932). This process made the missionary efforts, which until then had been more an issue of individual orders and congregations than of the Vatican and the Propaganda Fide, much more efficient. It forced the orders and congregations to intensify their cooperation. At the same time, the diocesan organizations of the Pontifical Missionary Works demanded a leading position in the missionary activities, which at times became an element of conflict in the relationship between the missionary orders and congregations and the Propaganda Fide. Read or download his lecture


Professor Dr. Adelbert Denaux, Dean of the Tilburg School of Catholic Theology (TST), highlighted the importance of biographies, not only as an instrument of historical investigation, but as a valuable educational instrument to introduce students in the field of Church History as well. The TST is not only involved in the Van Rossum biography, but in the biography of Cardinal Willebrands as well, which is being performed by dr. Karim Schelkens. In the future, more plans will follow. Read or download his lecture


Finally, Dr. Vefie Poels reflected on the importance of the biography on Cardinal van Rossum: not because he is an example for the Dutch Catholics, as he was in the first decades after his departure, or the centenary of the cardinal creation on November 27, 2011, but because he is the unique interface of three different historical processes at the turn of the nineteenth century. These processes meet in the personality of Willem Marinus van Rossum: the history of Dutch Catholicism, the history of orders and congregations, especially the Redemptorists, and the history of the Roman Curia. Read or download her lecture

In various ways, the Van Rossum Symposium has been an event to remember. Two days before the Symposium, Father Piet Nelen CSsR (1931-2011) died at Wittem. For some years, he had been the strong advocator of the Van Rossum biography. Next to the podium, in his memory, Father Henk Erinkveld placed a candle and a photograph of Piet Nelen. In several lectures Father Nelen was thanked for his contribution in the field of mission and religious life. We gratefully remember him.

Jozef Konings and Otto S. Lankhorst

Design: Frank G. Bosman