FOUNDER- REV. FR. JOHN CORNEILLE-MATIN LAMBERTZ
Rev. Fr. John Corneille- Matin Lambertz was born at Hoogstraten, Belgium, on February 8th, 17th85. His birthplace, which is now noted for a seminary of some six hundred students and a large Ursuline convent and School, was, in those days, at town of small account, though it could boast of an historic past. In 1740 Marie Therese of Austria had raised it to the rank of a Duchy. Previous to this the town had been taken under the special protection and care of the Counts of Lalaing, who were excellent Catholics, and most generous in their gifts. They spread nothing to enhance the beauty of Hoogstraeten. In 1550 they built the magnificent church that still stands, and furnished it with stained-glass windows, valuable paintings and statuary, and many other objects of real artistic value.
Comparatively little is known of his antecedents. His grandfather, on the fatherís side, had settled in Hoogstraeten in 1930, and the registers notify his marriage in 1735 to Elisabeth Doms. Their son John, father of the Cureí of Thildonck, was born in 1738, and lived all his life at Hoogstraeten, where he filled responsible positions on the municipal council of the town. In 1769 he married Mare Therese Van Ael, and God blessed this union with eight children of whom the subject of this biography was the seventh.
Lamberts were baptized in the church of his native town, on the day of his birth. His mother, Madame Lambertz, was a woman of high principles and strong character, with serious ideas of her responsibilities as wife and mother. She lived for her home and her children, whom she imbued for from earliest infancy with the earnest religious sentiments that dominated her own life. It was her custom to fast every Friday in memory of the Sacred Passion, and her spirit of prayer raised her daily duties to a high spiritual level. Gently and earnestly she strove to enkindle in the hearts of her little ones a tender, personal love of our Lord, and her words a bore abundant fruit. Two of her sons became priests, while among her grandchildren are found seven priests and five nuns. Lambertz natural gentleness of character made him a favorite with his mother, who, he worshiped, and to whom he confided al his childish troubles and anxieties. From her he had no secrets, and life flowed on calmly and happily until he was ten years of age, when to the intense grief of the whole family this admirable mother died. Three years later, on April, 21st, 1797, the boy made his first Communion in the Parish church of Hoogstraeten. The deep devotion to our Lady implanted in his heart by his saintly mother now came to his aid. John Lambertz had his name enrolled in the confraternity of the Holy Roasary; he then confided his hopes to Mary, Mother of God, and felt sure of her aid.
Lambertzís relation with Christ became deeper and deeper. He grew up in Christian faith strong and strong. He acquired the virtue of Christ Jesus in his life. He was noted for his good temper, great kindness, self-forgetfulness and spirit of prayer. As already noted, the exigencies of the times called for His followers, at last came the longed-for day which was to crown all his hopes. It was March 14, 1812 that saw Lambertz raised to the Priesthood of Tildonck by Monseigneur Van Velde de Melroy, Bishop of Ruremonde.
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