Short Life of
Charles was born John Andrew Houben on the 11th December 1821 in the village
of Munstergeleen, Holland. He was the fourth of a family of eleven children
born to Peter and Johanna Houben. The family background was simple and
Catholic with prayers morning and evening and children taught the Rosary.
They worked in a flour mill owned by their uncle.
John Andrew's childhood was nothing exceptional. He was shy, quiet, pious,
friendly and "always bright and cheerful in the family circle",
according to his brother. Even though he found study difficult, he walked
the two miles into secondary school in Sittard for ten years. He wanted
to be a priest and served Mass and visited the Church every day.
At nineteen, Andrew was enrolled for military service from 1840 to 1845
but only saw active service for three months. He was not an outstanding
soldier. He spent too much time in Church! While in the army, he first
heard of the Passionists and from that moment he decided to join them.
On returning home he worked in the mill by day and continued to study
but this time with greater ease. Troubles came, first with the death of
his uncle, who had taken a special interest in the family and then in
1844 his mother died at 52 years of age. With his military service completed
in 1845 Andrew, despite the initial reluctance of his father, joined the
Passionists at Ere, near Tournai, Belguim. As a student he was remembered
as cheerful and good-humoured and was ordained on Saturday December 21st
1850 in Tournai. His father had died in August of that year and none of
the family could make the journey for the celebrations.
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from Saint Charles during his life.
through his intercession after his death.