University Parishes and Student Churches in Europe Past and Present: A historical and comparative survey
19-22 March 2014
Leuven Institute for Ireland in Europe, Janseniusstraat 1, 3000 Leuven
International colloquium on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the University Parish of Leuven (1963-2013)
In November 1963, the Leuven University Parish was ecclesiastically recognized as a personal parish and its operations among students and the academic community (professors, researchers and administrative staff) was enthusiastically launched. In its fifty years of development, the Leuven University Parish covered a remarkable course, one that has already drawn the interest of historians such as Lieve Gevers, Louis Vos, and Bart Latré. Their studies indicate the importance of student parishes in many areas. In the first place, there was the parish in the context of the student revolts of the 1960s, which manifested itself as a laboratory/breeding ground for socially critical movements. But the cited authors also situate the Leuven Parish in the context of the renewal of the Catholic Action during the 1950s and the élan inspired by the aggiornamento of the Church in the context of the second Vatican Council (1962-1965). The enthusiasm of the University Parish, from its beginnings in the 1970s up until today, led to the breaking open of new ground in the areas of liturgy, the place of women in the Church, the concept of sexuality and the forming of relationships and social mission. In brief, the Leuven University Parish saw itself and was also active as “active yeast in the dough.”
The need for a comparative perspective
The Leuven University Parish is no isolated issue. In the wake of the development in the nineteenth century (especially in the last quarter of the century) from a number of Catholic universities and the Church’s growing concern to provide the necessary religious framework for the students – who were considered to be the future elite – affiliated university fraternities, study groups, and all sorts of organized expressions of devotion and pilgrimages became established. The Neo-Thomism and the related new apologetic gave to this university pastoral activity an additional élan avant-la-lettre, even if its primary support came from Dominicans and Jesuits. During the period between the two World Wars, the emphases shifted to the abovementioned Catholic Action. It seems therefore to be particularly interesting to contrast the story of the Leuven University Parish with the pastoral structures and initiatives for student/academic communities that were present elsewhere. Did the various initiatives have contact with each other? Were there forms of interaction concerning vision and specific activities? To what extent did the “Leuven model” have an influence elsewhere, or did other parishes look to the student churches in the Netherlands or to the student pastoral work as it developed for example in France or Germany? What was the role/position of the secular or regular clergy in this and what place did the laity – men and women –have in the whole? The comparison may enable a better understanding of the relativity or the uniqueness of the Leuven parish.
In light of this intended comparison, an International Colloquium will be held in Leuven from Wednesday evening, 19 March, until Saturday, 22 March 2014. The colloquium is structured systematically. Taking the history of the Leuven Parish as departure point, it will subsequently, through keynote lectures that portray the developments of a university and student church in Western Europe, provide a framework for the desired comparative perspective.
English will be the main language of the colloquium.
CONCEPT OF THE COLLOQUIUM
Wednesday, 19 March 2014
Opening Session in the evening
The Catholic Church in Flanders. Context of the emerging University Parish in Leuven
by Em. Prof.. Lieve Gevers, KU Leuven
Thursday, 20 March 2014
University and Student Churches in Historical Perspective
Keynote lectures on Belgium, France, The Netherlands, Germany, Italy and Switzerland
Friday, 21 March 2014
University and student pastoral work – on 4 topics.
For the content of this day, see below.
Saturday, 22 March 2014
General Public Day
Reflections on university pastoral work yesterday, today and tomorrow
CALL FOR PAPERS
During the second day of the colloquium, a number of more substantive themes will focus on specific aspects of University and student pastorate in the context of the phenomenon of the university parish.
The aim of this day is to zoom in on the identity of a University Parish /student church and to include in this context the cross fertility in Europe. In addition to the comparative approach, the colloquium is open for cases where the approach of other Christian churches or denominations has been studied. Contributions are expected to take a certain historical line of approach, which will be a selection criterion for selection of the submitted contributions
The following themes will be covered:
1° Office and Structure
The relation of the West European university pastoral work/student church with the Church (diocesan government, nunciature and Rome, territorial parishes) or for example the university governing boards, office issues (e.g. gender, vocations, celibacy, permanent deacons) etc.
2° Community Formation and Deacony
Being church in a university context: building community, the quest for structures, the position of pastoral workers, formation (e.g. lectures, study weekends, etc.), deacony etc.
In Europe, the activities of the university parishes or student churches were characterized by a strong emphasis on liturgy. This section will focus on this: e.g., the development of the liturgy of the Word, development of a specific song culture, own emphasis on the liturgical space, para-liturgical activities such as evening prayer with a political emphasis etc.
4° Humankind and the World: vision and action
What specific perspective was developed in this pastoral unit on humankind and the World? Perspective on the North-South problem, religion and environment, points of view relating to bio-ethics, gender, sexuality and the forming of relationships etc.
The day will be closed with a reflection debate led by Em. Prof. Louis Vos, KU Leuven.
6:30 p.m. End
Participants are invited to submit papers (max. 500 words) on one of the themes mentioned above, before November 1st, 2013 to firstname.lastname@example.org. A Scientific Committee will evaluate and select the papers. Paper proposals should contain a title and an outline of the contribution, as well as the link with this call for papers. Please also submit a short CV.
Contributions may be in Dutch, French or English. The Committee advises the use of English.
The proceedings of the colloquium will be published (after a process of selection and peer reviewing).