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source of living water | back home again in indonesia - Fraters

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Mission statement

Mercy belongs to all times and places.

Mercy is at the centre of all world religions:

Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity

and Islam.

The movement of mercy has left traces

throughout history.

The various forms in which mercy appears,

are expressions of the society in which it arose,

and of the spirituality that carries it.

The Congregation of the Brothers of Our Lady,

Mother of Mercy, is rooted in Christian mercy.


Brothers CMM {formerly Ontmoetingen (Encounters)}

is a quarterly publication of the Congregation of the

Brothers of Our Lady, Mother of Mercy (Brothers CMM).

A subscription is free of charge (available on request at

the address below). ISSN 1877-6256

Editorial Board: Mr. Rien Vissers (editor in chief),

Br. Edward Gresnigt, Br. Ad de Kok, Br. Lawrence

Obiko, Br. Ronald Randang, Br. Jan Smits, Mr. Peter

van Zoest (executive editor)

Translation: Mr. Bas van Alphen, Br. Edward

Gresnigt, Mr. Peter Huybers, Fr. Jan van

der Kaa AA, Mr. Tony Verhallen

Original design and layout: Heldergroen






Franciscan Kolbe Press, Limuru,

Kenya, press@ofmconvkenya.org

Brothers CMM, Rhapta Road, P.O.Box

14916 Nairobi, Westlands 00800, Kenya



A voluntary contribution to meet the costs

of the magazine is appreciated: ING Bank

Account 106 85 17 for Fraters CMM Tilburg.

For international transfer, please use:

IBAN: NL30INGB0001068517


Photograph front: Flashmob in Eindhoven. Sint-Joris College

supports Brothers CMM in Kenya (see page 18).

The Prodigal Son, Rembrandt.

Photograph back: Eib Lake, Germany (photo: Brother Ad de Kok).










At the time when the Dutch version of Brothers

CMM was published young people had come

together in Tilburg, The Netherlands. A hundred

people from countries where the brothers work

had arrived from Brazil, Indonesia, Kenya, Namibia,

The Netherlands, Tanzania, and East Timor. From

August 5 through August 13 they prepared for the

Catholic World Youth Days, which were held in

Madrid, Spain, from August 16 through August 22.

As ‘Ambassadors of Worldwide Brotherhood’ they,

each in their own way, continue to radiate the

charisma of the Brothers CMM. The previous World

Youth Days in Sydney, Australia, from July 15

through July 21, 2008, inspired the Brothers CMM

to launch the ambassador programme, which has

as its goal to inspire the youth and build in them

the desire to commit themselves to a worldwide

‘movement of mercy and brotherhood’. The next

issue will report extensively the ambassadors’

activities. This Brothers CMM issue describes the

proceedings of the final preparations by the

Brazilian ambassadors. In addition to that account,

the reader will find again many ‘news in brief’

items from the Congregation’s world, which

becomes increasingly more international. It is

noteworthy to see so many reports here about

meetings where participants reflect on the identity

of religious life. It happened at a gathering in

Rome of superiors general, at an assembly of

brothers under temporary vows in Indonesia and

even during a retreat for young people. In short:

religious life continues to be in motion. We know

that ‘water standing still, goes bad’. The same can

be said about religious life. Therefore, mercy and

brotherhood must be ever in motion.






YIELDS €40.000,-
















On July 1, Doctor Annelies van Heijst delivered a speech when she formally accepted the position of professor

at the University of Tilburg, The Netherlands in the field of ‘Zorg, Cultuur en Caritas’ (Care giving, Culture, and

Charity). She stressed the importance of empathy for the care giving services in Dutch society. It sounds like

a rather unusual subject for a professor who tends to focus on detached scientific research. One would think

that the topic of compassion does not quite belong in the scientific world. And the word is not a familiar one; it

remains a rather aloof concept.

The professor argued that caregivers must pay

more attention to compassion in the care for their

patients. She expressed concern about the increased

professionalization with its growing rules and regulations.

It induces the danger that personal attention for the

patient moves into the background or even disappears.

One often hears this complaint. Professor van Heijst

advocates a more ‘loving’ style of care giving where

people take pity on the helplessness of their fellowmen,

are sensitive to their needs, and provide care with

tender compassion. Her plea dovetails with one of the

key concepts of the Congregation’s spirituality: mercy.

Compassion in care giving implies increased attention

to ‘mercy’. Actually, we deal with a basic grounding that

inspires the work we do and guides us in the way we

approach and treat others. The temptation lurks in

each of us to reduce the other into an object and

misuse him or her to satisfy our own needs. Working

with the attitude of compassion, from the perspective

of mercy, fights such temptation and it is good to be

reminded of that. During the weekend that followed

Annelies van Heijst’s speech, it was my turn to present

a reflective meditation at the Generalate. My talk focused

on the word ‘humility’, which is not exactly a common

word either. We also think of the word ‘humble’ in this

context. In the gospel we read that Jesus in those days’

approached people ‘in meekness and humbleness of

heart’. A demeanor of humbleness appears to me to be

the most important attitude in care giving. The person in

need does not have to lower himself or herself in asking

for help. Instead, we humble ourselves and respond

respectfully to the person who asks for help. We place

the other in the centre of attention, not ourselves.

