Following the plan announced in a letter of 30 January 2021, and with a view “to better spur forward and coordinate the apostolic undertakings,” the Prelate of Opus Dei has established a new region on 10 April incorporating the former regions of Britain, Ireland, the Netherlands, and Scandinavia. The new region is called North West Europe.
The Prelate has appointed Fr Christian van der Ploeg as Regional Vicar for the new region. From 2008 until now, Fr van der Ploeg has been Opus Dei's Regional Vicar for the Netherlands. After studying law in Amsterdam, he studied theology in Rome, where he also obtained a doctorate in philosophy. He was ordained priest in 1988. Since 1991, he has served on the governing council of Opus Dei in the Netherlands. In 1999, the Bishop of Haarlem–Amsterdam appointed him student chaplain in Amsterdam, and a year later rector of the Amsterdam Church of Our Lady. He held both positions until 2008.
Fr van der Ploeg will continue to reside in Amsterdam, but the governing councils for the women’s and the men’s apostolates will have members living in all four capital cities: Amsterdam, Dublin, London, and Stockholm.
On 29 November 2021, the Prelate met Pope Francis and was able to explain the restructuring process of some regions of Opus Dei. The Pope was delighted to hear about this and remarked, “It is important that everyone is out on the street, doing apostolate.”