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Preface

Mother Julia and our Spiritual Family have often witnessed God’s good and wise guidance. In the book of Psalms it says: “The counsel of the Lord stands for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations.“ (Ps 33:11). Here we may narrate a few events from God’s history with our Foundress and our Community.

In the task that the Lord entrusts to you now, He is present for you. Mother Julia

1910 – Childhood

Julia was born in Geluwe (diocese of Bruges, Belgium) on 11 November 1910 as the eighth of eleven children. From 1914 to 1918 raged the First World War. The family had to leave Geluwe in 1917 and only returned in 1920. From the age of 14, Julia worked for various families in Belgium and France.

I was nurtured and formed in the midst of the chaos of war. God needs none of those things that the world needs in order to form a person. God knows what He gives and what He takes. Mother Julia

1925/1926 – St Paul

While listening to the Word of God during Mass, Julia was deeply seized by the person and the words of St Paul.

“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching. (2 Tim 4:3). I was so seized by this declaration of St Paul, that I seemed to be totally immersed in the substance of the text. This text has been like a summons from God’s providence to my whole life right up until today. It was the first seed of the charism of The Work. Mother Julia

1929 – Surrender

The film “King of Kings“ about the life of Jesus left a deep impression in Julia’s soul. In the same year, a time of suffering began after she fell from a staircase. Later, Julia wrote, recalling the depiction of Jesus‘ suffering in the film:

At that moment I gave myself totally to God. Mother Julia

1934 – Holy Covenant

Through a grace-filled light Julia was granted a profound encounter with Our Lord wearing the crown of thorns on the solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. She answered Christ’s call with a resolute Yes.

The “Yes” that I spoke to the Lord at that time, was like a “Holy Covenant” with the incarnate Heart of Jesus. Mother Julia

1938 – Foundation

Fr Cyrill Hillewaere, who guided Julia spiritually, recognised God’s work in her. On 18 January he himself answered the call to be at the disposal of The Work. We consider this day as the founding day of The Work.

Since 18 January 1938, the Lord has called me and others with me to live this unity in a family, to make His life and His prayer our own, and to work for Him and with Him for this unity. Mother Julia

1941 – Future in God’s hands

Under the protection of Our Lady Julia left her parental home on 16 July, Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, in order to better follow God’s call in interior freedom.

Mary helped me to fulfill the will of God throughout the remaining war years. The future was known to God alone. Mother Julia

1947 – Community Life

In St. Niklaas and shortly afterwards in Brussels, Mother Julia developed the communal life with the first Sisters. The young community took over an empty convent in Villers-Notre-Dame (diocese of Tournai) in 1950. Soon other centres in Belgium came into being.

Mother Julia was so simple and honest. She was close to everyone. She was warm-hearted, and relaxed. With her, there was true union as a family without any false familiarity. A Sister about Mother Julia

1959 – First ecclesial approval

The community received the first ecclesial approval as a “Pia Unio” through Bishop Charles-Marie Himmer, Bishop of the diocese of Tournai, in Wallonia (Belgium).

Jesus knows how much I long that The Work may be firmly planted in the Church. Mother Julia

1964 – Expansion

In Innsbruck (Austria) the first centre of The Work outside of Belgium comes into existence. Experiencing joy and confident faith, as well as labours and difficulties, the Community further expanded into various countries.

Since the Lord ordains it, it is good. I feel and trust that the Lord has taken the running of The Work powerfully in hand. Mother Julia

1970 – Further Development

Mother Julia handed the governance of the community into younger hands. New forms of membership developed: diocesan priests, families, widows and single persons join The Work.

There are varieties of gifts, but the same spirit. There are varieties of service, but the same Lord. 1 Cor 12:4-5

1986 – Priests‘ Community

Bishop Bruno Wechner established the Priests‘ Community of The Work in the diocese of Feldkirch (Austria). The Work’s own formation of priests began two years later in Rome.

The complementarity of the Priests’ and Sisters’ Community is an essential part of the mission of The Work in our time. Mother Julia

1997 – Passing

On 29 August Mother Julia completed her earthly pilgrimage of faith und returned to the heavenly Father’s House. She found her last resting place in the church of the Thalbach convent in Bregenz (Austria).

It pleased God to choose me according to His Will to be an instrument of His Work. I have founded nothing. When Jesus Christ founded the Church, everything was founded. He just needs people to live this foundation profoundly. Mother Julia

1999 – A New Form of Consecrated Life

The Work received ecclesiastical approval as a new form of consecrated life on 11 June 1999 in the diocese of Rome. In the Apostolic Exhortation “Vita Consecrata” (1996) we read:

The perennial youth of the Church continues to be evident even today. In recent years, following the Second Vatican Council, new or renewed forms of the consecrated life have arisen. John Paul II

Book Mother Julia

We recommend the book “ She loved the Church” to all who wish to know more about Mother Julia and the beginnings of The Spiritual Family The Work:
 
Book-order:"She loved the Church". Mother Julia Verhaeghe and the beginnings of the Spiritual Family The Work.
The Spiritual Family The Work, 2009.
 

Pontifical Approbation of The Spiritual Family The Work in 2001

 

Message of John Paul II to The Spiritual Family The Work during the audience on 10th November 2001

 
Not long after our Spiritual Family The Work was given pontifical approbation, Cardinal Ratzinger celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving with us and for us in St Peter’s, on 10th November 2001. He preached the sermon on that occasion.

2001 – Papal Approval

The Work received papal approval as a “Family of Consecrated Life.” Pope John Paul II addressed a message to The Work Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving in St Peter’s in Rome and delivered the homily.

Rome stands before my eyes. The Holy Father has to give his blessing to The Work. I think that I can ask Jesus for this and strive after it. Mother Julia in 1939