History of the Catholic church in Kloosterburen

by: Halsema.org editors

The Eighty Years War that started in 1568 lead to a schism with Spain and the founding of the Dutch State. Thus came to an end the Catholic Religion as the most important religion in may parts of our country. In the province of Groningen, the Catholic religion was virtually wiped out in 1594, when the Spain was banished and Groningen joined the “Union of the Seven United Provinces”

With this action, called the “Reduction of Groningen”  came an “Act of Reduction”, wherein was stated that “within the Town and Country of Groningen no Religion may be practiced, except for the Reformed Religion”. With the Reformed Religion was meant the Dutch Reformed Church of today, which arose after the reformation.

Churches were taken over, priests robbed of their income and those who objected to the new religion were expelled. Catholics were being harassed in many ways. All kinds of judgments and ordinances battered the “papists” of Groningen.

Rome of course did not sit still by this. but it could not in any way budge the States-General, the body that governed the Republic of the Seven United Provinces. The only option was to declare the Republic missionary territory.

A Nuncio (papal representative) in Cologne oversaw the clergy still active in the Republic. In 1602 the nuncio appointed an apostolic vicar in Utrecht, who represented the pope. The vicar was the head of the “Dutch Mission”. He named archpriests who, depending on the number of faithful, were assigned a region where they would give guidance to priests still working there.

In 1608 Groningen was assigned an archpriest who directed the entire province. The local clergy was stationed in various staties (parishes). In the city of Groningen in the year 1702 there were, besides the archpriest, one pastor, one chaplain and six priests. There were then also staties in Den Hoorn, Bedum, Uithuizen and Appingedam.

This explains, why all our (catholic) ancestors of the 18th century are baptized either in Den Hoorn, Uithuizen, or Bedum. (I only found one relative in Appingedam)

There are several interesting stories about this age, such as the story about the users of the lands expropriated from abbeys and other religious houses; the writings of father Mijleman; the stories of secret conversions, such as that of Peter Rewijcx; the practice of holding secret religious services at such farms as Groot Halsum (near Kloosterburen) and the Papekop (near Uithuizen), and the story of the Van Halsemas.