Sunday, April 1, 2012


I recently came across an article in The Word Among Us about Jacqueline de Decker, Mother Teresa's "Spiritual Powerhouse."

The piece, by Kathryn Spink, begins "When I met Jacqueline de Decker, the Belgian woman whom Mother Teresa called her 'sick and suffering self,' she had her torso encased in a corset and wore a surgical collar round her neck."

The story tells how de Decker made her way from Belgium to India, hoping to work with Mother Teresa, but instead was forced by a chronic, debilitating illness back to Antwerp.

"By 1980, Jacqueline had undergone thirty-four operations for her illness, which was never given an official medical label. She called it GGD, or 'God-Given Disease'--her recognition that emptiness, 'failure,' and weakness were the means by which God used her."

From a site dedicated to canonizing Mother Teresa for her work with the missionaries of charity:  

From the beginning of her work, Mother Teresa welcomed and sought the help of lay persons. Eventually those attracted to her and her work formed a group called the Co-Workers of Mother Teresa. Coming from all religions, nations and walks of life, these men and women share in Mother Teresa’s aim to quench the thirst of God for love and souls by seeking to give Him their love and to bring His love to every person with whom they have contact, especially the poorest of the poor, and, above all, those most needy in their own families.

Jacqueline de Decker was a young Belgian social worker who in 1948, while on a “working” visit to India, was introduced to Mother Teresa. At the time, Mother Teresa was learning the rudiments of medical care from the Medical Mission Sisters in Patna, Bihar. The two were drawn to each other by a common love for Jesus and a desire to help the poor. Miss De Decker wanted to join Mother Teresa, but serious health problems prevented her. When Jacqueline returned to Belgium, Mother Teresa asked her to become her “second self,” that is, to be united with Mother Teresa as her spiritual sister, offering her sufferings to God for the sake of the poor. Jacqueline took up the task of promoting this apostolate of prayer and self-offering among the sick, linking each person who became a “Sick and Suffering Co-Worker” with an individual Missionary of Charity. Jacqueline De Decker died on Friday, April 3, 2009.

For information, contact:
Sick and Suffering Co-Workers
c/o Missionaries of Charity
Elisenstrasse 15
45139 Essen, Germany
Tel.: 49-201-235-641


Let's make our GGDs work for us--and others!


  1. God does not ask us to succeed -- only to love.

  2. Yes, indeed. James says, consider it pure joy... and LET (yield,allow) it do its perfect work, that you may become perfect (mature, complete).
    When trials and difficulties are offered to God and we yield sincerely to their work in us, we find (oh surprising joy!) that we are better at loving. Amazing grace!

  3. I just read your piece in Magnificat's Lenten Companion for today. Many I times I begin to read something and I immediately connect with the author. This happens before I read who the author is at the bottom of the piece. I am finding this happens now with your writings. Your blog today speaks of "suffering souls" who unite their trials with the bigger picture,redemption. As I begin Holy Week I ask for the grace to do just this. I am post abortive and work in the vineyards of many broken souls. I also ask for the grace to not try and disengage myself nail by nail from my Cross. Thanks Heather for sharing your gleanings.

  4. "What pleases Him is that He sees me loving my littleness and my poverty,the blind hope that I have in His mercy…

    That is my only treasure."

    -St. Therese

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