Henri Nouwen


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Nouwen was ordained a Catholic priest for the Archdiocese of Utrecht on July 21, 1957, by Bernardus Alfrink at St. Catherine's Cathedral in Utrecht. :82 Eager to learn more about himself and the people he counseled, Nouwen requested permission from Alfrink to study psychology instead of theology. His request was granted and from 1957 to 1964 he studied at the Catholic University of Nijmegen. :xvii In studying the fundamentals of clinical psychology, Nouwen struggled with the lack of interdisciplinary analysis. He sought to use psychology as a means of exploring the human side of faith which he felt was being overlooked, from a pastoral standpoint, in broader theological discussions. During his studies at the university, he was greatly influenced by Han Fortmann, a Dutch psychologist of religion whose writing about action and contemplation in a busy world are mirrored in Nouwen's own work. :23f For his thesis work, Nouwen focused on Anton Boisen, an American minister credited with founding the clinical pastoral education movement. The thesis was not approved due to a lack of scientific analysis and clinical study. Rather than revising the work to obtain a doctorate, Nouwen completed his studies in 1964 by obtaining a doctorandus degree. :38–47

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