Advisors and coaches

Student chaplaincy in Utrecht

Introduction

Theology is about God and about believing. It is also about your God, and your belief. That is what makes theology so fascinating.

The university wants to help you in two ways. In the first place with thinking. For that reason there are lectures, professors and the facilitating personnel. This is the most important service of the university. Then secondly, with the experience of your belief. For that reason, there is the student chaplaincy.

The student chaplaincy deals with everything that has not to do with the mere thinking about the faith, but with experiencing it.

Liturgy

The Tilburg School of Catholic Theology wants to be a place where the faith is not only thought of, but also experienced. Therefore, at certain moments during the year, we celebrate the Eucharist. For example: at the beginning of the academic year, around Christmas and Easter. You will receive an invitation in your mailbox.

Personal belief

The Tilburg School of Catholic Theology also wants to help you to develop your own life of faith. You can ask the student chaplain to listen to you and for advice:

  • If you have questions regarding your belief after the lectures which make you feel confused – how do you deal with this?
  • If you observe that although your thinking is improving, your prayer life is not. How could you search and find God in the silence?
  • If you would like to know more about spirituality, for instance Benedictan, Franciscan or Ignatian spirituality. There are various ways of believing.
  • If you are thinking about vocation and would like to ‘discern’ what is going on.
  • If you have a difficulty with certain sayings or teachings of the Church or people who belong to the Church.

And of course you could also have a chat when there are no difficulties, but joy!

Digital retreat

In the time before Christmas (Advent) and before Easter (Lent), you have the opportunity to be introduced to prayer with Scripture and prayer with your life. This can be done by a digital retreat according to the Ignatian tradition. Specific for this tradition is: a basic trust in each one’s own way with God; to meditate on the persons, places and actions of a certain Biblical story; to notice what you experience and feel when you meditate on this story; to take the time for what you experience; to ‘speak’ confidentially with God in prayer.

How? Every day during Advent or Lent, you receive an e-mail (in Dutch) with a Biblical tekst and certain questions. Once a week there can be an exchange of experiences in a group, where both practical aspects and content can be shared. If you are not very familiar with Dutch, we can see if something can be arranged.

An invitation for this digital retreat will be sent by e-mail, twice a year.

Biography

Studentenpastor Utrecht Ward Biemans

My name is Ward Biemans, I am a Jesuit, that is why I put SJ behind by name (Society of Jesus). After secondary school, I have studied environmental policy science in Utrecht. During that time, I discovered God and Scripture anew, mainly through conversations with fellow students and after visiting Taizé, the ecumenical community in France. In the mean time I was working in environmental policy, but after some years, I discovered my vocation to the priesthood.

I have entered the Society of Jesus, the first two years I lived as a novice in Birmingham, U.K. After that I have studied theology in Nijmegen and in Rome, at the Gregorian University. As a priest, I have worked for six years in a parish in Nijmegen. There, I have learned a lot about the sacraments, about pastoral ministry, about preaching, about collaboration with a lot of other people.

After those years, I spent one year in the United States to complete my formation as a Jesuit. Since then, I live in Amsterdam.

Spirituality

What attracted me most in the Jesuits is their striving for developing faith and justice. From the beginning of the Order, many Jesuits have worked in the educational sector. Besides that, Jesuits work in the care for various vulnerable groups in society, such as refugees, prisoners, the elderly, etc.

Part of my formation is to receive and to give the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. This is an excellent method which could help people to make choices in their lives, by means of meditation and searching for the will of God in daily life.

Activities

I am student chaplain for the Tilburg School of Catholic Theology and the Fontys Hogeschool voor Theologie en Levensbeschouwing, location Utrecht, for one day a week. I work on various days.

Further, I am a spiritual director for the students at the seminary of the Archdiocese of Utrecht, the Ariënsinstitute. I am ecclesiastical assistant for the Ignatian lay movement Christian Life Community, CLC. In 2016, I have published ‘The Heart and the Abyss. Preventing Abortion’, a book which deals with the abortion dilemma. And finally, I assist in the liturgical celebrations in Amsterdam, in the St. Francis Xavier church (the Krijtberg).

You can reach me by