News from The Spiritual Family The Work

Mass of Thanksgiving and Book Launch at Littlemore Oxford, Saturday 17 September 2022

The parish of Bl. Dominic Barberi, Littlemore, Oxford, was the place of celebration of Thanksgiving for the life of Mother Julia Verhaeghe, Foundress of The Spiritual Family The Work, to mark the 25th anniversary of her death which occurred on 29th August 1997, the same week as the death of Princess Diana.

Back in 1986, Mother Julia was delighted that the sisters of The Work were invited by the Fathers of the Birmingham Oratory to come to live at The College Littlemore to nourish Newman’s legacy, to welcome pilgrims to The College and to support the life of the Catholic parish.

It was therefore a particular joy for the parish and the sisters that Fr Pat Armstrong, who was parish priest at the time of the sisters’ arrival in Littlemore, Fr John Hancock, his successor, and Fr Zbigniew Zieba, the current parish priest, were present to concelebrate the Mass of Thanksgiving. Fr Filip Van Damme FSO, superior of the Priests’ Community of The Work in Rome, was the main celebrant and preacher.

Before the Mass, the book by Fr Hermann Geissler FSO, She Served the Church - Mother Julia Verhaeghe and the Development of The Spiritual Family The Work, was launched in the parish hall. This book is the second volume of the life of Mother Julia and the community of The Work and its charism, covering the period from 1950 till 2001.

A talk about the content of the book and in particular about the spiritual kinship between Mother Julia and St John Henry Newman was given. The part of the book describing the arrival of the sisters of The Work at Littlemore was also read. This contained Mother Julia’s precious words of encouragement to the sisters living at The College: “The beautiful photo of your chapel gave me particular pleasure. May the chapel remain the heart of your house, the place where He receives you in audience, where the Lord always remains with you, welcomes you with pleasure, and listens to you! Go there sometimes to rest for a while without words, to show him your love and loyalty: with one another, for one another and for all whom he wants to entrust to your motherhood.”

Three people who had met Mother Julia during her lifetime spoke about their personal encounters with her. All present received a bookmark with these words of Mother Julia: “Dare to live in the peace of faith, trust in God’s providence, and serve with love and gratitude.”

For more information about Mother Julia and the book She served the Church please contact the sisters, via email [email protected] or call 01865 779743, who always have a warm welcome for you at Littlemore.