The Birth of the Society of J.M.J in Holland

Consequent upon the French Revolution, practice of Catholic faith in public had been prohibited in Holland. The Catholics were subjected to petty supervisions, and very severe anti-Catholic laws were passed concerning schools and education in general.

There was no freedom for Catholics to organize church activities, for religious community living, to establish Catholic schools etc. Catholics did not dare to come out openly, even when the Constitution of the country guaranteed freedom in 1814.

He founded the JMJ Congregation to impart Christian education to catholic girls, a dire need of the Church of his time. His undaunted courage, strong faith, unshakable trust in the Divine Providence, the determination to work like a giant with the powerful weapons of prayer and asceticism, positive outlook to life and its realities and challenges enabled Father Wolff, to leave a lasting legacy of availability and hard work to his followers.

The First Sisters

The growth of the Society of J.M.J

The first three girls Maria Stichters (Sr. Mathia Stichters), Sophie Miltner (Sr. Rosalie Miltner) and Lubuina van Elck (Sr. Lubuina van Elck) were sent to Ghent in Belgium to the Sisters of Notre Dame to be trained in Religious life, but, under the direction of Fr. Mathias Wolff, as his plan from the start was for a separate Congregation. Between 1820 and 1821 four more Candidates presented themselves and joined the little group at Ghent, taking the names, Sr. Cunnera, Sr. Boniface, Sr. Willibrorda and Sr. Antonia. Among these; Sr. Antonia died after six months of noviciate. On her death bed she was allowed to make her vows. Fr. Wolff called her the first advocate of his Congregation.

The first JMJ School in Amersfoort

'Pedagogie Chretienne' (Christian Education)

In 1822 three more new Candidates presented themselves - viz Maria Werkhoven, Christina Dubois and Jeanette Pijpers. Finally Fr. Wolff took the important decision and founded the new Congregation, named 'Pedagogie Chretienne' (Christian Education) on 29th July 1822, in Culemborg. However, on June 24th 1823, a house was hired in Amersfoort in the name “Miss Werkhoven” which was used for six years and the nuns were known as ‘Miss' and not ‘Sister' as the protestant ruling party was not in favour of sisters. Here our first institution the Charity School was opened and sisters started teaching. Amersfoort was then the first Mother House of the Society of JMJ.

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