Birthday of Our Congregational Founder, Father John Lambertz – February 8
Today, February 8th, is the birthday of our Congregational Founder, Father John Lambertz. The Mass for our Prayer Enrollment Intentions was celebrated this morning at St. William the Abbot Church in Seaford, NY. We also wish a very happy birthday to Sr. Mary Lou Tressy, OSU.
We are blessed to share with you this reflection on the birthday of Father John Lambertz by Sr. Laurentine Morgan, OSU:
Father John Lambertz
Founder of the Ursuline Sisters of Tildonk
In January we celebrated the feast of Saint Angela Merici, our beloved “Madre”, founder of the Order of Saint Ursula, also known as Ursulines, in 1535 Brescia, Italy. On February 8, one Congregation of Sisters within the great family of the Ursuline Order celebrates the birthday of the Reverend John Lambertz, founder of the Ursuline Sisters of the Congregation of Tildonk.
John Cornelius Martin Lambertz was born in Hoogstraten, a town in the province of Antwerp, on February 8, 1785. At the time, the place we now know as Belgium was not yet a country, but a territory under the authority of Holland. This was a turbulent time leading to hostilities, great financial burdens, religious persecutions, deep hatreds, and great moral decay, a result of the aftermath of the French Revolution that permeated much of Europe.
In 1812, as a newly ordained priest, John Lambertz was appointed as the parochial vicar at the Tildonk parish of Saint John the Baptist. Thus began his lifelong journey of service, not only to the local people of the village of Tildonk, but in time stretching across the neighboring countries of Holland, Germany, England and eventually across the globe.
As a priest, John Lambertz was an exemplary example of simplicity, humility, and kindness with unfailing faith, qualities that attracted others to him and therefore to his mission – to make God known and loved. This became his life’s work. Recognizing the extreme effects that this tumultuous time had on his parishioners, Father Lambertz set about helping to improve the conditions that touched their lives. He started simply. The needs of the parish were such that he discerned it would be best to begin by doing something for the youth of the parish who were badly in need of both nutritional and spiritual nourishment. With the simple, humble assistance of three young women, Father Lambertz embarked on a mission to nourish the young members of the parish with what was needed for the health of both body and soul: providing food and spiritual instruction to assist them in moving forward with their lives. Thus, the embryo of what was to develop into the Congregation of the Ursuline Sisters of Tildonk was conceived.
John Lambertz was a man with a contemplative heart. He searched for God by seeking him through his prayer, through his work and through his relationships with others. His spirituality founded on “Love” grounded in simplicity, humility, and kindness while energized by prayer, fasting and sacrifice was profoundly genuine. His personal experience of coming to know God as “Love” generated an inner desire to share that experience with others. This compelled him to spend his entire priesthood in maintaining his union with God, while the divine energy of that union carried the experience of God’s love to others. This became his life’s mission – making God known and loved as he had come to know and love God.
Father John Lambertz, after laboring untiringly for more than 50 years as a priest and pastor of his little parish, died May 12, 1869 in Tildonk, Belgium. His life, spirituality and charism continue to inspire, influence and challenge who we are as Ursuline Sisters and Associates of Tildonk today.
Laurentine Morgan, osu
Feb. 8, 2021