The Spiritual Family The Work

Mass of Thanksgiving for the life of Mother Julia Verhaeghe at Saint Ann’s Basilica in Jerusalem

God’s Providence led us to this date: the day of Mother Julia’s baptism in 1910. It was on this date this year that we gathered to give thanks for her life as we commemorated the 25th anniversary of her death.

During her stay in the Holy Land (14th October to 19th November 1978) Mother Julia received many graces from the Lord by visiting the holy places, graces which contributed to the development of the charism of The Work. For this reason, it was meaningful to have a Mass of Thanksgiving in Jerusalem, at the Basilica of Saint Ann’s, where we, members of The Spiritual Family The Work, have been serving the Lord since 1975 in collaboration with the Missionaries of Africa.

In his words of welcome, Father Frans Bouwen MAfr., an eyewitness of our arrival in 1975 and of the visit of Mother Julia in 1978, invited all present, to give thanks “for the person, the life and the witness of Mother Julia, as well as for the charism that the Lord gave to his Church through her person, mainly her love for the Church, her passion for unity and her readiness to serve wherever the Lord was calling her. Here at Saint Anne’s, together, we, Sisters, Fathers and Brothers, also want to thank God for the 47 years of our fruitful co-operation in many services and ministries.

We were honored and happy that, His Excellency Archbishop Adolfo Tito Yllana, Nuncio to Israel and Cyprus and Apostolic Delegate to Palestine and Jerusalem, accepted our invitation to preside the Mass. He had met our Community during his diplomatic service in Budapest, Hungary. Present at the Mass were as well: Bishop William Shomali, Patriarchal Vicar for Jerusalem and Palestine, most of the White Fathers living in St. Ann’s, the priests of the Autumn Bethesda Session and members of the Salesian Community of Ratisbonne in Jerusalem. Two Salesian deacons served at Mass together with two students of the Missionaries of Africa. Members of various religious communities attended Mass as well as other friends of our Community.

At the beginning of his homily, Archbishop Yllana, referring to the anniversary of Mother Julia’s Baptism, stressed the significance and the importance of Baptism: “Baptism is the watershed that divides purely earthly life, which is necessarily destined to die, and the "splendor of glory" to which the children of God are called. This truth enables me to understand that one of the profound intuitions of your charism is precisely that your call to holiness or sanctification in the Church is rooted in baptism. With this in mind today, we remember the anniversary of Mother Julia’s baptism 25 years after her death.”

Further on in his homily he shared with us the following invitation: “Especially in this land, holy and complex, where the Catholic apostolate is faced with so many limitations and challenges, I ask you to testify that the main thing, to collaborate in the redemption of Christ, is not ‘to do’, but ‘to be’. Remember what St. Pope Paul II wrote in his Apostolic Letter at the beginning of the Second Millennium, entitled ‘Novo Millennio Ineunte’: ‘Ours is a time of continual movement which often leads to restlessness, with the risk of ‘doing for the sake of doing’. We must resist this temptation by trying ‘to be’ before trying ‘to do’” (NMI, N.15). The first and most precious work remains personal sanctification and the adoration of God. This is why I invite you to continue and persevere in the practice of Eucharistic adoration, already dear to you: by kneeling, we return to the essentials of our life.
After Mass everyone was invited for a reception in the garden.

To all who contributed, in one way or another, to the beautiful liturgy and to the family atmosphere, we say a heartfelt “THANK YOU”.