It would be a good thing if the training programme for the

caregiver would pay more attention to the need of mercy

and compassion and promote a basic posture of humility.

Actually this need is not restricted to care giving alone …

Brother Broer Huitema




Brother Andreas was a ‘languages man’. Not a day would pass that he would speak at least four of them. He

worked at the school, the Ruwenberg, which was bilingual. A rule strictly prescribed when Dutch and when

French was to be spoken. Brother Andreas had a certificate of proficiency in both French and German. He

knew these languages very well. He also participated in the communal prayers, which were mostly in Latin.

His fellow-brothers envied him for the ease with which

he could switch from one language to the other. Many

encountered difficulties with the language rule. As by a

stroke of good luck a talented and patient fellow-brother

lived among them. This explains why so many remembered

Brother Andreas as ‘the languages man’. We know that he

wrote specific words and short stories in a small notebook

so he wouldn’t forget them. He loved puns. He was a

fervent translator and could spend days being frustrated

by an untranslatable word or phrase and kept searching

until he found a precise rendition for it. Brother Andreas

loathed translation errors and all sins that are committed

against the rules of the language.

The fact that the brothers at the Ruwenberg had to

be proficient in two languages logically could cause

various problems. Younger brothers who did not speak

the required language could feel isolated. They would lack

sufficient knowledge of the language to be able to express

their feelings clearly. A little anecdote shows Brother

Andreas’ sensitivity to such communication problems and

his ability to resolve them. A young brother, supervising a

group of students for the priesthood during the afternoon

break, caught one of the boys misbehaving. He went

to Brother Andreas to ask how he should punish the

culprit. The incident took place during a time period when

brothers and students were required to speak French.

Brother Andreas listened patiently to the young excited

brother and said: “Tell me again, but this time do it in

Dutch. I believe you came on too strong in French.”

Brother Andreas showed that besides finding ‘the right

word’ one must also find ‘the right attitude’ behind

that word. The switching from one language to another

can become an internal change: from resentment to

forgiveness, from anger to mercy, from seeing things in

the human way to seeing them in God’s way.

Charles van Leeuwen

One of the oldest photographs of Brother Andreas

(seated, third from the right) at the Ruwenberg.



kort nieuws




Religious worldwide encounter large unprecedented social and cultural changes, which force them to revisit

their identity and their prophetic call. 180 male and female superior generals from religious orders and

congregations throughout the world drew this conclusion during a meeting in Rome from May 25-27, 2011.

Brother Broer Huitema, Superior General of the Brothers

CMM, and Ronald Randang, a General Board-member,

participated in the semiannual Conference of Major

Superiors (USG). They spent three days in deliberation

and reflection on the prophetic nature of religious life.

They took as the theme for these consultations:

‘The identity and prophetic quality of the apostolic,

consecrated life’. The superiors discussed various

topics, which included globalization, secularization,

consumerism, technological advances, but their

emphasis was on the future of religious life.

‘Signs of the Time’

Pascual Chávez SDB, Superior General of the Salesians

of Don Bosco and Chairman of the USG, emphasized

during the gathering that the witness of the religious is

at the heart of a long tradition of the consecrated life.

“But at the same time religious must be sensitive to the

signs of the time”, he added. The American Sister Mary

Lou Wirtz FCJM, Superior General of the Daughters of

the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary and President of

the International Union of Superior Generals, declared:

“Religious life faces great challenges as it searches for a

new identity and a new awareness in a changing world.”

She emphasized that the religious are challenged to be

a more powerful witness, to work efficiently with one

another, and involve the laity more with their mission.

Peter van Zoest

(Source: kerknet.be)

Pascual Chávez SDB,

President of the

Conference of Major Superiors.




‘Extended care’ directs its concerns to the chronically ill, the disabled, and those who need assistance. Often

companions provide this care. They are the ones with whom the patients have a personal bond: family members,

friends, acquaintances, and neighbours. The care typically requires long-lasting service without compensation.

In the CMM communities we also see extended care at work. Henk van de Wal, Associate Member of the

Brothers CMM, works at the Joannes Zwijsen residential care facility in Tilburg, The Netherlands, where the

brothers have a community. He wrote the following report.

In earlier times elderly people lived in their own homes as

long as possible. Their children attended to them and took

care of them. New developments, increasing prosperity,

and the fact that more people are needed to support

the economic progress promoted the increase in nursing

homes and convalescent homes for the elderly and the

needy. Government imposes increasing austerity measures

and these homes have to do the work with less money

and therefore a reduced staff. To still provide the clients

with the necessary care and recreation, appeals are made

increasingly to family or acquaintances: the long-term

care givers.

Extra attention

At the residential care facility Joannes Zwijsen in Tilburg,

where a community of elderly brothers resides, more

requests are made for people who can provide extended

care. Brothers take wheelchair bound fellow-brothers

to the chapel, the dining room, or the living room. They

provide assistance during meals or at the nursing ward,

where two brothers live. At the living quarters of another

nursing ward brothers are constantly engaged, especially

during the peak hours when the staff members work hard

to help everyone get ready for bed. Some brothers from

within as well as from outside the community visit fellowbrothers

who need extra attention.

