I studied musicology at the University of Amsterdam and theology at the Tilburg University. My dissertation was on the semiotic analysis of liturgical songs. Then I worked as a pastor (halftime) and a scientific assistent at the National Council for Liturgy (the other halftime), to be followed by a fulltime job at the Franciscaans Studiecentrum, of which I am the managing director since 2014. I wrote on music, on liturgy and media, but since 2003 years I focused on Franciscan and bodily spirituality. Sinc  2011 i studied spirituality in the practices of care, sustainability, leadership and poverty. In 2021 i became a professor devoted to the relevance of Franciscan spirituality for present day wicked problems. 


As a director of the Franciscaans Studiecentrum (Franciscan Studycentre) my intention is not only to keep the business going, but to introduce the scientific world with a different, complementary look at our reality. A brotherhood is more than a network, there is such a thing as positive humility, and peace is more than the avoidance of conflicts, sustainability challenges our bodies (not our technology), nature is not an indifferent system, knowledge should never be a matter of possession, and a problem conceals a mystery.  


I teach Christian spirituality and Franciscan spirituality, not only as themes but also as 'theories' in the original sense of the word: manners of looking at realities. Present day questions about poverty, sustainability, leadership, care, peace and education will be discussed not only as problems, but also as spiritual themes. Science, as it is taught at the university, approaches these questions exclusively as problems, often as 'wicked problems.' But because science is exclusively problem-oriented, it cannot see that 'problems' are wicked because they are not only problems. Referring to Gabriel Marcel, we can also approach them in the context of the mystery.  A mystery is a gaze in which the reality opens itself in a special way, which demands our presence rather than a solution.  Spirituality, then, is not only a subject matter for research, but also a manner of researching. 



The Franciscan Study centre cooperates intensively with the Tilburg School of Catholic Theology, with other study centres (among which the Universitair Centrum voor Geestelijke Verzorging, Tilburg Sustainability Centre, Fachstelle Franziskanische Forschung , Franciscan Institute),  with specialists in the field of poverty, sustainability, leadership  and care (see my publications), and recently with specialists in the development of educational programs. 

Recent publications

  1. Aansporingen

    Speelman, W. M. (2023). Aansporingen. Franciscaans Leven, 106(3), 91-99.
  2. Besturen: mensen wijzen op hun roeping

    Speelman, W. M. (2023). Besturen: mensen wijzen op hun roeping. In T. Van der Zee (Ed.), Leidende principes van goed besturen : Reflecteren in dialoog over het eigen handelen (pp. 84-89). Verus, vereniging voor katholiek en christelijk onderwijs.
  3. Broederschap in Frankrijk, bij Franciscus en in de OFS

    Speelman, W. M. (2023). Broederschap in Frankrijk, bij Franciscus en in de OFS. Doortocht, 60(5), 14-15.
  4. De verschijning op La Verna - een indrukwekkende ikoon

    Speelman, W. M. (2023). De verschijning op La Verna: een indrukwekkende ikoon. Franciscaans Leven, 106(4), 163-172.
  5. Here Francis Completed His Mission to Restore the Lord’s House: A Nar…

    Speelman, W. M. (2023). Here Francis Completed His Mission to Restore the Lord’s House: A Narrative Analysis of Greccio’s Christmas Celebration. Franciscan Connections.

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