I am the way and the truth and the life.
I often find myself looking ahead. I like to make plans. What is my goal? Where will I be in five years? Where am I going? What is the meaning of my life? What does God want me to do with my life? What is my calling?
But often I don't know what the future will bring me. I wait for His voice, and in the meantime, go on with my life. I have taken a different path at times in recent years, but actually I always come back to the main road. I walk on and stay on the familiar road.
I think I've been walking straight all my life. As I look back over the past 20 years I see very clearly God's direction in my life. The road I have traveled is not straight. It is a winding path with many different side trails.
Of course, the correct answer is to say that God has been working with me since my baptism on Oct. 14, 1990, now 33 years ago. But I actually notice more that with receiving the sacrament of confirmation on Nov. 27, 2004, now 19 years ago, something structurally changed. I became an adult. At first, I made choices like a child. But the period after my confirmation, I changed direction. I got a digital camera with my Holy Confirmation. When I look back at it now, it is a very bad camera, but the technology used to be not as good as now either. But this is purely materialistic. The main thing I look back on is what I did with the pictures. I wanted to publish them. I wanted to share them with the world. I spent a lot of time in my teenage years tinkering with websites to publish the photos. I had no clue what it was all about, and with making many mistakes I learned how to make a website. Also looking back now very amateurish, but still. For a boy of 14, it was still quite nice.
My interest in photography and technology started during this period. As a child I was very much into conservation, bird spotting and I made all kinds of drawings in perspective. My father was a landscaper and I wanted to become a landscaper partly because I could draw so well. So I went to high school where you could learn that. But halfway through high school my first intersection came my way. I no longer wanted to be a landscaper but to do something with computers. What it was I didn't know yet, but that I wanted to take the course was certain before I started third grade.
The moment I graduated from high school and got my diploma then I fell in love. It only lasted 3 months. But now looking back I can say that it was good. We were not meant for each other. The day she broke up with me I went to church. I remember. It was Thursday night, Oct. 23, 2008, now 15 years ago. I was sad and felt comforted by the church. I felt a calling in me that said. Why don't you become a priest. I thought, "No, that's not for me. I like girls. You can't do that as a priest. No way, that's nothing for me." A few weeks later on Sunday, there was a woman sitting in front of me in church who said to me, "Isn't becoming a priest something for you?" I don't remember who that woman is. All I remember is that it made me feel good. I went to talk to our chaplain and he told me. "You are still young. You just started an education. You need to let this mature."
And then my mother got sick One day the pastor came home to my mother and he told me that there was a meeting in Arnhem with all kinds of young people from the diocese. Maybe this is something for you. I went to that. It was on February 13, 2011, now 13 years ago. The theme was "Love is..." because the day after was Valentine's Day. I was so touched by the beautiful words there. And there they also told about the WYD in Madrid. When I was in my cold room at night I was extremely hot. I thought I had a fever. I felt very strongly touched by the Holy Spirit. I thought, "Yes I should become a priest."
This controlled my thoughts for several months. During the WYD I was talking with the rector in the pool in Zaragoza. We discussed this and he told me, "Finish your studies first. You need preliminary training." I said I might continue my studies at the Hogeschool Arnhem and Nijmegen. He told me to come back later.
During that same period, I was doing an internship at EyeFactory. The company moved to Roermond and I was able to finish my internship in Ede. At some point I was given the option to work at the company after I finished my degree. However, I had to move to Roermond for this. This is another choice you don't make just like that. I really notice the guiding hand of God in this. I was demotivated at school because I learned nothing. I taught myself almost everything. So I decided to take the plunge and move to Roermond and not continue my studies. I moved 4 days after I got my degree at April 27, 2012, now 11 years ago.
I moved to the St. Christopher Cathedral right after I moved. Well, you live in an Episcopal city, so why go to the Munsterkerk when there is a cathedral 5 minutes away. I went there on Sunday and was immediately taken in. My vocation came back strongly. I also went to the priestly ordination on June 2, 2012 with the priest and talked about it. I wanted to be an acolyte and Saturday, June 9, 2012, now 11 years ago, was my first time at St. Christopher Cathedral. I had been an altar boy at the church since I was six, but acolyte is something else.
In the months that followed, I had conversations with my spiritual director. I was looking into becoming a priest and could think of nothing else. I went to talk to the rector of Rolduc. When I spoke to an old friend from the WYD in 2011 at the Catholic Youth Day on November 4, 2012 in 's Hertogenbosch and told him I wanted to become a priest, he said, "You're from the Archdiocese of Utrecht, right? That's where your roots are. Then apply there!" This was very convincing. I made an appointment with the rector of the Ariëns Institute. I applied to become a priest and entered a pathway.I took a psychological test that was very ridiculous. I had to do calculations that I didn't understand. And I was asked if I felt like leading a meeting with the church board after a long day. I answered no. I literally answered. I couldn't answer, No, I don't feel like it, but do it because it's necessary. And another ridiculous question if I am going to cut toenails while there are visitors. The conclusion of the examination was clear. I had dyscalculia and am administratively incompetent. I disagreed with the results. I have to solve complex math formulas at work, but because I can't see in 10 seconds what 10 numbers have to do with each other, then you have dyscalculia. I was angry. When I told this to the rector he told me, "Well, you may be right. This is the result. But you are good with computers. Why don't you do something with that?" This got me thinking. This is another small sidetrack in my life.
After a few months, I still wanted to be a priest. I thought, "My name is of 't Klooster. So why don't I go to a monastery?" And yes which one. After a Google assignment, I ended up with the Jesuits. They are scientists. So yes, that might be something. I made an appointment and went to Amsterdam. The trip was longer than the appointment. I told them I had been rejected at the seminary, and also the priest told me, "Yes, the rector is right. You are good with computers. Those qualities are also needed in the church."This is a big milestone in my life.
On June 12, 2013, now 10 years ago, I started Kerk en IT. I first did this as a hobby alongside my work. Until at some point it took up so much time that I decided to register a business on Sept. 24, 2017. I worked a lot in the following year. In 2018, when EyeFactory was acquired by an Irish investor, I decided to start completely on my own.
And so my life went from milestone to milestone. I was barely a full-time freelancer when the World Youth Days in Panama were. This turned my life 180º. I received a promise from God. It was the most extraordinary trip of my life.
In the years that followed, I went back to Panama and there was also something like a pandemic. But all these years God has blessed my life and wonderful things have happened that can only come from God.
So now when I look back I see that my road that is behind me is not straight. There are many sharp turns in it. Some deep valleys, but often high in the mountains. My life goes from high point to high point. And yes, the truth is that I could not achieve this alone. My whole life is connected to Jesus.