A three-day walk

The increase of elderly brothers brings growing problems.

It becomes more and more difficult to find extensive care

providers within the community at Joannes Zwijsen itself.

The residential care centre organized a ‘Three-day walk’

for May 24, 25, and 26. People using wheelchairs were

invited to participate. The brothers in the community

faced a shortage of ‘helping hands’. They appealed to the

brothers who do not live in their community for assistance

and participate as companions. Six brothers confined to

a wheelchair could now participate because six brothers

Picture of the

three-day walk

in Tilburg.

from the communities of Joannes Zwijsen,

De Vuurhaard, and the Generalate assisted them. The walk

through the city of Tilburg lasted two hours. It gave the

participants an opportunity to be outside and break out

of their routine. During the walk the participants took a

break for a cup of coffee or tea, a sausage roll or some ice

cream. Those who attended ended the annual ‘Three-day

walk’ in a festive way. In a sociable gathering they sang

under the accompaniment of an accordionist and received

roses and well-deserved pennants.

‘Attentive care’

Attention for one another, care for our fellow-brothers

manifests the CMM spirituality. The Constitutions state:

“We express the love which reigns among us in a special

way by concerned care for our sick, aged and less

able-bodied fellow-brothers” (Constitutions I, 91).

We must keep in mind the question in Genesis 4:9:

“Am I my brother’s keeper?”, to make it possible that

others can appreciate our concern and experience it:

“like a mantle wrapped around me, so is my God …”

(cf. Huub Oosterhuis).

Henk van de Wal


NEWS kort IN nieuws BRIEF



At the occasion of his golden anniversary on August 29,

2010, Brother Henrique Matos started in Portuguese the

publication of the three volume book: A Religious in the

Changing Times. The last volume appeared in early 2011.

He describes the radical changes in society, church and

religious life that took place during his life. The wellknown

Brazilian theologian João Batista Libanio S.J.

recently wrote a review about the publications in a

Church History magazine and in a theological periodical.

He calls the work “the author’s hymn of gratitude” and

motivates it with the following reasons: “He who

received so much goodness and love, wants to give this

back with love to his family, friends and students and

thereby be a witness to the mercy of God. Brother

Henrique writes about the great debt he owes to his

family, his Congregation and important persons who are

responsible for his intellectual and spiritual development

and of his understanding of religious life.”


On May 20, the brothers and associate members in

The Netherlands met for a CMM Province Afternoon

in the residential care facility Joannes Zwijsen in Tilburg.

In his welcome address Brother Jan Koppens, the

Provincial Superior, stated that it was important for an

aging community to keep the communal bonds strong

and to continue to invest in each other. Jesus and Mary

are here the classic examples: “In the interactions

between Jesus and his disciples, in the manner in which

He cared about people, especially the marginalized,

He shows us what matters: to be a brother or sister

of the real person you encounter. In that situation,

you yourself are not that important, definitely not

Brother Isaac Majoor.

the centre, but you are invited to be or become the

neighbour of the person you meet. Such a meeting

becomes a time of grace.” And about Mary: “She serves,

is straightforward, pays attention to other people’s

needs, stays faithful - also when suffering - and

nourishes herself inside the community through silence

and prayer.” The Trappist monk Isaac Majoor, Prior of

the Abbey of Our Lady of Koningshoeven in Berkel-

Enschot and co-director of Beer Brewery De

Koningshoeven, was invited to speak about the theme

‘Brotherhood in an aging community’. Reflecting on his

own experience as a ‘young’ 59 year old religious in an

aging community of seventeen monks, he held up

a mirror to those present. Contrary to the business

community or society, religious people continue to

‘stay involved’. This also means sharing each other’s

ups and downs. He pointed out that the Congregation

accomplished much in The Netherlands and far beyond.

But the reality is now that older brothers have to live

together with fellow-brothers they have not chosen.

The challenge is to remain authentic persons under

these new conditions and, based on the religious

tradition of mercy and brotherhood, keep high the

ideals of forgiveness and reconciliation in the daily

life of the community. “For a brother to live a life

of mercy it is essential to have an inner attitude of

forgiveness and reconciliation”, says Brother Isaac.



With the World Youth Day (Sydney, 15-21 July 2008) in

mind, the Congregation set up an ‘Ambassadors’ Project’

in countries where the brothers are working to motivate

young people to commit themselves to a worldwide

‘movement of mercy and brotherhood’. In preparation of

the project a meeting of all ambassadors was held in

2008 in Tomohon on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.

This year the ambassadors get together in Tilburg prior

to the World Youth Days in Madrid (16-22 August 2011).

The ambassadors will prepare themselves under the

motto: ‘Jesus, our compass, our road to compassion’.

In Brazil, Indonesia, Kenya, Namibia, The Netherlands,

Tanzania and East Timor preparations for the

international meeting have been completed.

