Refuge of Sinners Detail of the Pedagogie Chretienne from 1825.

A portrait of the Pedagogie Chretienne

The establishment was known under different secular names in the beginning, as the then Dutch Government had an intolerant attitude towards Religious – “Miss Van Werkhoven”, “Pedagogie Christienne” (Christian Education) and it was as “Pedagogie Christienne” the Society got its approbation, on 10th June, 1823. Later the Congregation was also known as “Sisters of the Blessed Virgin” “Mary” and eventually the “Society of Jesus Mary Joseph”. This last name remained for our Congregation.

Christian Education for Rich & Poor

Religious at heart but lay women outside

By March 1824, there were eight sisters, Religious at heart, but just young lay women for the outside world. They chose a simple secular dress and lived a very simple life. The poor children received education free of charge. The boarding facilities gave the girls better chances for suitable training and education. This accounts for their getting appreciation and acceptance and hence the needed approval to develop the Education Apostolate.

It was the proud privilege and solemn moment for our Founder to accept the vows of these first eight members on 8th June 1824. It must have been a day of glory for him. For sometime the Society had rapid growth with more and more new members and newer establishments. Unfortunately for the Congregation, there was a great set back due to the lack of Religious Spirit in the first Superior General, Mother Mathia Stichters. In fact, a few left the Society, a few were sent away and some did not get admittance into the Society.

Consequent to this blow, the Society had just 5 members left as several had left or were sent away or they went away on their own. The first Superior General was asked to discontinue as JMJ, and Mother Clara Lantman was elected as the next Superior General. The mother house was shifted from Amersfoort to Engelen and the JMJ Society had to be revived in a better set up.

Captains that Steered the Ship

Very soon the Congregation spread out to the whole of the Netherlands under the leadership of different Superiors General - Mother Clara Lantman, Mother Adriana Pijpers and Mother Seraphine Pullens, in spite of the many odds they had to face from different angles.

The needs were varied and so was the availability of the Congregation and its members. Together with extending their services to the education of girls, which was their priority, apostolates like Health Care, Geriatrics, Schools for mentally retarded, physically handicapped, blind, deaf and dumb and the like, were taken up as and when the need arose, and the requests came from the Bishops of the Diocese.

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