Meet Sister Mirjam and Sister Karin of The Spiritual Family The Work, a community of consecrated life who have played a very positive and active part in the life of the Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh since their arrival here in 2017.
“The two ‘pillars’ in our lives are adoration and unity,” explained Sister Mirjam, 8 February.
“It is important for us to build up unity wherever we live and work, in the Church and among all people of good will, we always strive to follow our Foundress's advice: 'May our whole life become an unending praise of God'."
The religious sisters – who are, in fact, biological siblings – hail from Heerlen in the Netherlands. For the past two years, however, they have resided in the parish of St Columba in Edinburgh’s Newington where they have established a new convent in the previously vacant parish house. Sister Karin works as a Parish Sister while Sister Mirjam is Secretary to Archbishop Leo Cushley, working from his office located at the nearby Gillis Centre.
“We are also both involved with sacramental preparation for children and youth and in young adult ministry generally, while we also regularly invite and welcome people to visit our convent so that they may experience the light and warmth of the Church – we are very grateful to be here and to be of service in this archdiocese!”
The Spiritual Family The Work – Familia Spiritualis Opus in Latin – was founded in 1938 by a Belgian woman, Mother Julia Verhaeghe (1910–97). It received its first ecclesial approval in 1959 and Papal approval in 2001.
The members are now active in more than 10 countries; in Europe, the United States and the Holy Land. The patron of The Work is Saint Paul and, fittingly, Archbishop Cushley offered Holy Mass upon the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul, 25 January, in the chapel of the sisters’ convent (pictured).
“Through the writings of Saint Paul, Mother Julia, Our Foundress, discovered the love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the mystery of the Church as the Body of Christ,” said Sister Karin.
“She followed the Lord’s call and gave her whole life in service to Christ and His Church – others have done the same after her. Saint Paul helps us to live our contemplative-apostolic mission in the midst of the world.”
As they do on all solemn liturgical occasions, the sisters donned their choir robes, complete with veil and crown of thorns.
“The Sacred Heart of Jesus is the centre of our spirituality. The love of The Sacred Heart forms us into a spiritual family,” explained Sister Mirjam.
“As a spiritual family, we seek to give witness to our love for the Church. We strive to help people grow and deepen their love for Christ and His Church.”