The fourteen Brazilian ambassadors came together

in Janaúba from April 21 to 23, under the leadership

of the Brothers Adriano van den Berg, Albertus Geroda

and Mr. Evemar Gomez, one of the ambassadors in

Sydney. The parable of the Good Samaritan was the

central theme. The meeting began with the celebration

of the Eucharist on Holy Thursday, after which the group

reflected on the action of Jesus, who in all humility

washed his disciples’ feet. The morning of Good Friday

was set aside for a reflection on the suffering of Jesus.

A presentation of some of the activities on the topic of

brotherhood and sisterhood assisted the young people in

their reflection on Jesus’ humility and his unconditional

love. At the seminary of Janaúba they made the Way of

the Cross, followed by the Veneration of the Cross.

Saturday morning was kept free for some recreation and

fun. There was time for a swim in the natural lake near

the dam of Janaúba and some good food afterwards.

Brazilian ambassadors with their leaders: in the middle Brother Adriano van den Berg and sitting

on the left beside him Brother Albertus Geroda.




Associate Member Lex van der Poel presided at a retreat for the Joannes Zwijsen community in Tilburg from

11-13 April. Her reflections were composed around the theme: ‘Elijah, a human being like us’. With the aid of the

Book of Kings participants followed the life of Elijah. Meeting Yahweh on Mount Horeb radically changed his life.

During Holy Week, 17-20 April, Brother Jan Koppens, CMM Provincial of The Netherlands, presented the retreat

for the brothers in Zonhoven, Belgium. The Sisters SCMM, who live in the same house, were also present at the

reflections which he based on the central theme of ‘Brotherhood’. He emphasized that in spite of greying, religious

within their community and close surroundings continue to have a vocation and a mission. After each reflection

a text was given to all for quiet reading and meditation.



On June 9, during the ‘National Hospitality Care Event’

in Ede the annual ‘stars’ were announced. More than

200 care providers – hospitals, care and nursing homes,

GGZ institutions and care restaurants – took part in

the event entitled: ‘Hospitality Care with Stars 2011’.

Tilburg’s residential care facility Joannes Zwijsen

collected three stars out of a maximum score of four.

Members of the jury noted “that priests, brothers,

sisters and the laity are living together under one roof

in a new house with tranquil, wide and well lit corridors

and a magnificent chapel”. The combination of religious

life and ordinary life “has been given here a unique form

and shape”, they judged. The restaurant manages flexible

opening times and offers copious good quality buffet


‘Joannes Zwijsen’ was built more than two and a half

years ago on the site right next to the Generalate of

CMM, which used to be the location of the former

residential care facility for religious dating back to 1974.

The modern complex for both religious and lay people

offers comprehensive care, treatment and services

for elderly under one roof. The CMM community

‘Joannes Zwijsen’ has found a home there. The religious

background of the centre finds expression in e.g. the

chapel with its pleasant atmosphere and stained glass

windows. The place where the residents come together

is called ‘De Refter’ (Refectory). This is the place for

larger gatherings and activities. It also functions as

the restaurant. Meals can be ordered à la carte.

Residents can call on a variety of forms of care, from

home assistance to very intensive 24/7 nursing care.

The setup is such that residents can remain where

they are even if their need for care intensifies.

Residential care facility ‘Joannes Zwijsen’, in Tilburg.



Fountain on the Janiculum Hill in Rome, next to the church of St’Onofrio,

overlooking the city.


‘Civita Youth Camp’ is a reflection centre for young people in the Indonesian capital Jakarta. Brother Donatus

Naikofi was one of the people who accompanied a youth group that was making their retreat at the centre.

The days of reflection taught them to look with new eyes at their vocation to the religious life.

The name ‘Civita’ has been carefully chosen.

‘Ci’ means water and ‘vita’ means life: Living water.

On the estate of Civita Youth Camp water bubbles up

filling a large pond. It is a source of life for lots of fish,

trees, birds and people who want to enjoy the refreshing

surroundings of the fountain.


In the Civita Youth Camp thousands of youngsters from

varying backgrounds come to make their retreat.

They feel totally accepted, appreciated and respected

as human beings created by God. The retreat programme

was aimed at spiritual deepening, with as starting point

the idea that the participants would be given space to

get to know themselves better. Experiences, positive

as well as negative, were shared. The openness to one

another made it possible to get rid of negativity and

to learn to bring light to one’s neighbour. I myself

discovered that the motivation for my vocation needed

to be purified and deepened. During the retreat I made

a start with just that by saying only those things I fully

supported in my life.

nets into deep water. That ‘deep water’ is a symbol of

the dark depths in ourselves. When you start ‘fishing’

deeper into yourself you come across unsuspected,

sometimes frightening or hard to understand things.

Still, you can delve into that adventure with confidence,

because Jesus is there in the boat with you. You don’t

have to be scared when the negative in yourself pops up

out of the water. That’s what happened to Peter and he

felt so sinful and unworthy that he wanted to break off

his contact with Jesus. A similar feeling can overwhelm

us too, but when we listen well, we too can hear Jesus

telling us: “Do not be afraid. From now on you will be

catching men.”

