Jan van Eijndhoven (1927-2013)
Priest of the diocese of ’s-Hertogenbosch (Netherlands)
Honorary Canon of the Chapter of the Cathedral of ‘s-Hertogenbosch
Former Director of Instituut voor Doven, Sint-Michielsgestel
Co-Founder of the International Catholic Foundation of the Service of Deaf Persons
Jan van Eijndhoven was born on 12 February 1927 as the fifth of six sons. His father was head of the school in a small village, Netersel, in the Dutch province of Brabant. As a boy of 12 years he went to the minor seminary of his diocese, the diocese of ‘s-Hertogenbosch.
After his ordination in on 7 June 1952, Jan was appointed as an assistant vicar to a parish. On 19 August 1955, he was appointed as a priest by the Bishop to the Instituut for the Deaf (Instituut voor Doven, IvD). IvD was a Catholic institute. On 29 May 1963, Jan was nominated as assistant director, and on 2 October 1966 as director.
As a director, Jan took many initiatives for the improvement of IvD, in several ways. Jan also promoted many initiatives for the improvement of school education and the formation of teachers. He saw the importance of a sound scientific basis of deaf education, and he encouraged many persons in IvD, like his colleague priest Antoine van Uden and one of the first lay teachers, Jan van Dijk, to start studies at University. Van Uden became the world leading person in the field of oral education of the deaf, and Jan van Dijk became the world leading person in deafblind education.
Under Jan’s directorship programmes were started up for education of deafblind children and developmentally delayed deaf children. As a chairman of the admission committee of IvD, one he said: “As long as I am the director of IvD, no child, however complicated the disability, will be refused admission to IvD”. In IvD itself, Jan started with so-called short courses: people from outside were invited to come to IvD for a period of three months, for courses about deaf and deafblind education. For many years, people came from various countries in Africa (Nigeria, Tanzania, Kenya, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia), Asia (India, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Sri Lanka), the Americas (USA, Jamaica, Brazil, Argentina), even Eastern Europe, before the fall of communism. Staff members of IvD were sent out to India, Tanzania, Kenya, Vietnam, and later on Czechoslovakia, Ukraine. Fr. Jan was a pioneer in spreading best practice models
In the early 70s, the International Conferences for Religious Education of the Deaf, was founded by Jan, the late Sister Nicholas OP from Ireland, the late Dr. Ann Mulholland and the late Father John Hourihan from USA. Later, Jan began communicating with the late Canon Charles Hollywood from Manchester, England, a person with different ideas about communication with the Deaf, but with the same passion for deaf people in the Church – Jan and Charlie became friends for life. It was also the beginning of the International Catholic Foundation for the Service of Deaf People. Jan supported ICF a great deal by using his skills in fund raising.It was a great joy for many of us who love and respect Jan that in2012when he celebrated the 60th anniversary of his priesthood. The gift of Jan’s example as priest, educator, pastoral worker and friend leave us all with an amazing role model to follow. His life’s work will continue to inspire us for generations to come.