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Sunday, 20 May 2001
Brugge --> Menen (B)

Menen is just a few steps from the French-Belgium border. Jurgen, my new host in this little city, was coincidentally in Brugge itself and invited me over at her neeces' First Commune Party, where the whole family had joined.
The next morning we all had breakfast and afterwards I contacted my host for tonight, who lives far south in Menen. Coincidentally he would be in Brugge this afternoon, at the First Commune Party of her little niece Kimberly.

So we agreed upon meeting each other at the Brugge train station at 4pm, where he’d pick me up.

For Annick & Jurgen that meant some more time to show me around in this old town. We visited the oldest pub in Europe (established in 1515 and as you can see: still in the original state), walked through the tightest official street of Europe and searched and found the oldest canal bridge in Europe.

No wonder that Brugge is awarded as the Cultural Capital of Europe for 2002 – this year the Dutch city of Breda is the Cultural Capital of Europe.

At 4pm I met my host for tonight, also called Jurgen, who took me to this First Commune Party.

It actually meant I was very welcomed by the parents of the little girl. Because I hadn’t had lunch today, I could get whatever I want from the buffet and of the barbeque, just like the rest of the whole family.

Man, that felt very weird; also because I was a total stranger there.

After this festivity Jurgen brought his sister home and tried to fix her mothers’ computer at her home, after someone spoilt some drink on it. It was unrepearable after all, and we got back in to the car the drive –almost to the French border – to the city of Menen.

Being at this party wasn’t the most incredible thing I have experienced on the last 20 days. What I found out in the car on the way the his home, is that Jurgen is a priest!
He has had a youth just like must of us – living life to the max and don’t care about religion. He studied technology.

Just, at a certain point in his life he started to study at the seminary and got more involved in 'being right there' for the people.

Right now he is a priest for a Catholic community in Menen for over 3 years now.

The following night we drunk special beers and Jurgen talked a lot about his life. He is also a bit chat addicted on the internet. He has even used the internet to create this special cyber-mass in the church, where people all over this Belgian region could join in.

The Belgian internet magazine Clickx even asked him to write columns, go check them out (in Dutch).

I am raised Catholic, but don't do anything about it anymore and I asked Jurgen how he - as a priest - thought about that. He said that life is about being happy with yourself and the people around you. "But just keep developping yourself in your life as long as possible", was his main statement. "Keep ask yourself questions as you grow older". It was unique to have this conversation with him.

But next to this all he is mostly a very normal person who has CD's of Aerosmith and Tori Amos, just as most people have!

It's great to be a person who can say that he talked an drunk beer and stayed at a priests' house!

Jurgen is a very honest person, I wished there were more people like him on this world, but I am still trying to find that out.