Civita has meant a great deal to me. I experienced

the source of living water there and my life has been

refreshed. The retreat opened to me the word of Mary,

Our Lady, Mother of Mercy: “Behold the handmaid of

the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”

(Lk 1:38). Hopefully the source of living water in myself

can also become a refreshing stream for others.

Brother Donatus Naikofi

‘Be not afraid’

The story from the Gospel of St Luke (5:1-11) about

Peter, who was asked to throw out his nets into deep

water after a failed catch, touched both myself and

the young people. Jesus invited Peter to throw out his





From the end of the nineteenth century dozens of Dutch brothers lived and worked in overseas missions. Many

became so attached to the land they were sent to, that it became their new fatherland. They didn’t want to live

anywhere else. One of them was Brother Ludolf Bulkmans (1907-2000). He loved Indonesia with heart and soul.

Brother Pieter-Jan van Lierop who worked in Indonesia for many years, describes how Brother Ludolf was forced

to leave the country and how miraculously he could return again.

Soon after the creation of the Republic of Indonesia it was

laid down by law that a principal of a school had to be an

Indonesian citizen. Immediately the brothers who were

school principals applied for this citizenship, which at that

time was still easy to obtain. Brother Bulkmans was not

yet in charge of a school and remained a Dutch citizen.

This he came to regret later because in the 1950’s it was

decided that all teachers had to be Indonesian citizens.

Brother Ludolf, to whom teaching meant so much and who

was completely at home at his station in Manado, North

Sulawesi, had to leave the school. He presented himself

for naturalization and shortly after he successfully passed

the exam for state citizenship. It was now up to President

Soekarno to sign the naturalization papers. That took years.

Very painful farewell

His fellow-brother, Brother Florenciano Janssens, teacher

of Biology at the senior secondary school in Manado,

met the same fate as Brother Ludolf. He was supposed

to repatriate, but he was luckier than his colleague.

At its foundation the Medical Faculty of the State

University of Manado badly needed a qualified lecturer in

Biology. Based on his knowledge and experience Brother

Florenciano received a diploma which allowed him to

become a lecturer for a while. He was sorely needed.

For some years he enjoyed working at the Department

of Medicine. After his naturalization he returned to

the senior secondary school of the brothers, where he

became the principal. Brother Ludolf was home a great

deal; he was bored and from time to time performed

some small jobs in school and in the parish. In the end

it was decided that Brother Ludolf would repatriate on

7 February 1961 in order to go to Surinam, which to him

was a new missionary area. It was a very painful farewell.

For thirty years he had given his very best to

the Indonesian youth; he had survived four years of

cruelty and inhumanity at a Japanese concentration

camp; after that together with his fellow-brothers,

he rebuilt the destroyed brothers’ schools

Brother Ludolf Bulkmans.


Brother Ludolf sitting second from right. Six

religious priests and four brothers visiting the

Americans, shortly after the liberation.

Brother Ludolf with his family during a break in 1947.

The Dean of Etten-Leur is giving a speech in his honour.


Mid August 1961, after only a few months in The

Netherlands, a miracle happened. Brother Ludolf was

belatedly admitted to become an Indonesian citizen. He

had to present himself to an Indonesian court judge to

complete the process. But right then Holland had no

diplomatic relations with Indonesia because of arguments

about New Guinea. Brother Ludolf then turned to the

Indonesian Embassy in Bonn, where the process (of his

naturalization) could be finalized.

On 12 September 1961, in the presence of a consular

agent and two witnesses he declared the solemn oath on

the Indonesian Constitution to obey all Indonesian laws

and to acknowledge no other state authority than that of

the Republic of Indonesia. Half an hour later he received

his Indonesian passport.

On September 14 he was able to fly from Germany to

Bangkok and from there with another plane to Jakarta.

He received a very warm welcome by families he knew

and by the brothers where he was staying. On 7 October

he firmly set foot in his old location of Manado.

Home at last!!

Brother Pieter-Jan van Lierop

Brother Ludolf Bulkmans with students during a

bicycle tour through the mountains near Manado.





On May 18, the twice-yearly meeting of the Dutch Vincentian Family took place in the auditorium of

‘Mater Misericordiae’ of the Sisters SCMM, in Tilburg. The programme had been put together by a steering

committee consisting of Sister Renée Geurts SCMM, Brother Wim Luiten FIC and Brother Ad de Kok CMM.

The first speaker was the Vincentian Father Wiel

Bellemakers, who gave an overview of the growth of

the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity. Taking into

account in a creative, inventive way the laws of Church

and State, Vincent de Paul managed to obtain official

recognition for a new form of religious life. Father

Bellemakers challenged the fifty participants to deal

with the social and economic needs of today in the

same way and with the same creativity as did

Vincent de Paul in his days.

‘You are precious’

The next three speakers showed how they were

deeply moved by the poverty they experienced in their

immediate surroundings, engulfed as they are in the

Vincentian spirituality. Harrie Kiwitz, president of the

food bank in Tilburg, highlighted the causes of poverty

of the people who come to ask for food, such as a large

financial burden of debt, separation and psychological

problems. The food bank comes to the aid of these

people in their deepest need and tries to make concrete

plans with them to get their lives together again.

