Equipping God's People to Create Missional Culture

Henri Nouwen and His Ministry of Companioning with Wil Hernandez

Many have been asking me what the next series was going to be after thoroughly enjoying The Good News Series. I’m glad to announce today that the next series on this blog is about Henri Nouwen’s approach to Soul Care and Spiritual Companioning by author, teacher and spiritual director Wil Hernandez. Wil will be my distinguished guest blogger during this series, who will also be taking the time to respond to your thoughts and questions. After a short introduction of Henri Nouwen, I will take a moment to introduce you to my spiritual director Wil Hernandez as well as give you an outline for this series. So read on.

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you realize that one of my spiritual mentors is Henri Nouwen. Nouwen was a Soul Healer who lived life to the full. There are many things about Henri Nouwen that amaze me. He was a priest, a fully accredited psychologist, could speak a number of languages, taught at Nortre Dame, Yale and Harvard, was a self sacrificing missionary in South and Central America. He was a speaker who would mesmerize thousands for hours, a guy who had to turn down on average 50 invitations to speak a week. He was an author of over 45 books that have been translated into many languages all over the world, and studied by seminary students as well as priest and pastors from catholic, protestant and orthodox denominations – not to mention the many other faiths that reflected on his writing, including Buddhist monks, rabbi’s and Muslims.

He accomplished much, learned much and shared much, but understood his need of community. While a Professor at Harvard, he only had to work 6 months out of the year, with six months to do as he pleased. While he was working at one of the most prestigious universities in the world, he received an invitation to pastor at an international community of men and women with intellectual and physical disabilities, who create a home together with assistants from many different backgrounds and faith traditions. Assistants as well as the core members often came to this community with wounds by circumstances, accidents, structures, rejection, abuse and a range of other reasons. Before deciding to leave Harvard, he undertook his second thirty-day silent retreat following the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola. He then decided to take the invitation to pastor this broken community, the L’Arche community of Daybreak in Toronto, where he would spend most of the rest of his life, with this unknown community of people.

In this next series of posts, you will be able to learn more about how Henri Nouwen approached journeying with others in life – soul companioning. And we will be learning from my personal spiritual director Wil Hernandez who in his PhD dissertation focused on Henri Nouwen’s counterintuitive and countercultural brand of spirituality. Wil hosts the website: Nouwen Legacy and is the author of two books on Henri Nouwen. His first book is entitled: Henri Nouwen: A Spirituality of Imperfection, and his second book is Henri Nouwen and Soul Care: A Ministry of Integration. This particular series is excerpted and adapted from this book. If you enjoy this series, then you should check out these books. I highly recommend them. They are rich, deep and helpful for ministry. Here are what a couple of people are saying about Wil’s latest work:

“Henri Nouwen and I spent many friendly days together. His brilliance, his complexity, his shadow side (never disguised), his skill as a spiritual teacher are all very clearly presented here. Wil Hernandez integrates the man who integrated so many of us.”
Richard Rohr, OFM, Center for Action and Contemplation]

“What a learning resource from one of the greatest spiritual guides of our time! Particularly helpful is Wil’s careful work in describing soul care. His accurate descriptions, coupled with concrete illustrations from the life and writings of Henri Nouwen, are an inspiration.”
Ruth Haley Barton, co-founder and president, Transforming Center, and author of Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership.

Along with being an author and spiritual director, Wil works with the Leadership Institute in partnership with the Denver-based Spiritual Formation Alliance Network as coordinator of the Southern California Spiritual Formation Partners. He also teaches courses on the spirituality of Henri Nouwen at Fuller Theological Seminary, Haggard Graduate School of Theology at Azusa Pacific University, and the Center for Religion and Spirituality at Loyola Marymount University.

With that brief introduction of Henri and Wil, let me give you the outline and dates of the posts of where Wil will be taking us on this journey:

6.3.09 Introduction
6.5.09 Nouwen as a Spiritual Friend
6.8.09 Nouwen as a Spiritual Guide
6.10.09 Nouwen as a Spiritual Mentor
6.12.09 Nouwen as a Spiritual Director
6.15.09 Conclusion

As you read these various entries, please take a moment to make a comment or ask a question. For Wil Hernandez will take the time to respond to you during this series. So get ready, for the first installation of the series starts tomorrow!

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