We are Tilburg University

We are Tilburg University


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 in recent years I focus on Franciscan and bodily spirituality. I am now working on spirituality in the practices of care, sustainability, leadership and poverty. In 2020 I will start a project, in collaboration with Prof. M. van Dijn-Groeneboer (religious education), Dr. N. Kienstra  (didactics and philosophy) and E. van Kerkhoff (Verus), on developping programs for the education of franciscan values on high schools.  


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, and knowledge should never be a matter of possession.  


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. In de voetsporen van Hem, die nagenoeg geen voetafdruk had - De duurz…

    Speelman, W. M. (Accepted/In press). In de voetsporen van Hem, die nagenoeg geen voetafdruk had: De duurzame levenswijze van Franciscus van Assisi. In K. Pansters (Ed.), Duurzame Duurzaamheid Eburon Academic Publishers.
  2. Armoede als deugd - Een franciscaanse visie

    Speelman, W. M. (2019). Armoede als deugd: Een franciscaanse visie. In R. Tinnevelt (Ed.), De verschillende gezichten van armoede (pp. 185-206). (Annalen van het Thijmgenootschap; Vol. 107, No. 1). Valkhof Pers.
  3. De herstelkracht van het verhaal

    Speelman, W. M. (2019). De herstelkracht van het verhaal. In A. Smeets (Ed.), Helende zorg: Een geïnspireerd perspectief op gezondheid en zorg (pp. 71-83). Berne Media / Uitgeverij Abdij van Berne.
  4. De ontmoeting van Franciscus en de sultan: wat gebeurde er eigenlijk?

    Speelman, W. M. (2019). De ontmoeting van Franciscus en de sultan: wat gebeurde er eigenlijk? Franciscaans Leven, 102(1), 5-14.
  5. De structuur van het verhaal

    Speelman, W. M. (Accepted/In press). De structuur van het verhaal. Franciscaans Leven, 103(1).

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