Betty Karhof, Associate Member of the Brothers CMM

and for many years involved in the Vincent de Paul

Society in Tilburg, observes in her Vincent Shop the

results of a hardening of society which hits especially

the elderly, single mothers, drug addicts, the

handicapped and the unemployed. The motto of the shop

is: ‘You are precious’. She shared how 36 volunteers

are working around the clock to gather funds for

activities such as a fair and the collection of clothes

and toys. Frans Koeman, architect, builder and chairman

of the Vincent de Paul Society, gave an insight in his

‘conversion’ towards the poor, when he was asked

to take on the leadership of the organization in

’s-Hertogenbosch. In the footsteps of Vincent de Paul

he challenges well-to-do people of today and scores

impressive results for the benefit of the poor.


Through the questions posed by the participants, the

afternoon became an interactive session with time for

personal reflection and the sharing of reactions from

small groups, followed by the PowerPoint presentation

‘Mercy: Gentle Power – Powerful Gentleness’, based on

Henri Nouwen’s book The Return of the Prodigal Son:

A Story of Homecoming. The book is a meditation on

the painting of The Prodigal Son by Rembrandt.

Brother Edward Gresnigt

Votive light in one of the many prayer centres in

France, where Vincent de Paul is venerated.

(photo: Brother Ad de Kok).



Participants in the Days for Juniors.



Kupang is the capital of the Indonesian Province Nusa Tenggara, situated in the West of West Timor.

From March 27-31 ‘Junior Days’ were held for brothers in temporary profession of vows. There were

15 participants coming from the communities of Lembata, SoE, Banjarmasin, Tarakan, Gleno and Dili.

Provincial Board-member Brother Nikodemus Tala Lamak, himself one of the speakers at the gathering,

shares with us the following report.

In his opening lecture Brother Yoseph Bille, chairperson

of the committee for junior brothers, emphasized that

the fruits of faith are ‘truth’ and ‘honesty’. He put

before the brothers that the real believer will always

speak the truth, will be honest, will fight for the truth

and will give life and limb for the truth. He invited the

brothers to strive for total honesty.


The Provincial Superior of the Brothers CMM in

Indonesia, Brother Martinus Leni, mentioned at

the beginning of the days for temporary professed

brothers that for the past five years the number

of vocations to the religious life in Indonesia

have been decreasing. The Brothers CMM also

have fewer vocations. In addition, many young


Stained glass window,

Generalate CMM, Tilburg:

‘Hail Queen, Mother of


brothers are leaving the Congregation. He added that

some brothers are more occupied with themselves and

with gadgets than with their lives as religious. Brother

Provincial wondered whether this was a reflection of

progressive globalization and he challenged the brothers

to come up with something to counterbalance it.

He stressed the importance of the Days for Juniors.

They offer the young brothers an opportunity to

re-evaluate the motivation of their vocation of living in

community - both locally and in the province. He hoped

that at the end of the Days for the Juniors their

commitment to the Brothers CMM would be strengthened.


Provincial Board-member Brother Martinus Mangundap

explained that the Days for the Juniors had been

organized at the initiative of the Provincial Board and

supported by the General Board. The Committee for

the Junior Days of the Province had put together a

programme that will be offered at Kupang, Medan and

Manado. The central question is: What kind of influence

does globalization have on religious life?

Brother Martinus expressed the hope that the brothers

would grasp the opportunity to thoroughly reflect on

this topic of globalization. The results of the gathering

may well provide directives for their work and the living

out of their vocation in the future.

Talking about the call to the religious life Brother

Martinus pointed at the motivation behind the vocation.

In this context he highlighted especially the vow of

chastity. For many religious that has – lately – become

a problem. There are a good number of brothers who

have for this reason asked permission to leave. Brother

Martinus explained how necessary it is to strengthen

the motivation to the religious life. “Do we live close

enough to the poor, the powerless and the suffering so

that our responsibility for them will help us to remain

faithful to our vocation?”


The Archbishop of Kupang, Peter Turang, spoke some

tough words at the Junior Days. It would be better for

the active religious life to disappear, he reckoned, if

it has no clear purpose and goal. “Communities and

even the Church community become poisoned”, he

said in very plain language. The archbishop described

religious life as “a vehicle to proclaim the gospel in

the world, especially in the world of education, so that

the students may grow into people who are able to

contribute to the life of society”. Central to religious life


is solidarity, “the practice of love”, according to

Bishop Peter Turang.

“That solidarity ought to permeate religious life, so that

the religious will be able to stand with other people

in solidarity. Essential is their relationship with God.

It is there that respect for the talents and uniqueness

of others, and true brotherhood develops. Religious life

needs to be characterized by hospitality, cooperation

and appreciation for the role and place of the other

person. All this makes religious happy people who are

aware of their identity.”

Relation with God

The growing impact of globalization on the life of a

brother is “quite diverse and is judged differently from

one brother to another”, said Provincial Board-member,

Brother Nikodemus Tala Lamak. “Modern means of

communication have changed community life. It used to

be that to contact another person you had to meet

him/her face to face; now you send an sms or use your

cell phone, even if that person is only a door away

in the brotherhouse. That can work detrimental to

brotherhood in the community. We live our vocation

in a world surrounded by things that make life easier,

but which can become temptations at the same time.”

“How do we best fit in this global, postmodern world”,

asked Brother Nikodemus. He called on the brothers to

remain faithful to the charism and spirituality of the

Congregation, “through caring for the poor as merciful

brothers, especially for the young whose future looks so

bleak and void of opportunities”.

Brother Yoseph Bille focused in on the influence of

globalization on prayer life. “Prayer concerns our

relationship with God”, he stressed. “It frequently

happens that prayer becomes a matter of routine, it

does very little to you and as a result you don’t put

much time into that relationship. God will get sad,

because it is exactly in relationship with Him we are

able to be ourselves. Too often God can only observe

how we forget him and become more and more

creatures ‘of the world’. That increasingly globalized

world rarely refers to God. Thus people grow away

from their origin and destiny. It is quite a challenge

to maintain our relationship with God and strengthen

it. But it is immensely gratifying when we experience

progress in that area, because then we may live,

accompanied by our God of Love.”


At the end of the five Days for Juniors each of the

brothers in temporary profession of vows made a plan

to bring it into practice in the immediate future. After

this there was opportunity to evaluate the meeting.

There were nothing but positive reactions. The brothers

were excited about the ‘reunion aspect’ of the days

and the ample space given them to exchange feelings

and experiences. The input of the leaders was seen as

particularly inspiring and motivating.

Brother Nikodemus Tala Lamak

Left: Brother Yoseph Bille,

chairperson of the CMM

Committee for Juniors.

Right: Brother Martinus Leni,

Provincial Superior

of Indonesia.





DELIVER € 40.000,-

On June 7, 8, and 9 Sint-Joris College in Eindhoven organized a ‘sponsored’ appeal for the benefit of the Oyugis

Integrated Project (OIP) of the Brothers CMM in Kenya. Every two years since 1991 the school organizes a fund

raiser for OIP. The Foundation ‘Wilde Ganzen’ (Wild Geese) increases the collected amount. The activities are

meant to increase the awareness of pupils for the less privileged in the developing world. This time the action

delivered 40.000,-, this was € 10.000,- more than in 2009.

More than half of the Kenyans in the region around

Oyugis are affected with HIV, the virus that causes the

fatal disease Aids. OIP was founded to prevent Aids,

to accompany people with HIV and to take care of

Aids widows and Aids orphans. By means of the Kenya

activities the school has in previous years contributed

to the building of three secondary schools, the placing

of the inventory and the purchase of necessary

educational materials. Dormitories have been built

for the boarding facility and with the assistance

of Eindhoven a library has been realized and water

reservoirs have been placed. This year money was

collected for among other things the interior of a

dormitory and the renovation of some homes. Prior

to the action, General Board-member Brother Lawrence

Obiko visited the school to motivate the students.


On Tuesday, June 7 at 6:45 AM the ‘Kenya Appeal

2011’started with a pentathlon by class 1C (29 pupils)

under the direction of their mentor Mr. Rob van der

Laan, physical education teacher. The pentathlon

consisted out of bicycling 12 km, swimming 1 km,

indoor climbing, inline skating 10 km, again bicycling

12 km and one hour streetdance at the end. Class 1C

raised with this action the enormous amount of

€ 24.932,50. For Mr. Rob van der Laan, who retires

next year from the school, it was his seventh and last

fundraising activity. On June 8, Brother Broer Huitema,

the Superior General was present at the ‘Kenya evening’.

Cars were washed, pancakes baked, there was indoor

bicycling, an auction, and a lottery. A student band took

care of the entertainment.


Another activity for Kenya was the performance of

the largest flashmob in The Netherlands on June 9.

(a flashmob is a (large) group of people that gathers all

of a sudden at a public place, does something unusual

and ‘in a flash’ disappear again.) At 12:00 o’clock more

than 1300 pupils performed at the 18 September Square

in the centre of Eindhoven the hit ‘Waka Waka’ dance

they had practiced, of Shakira.

Two pupils, with chaperones, will visit Kenya this

summer, to see with their own eyes what the combined

school has held the fundraising activities for. At the

start of the new school year they will share their

experiences with the pupils of the Sint-Joris College.

Picture of the ‘Flashmob’ in Eindhoven.

With their sport activities

the pupils of 1C collected an

enormous amount.




The Superior General, Brother Broer Huitema, opened the ‘St. Vincent de Paul Boarding School’ in Oyugis, Kenya

on March 3. This boarding school for boys came about through the sponsorship activities of Sint-Joris College in

Eindhoven, in collaboration with the ‘Wild Geese’ Foundation. The building was blessed by the parish priest

Father Martin Oyugi. The Aids orphans, who had to walk one and a half hours back and forth to school each day,

now reside at the boarding school. During the official part of the opening ceremony the students expressed their

gratitude for the work of the students from Eindhoven and expressed their hope that they also could furnish the

beds, mattresses, water and electricity facilities. The sponsorship activities of Sint-Joris College on June 7, 8, and 9

were meant for that purpose (see page 18).

Brother Broer Huitema unveils the plaque at the boarding school St. Vincent de Paul. To the left of him, in

the background is the parish priest Father Martin Oyugi. The person with the camera is Brother Lawrence

Obiko, General Board-member. To his left is Brother Leo van de Weijer, Deputy of the brothers in Kenya.



In the Vincent Shop, a project of the Vincent de Paul

Society in Tilburg, second-hand items are sold, which

have been donated by the people of Tilburg. All income

of the shop, after deducting the expenses, is earmarked

for projects across the globe, but especially to combat

poverty in Tilburg. The Vincent Shop organized a market

on May 21; the profits went to two worthy causes:

the foundation ‘Broodnodig’ (Bread for the needy),

of the well-known Father Poels in Tilburg, which

supplies many people with bread and groceries, and

‘De Vuurhaard’ (The Hearth), the refugee centre of the

brothers’ community in Udenhout. The market provided

5000 Euros for the refugee centre. In a letter of

gratitude, addressed to the leadership and volunteers

of the Vincent Shop the brothers from Udenhout wrote:

“We of ‘De Vuurhaard’ are flabbergasted by the

awesome results of your market activities. We realize

that you not only provide fantastic service to the

people of Tilburg with your shop. You also look across

the confines of Tilburg. This time ‘De Vuurhaard’ came

on your horizon. Thank you so much. Thank you

that you saw, were moved and got into action.”



‘Transformation’, a work of

art, and in the background

the buildings of ZIN

(picture by Jeroen Olthof).


The festive unveiling of ‘Transformation’, a work of art in corten steel, bronze and concrete, of artist Jeroen Olthof,

took place at the reflection centre ZIN in Vught on May 25. Jeroen worked in the guest studio of ZIN in 2010 and

got acquainted with the Congregation of the Brothers CMM. Ten years ago the brothers founded the centre ZIN,

a community for meaning and work. In gratitude for his residency he made this work of art, which was also made

possible by Publishing House Zwijsen, a company originally founded by the Congregation.



During the two Eucharistic celebrations, held in the

parish church of Oyugis on May 15, special attention

was given to the 48th Vocation Sunday in the Roman

Catholic Church. Four communities, including two of the

Brothers CMM, together with the parish priest the Rev.

Martin Oyugi, prepared the liturgy of the day.

The petitions for both celebrations were prepared and

read by Brother Vincent Odhiambo Oguok and a sister.

The offertory gifts were brought to the altar by

Brother Erick Nyakundi Nyamwaro and Brother Philemon

Ratemo. After the homilies, Brother Leo van de Weijer

read the message of Pope Benedict XVI for Vocation

Sunday. The theme of the message was ‘The promotion

of vocations in the local church’. In this message

the pope emphasized the importance of prayer for

vocations. Afterwards Brother Leo spoke about his own

personal experience in 1954 when he was a pupil in

the sixth grade of the elementary school.

On March 19, feast day of Saint Joseph, Brother Leo

went for a day of prayer to Smakt in Limburg. This town

honours Joseph, patron saint of vocations. Afterwards

he experienced the strength to go to a brothers’ school,

which was founded for young people with an interest in

the religious life of a brother. After his presentation he

asked for a few moments of silence and personal prayer

for vocations. He invited those present to pray for

vocations at home as well. At the end of both liturgical

celebrations, all the religious members introduced

themselves to the congregation. After the celebrations

the idea was born to create a vocation team, in which

the representatives of the four communities and the

parish priest could combine their efforts to create

interest for the religious life.







Brother Hermenegildus Beris made a new

contribution to the historiography of the church

history of Namibia. He wrote the history of the

Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of Immaculate

Conception (SMIC), whose work will span 50 years in

Namibia in 2012. The title of his book is: Epiphany in

Namibia: A History of the Missionary Sisters of Mary

Immaculate in Namibia. Back in 1996, he published

already the historiography of the mission in Namibia,

with a focus on the Archdiocese of Windhoek and

the Apostolic Vicariate of Rundu. In addition, Brother

Hermenegildus published books on the history of the

Diocese of Keetmanshoop, which appeared in 2001,

2003, and 2007. In 2009, the author published a

book on the missionary work of the Brothers CMM in

Namibia: Mission Between Deserts: A History of the

Brothers CMM in Namibia.

Brother Hermenegildus

with his new book.



He was born in Eindhoven, The Netherlands, on April

11, 1921 and entered the Congregation of the Brothers

of Our Lady, Mother of Mercy in Tilburg on August 29,

1939. He made his profession for life on August 15,

1944. He died on February 6, 2011 in the community

of Joannes Zwijsen in Tilburg and was buried at the

brothers’ cemetery at the Estate Steenwijk in Vught,

The Netherlands.

Brother Optato lived for a long time in Oss and worked

as a teacher in the elementary school system. He was a

delightful teacher for the children and a great colleague

for the other teachers. Besides his school assignment he

was an assistant group leader at St. Nicholaas Boarding

School in Oss as well. He was a true community person,

a man of social interaction and community. Until the

last weeks of his life, when it was hardly possible,

he was still present at the community prayer, the

meals and recreation. He was a man full of humour,

including self mockery when it concerned his pains

and burdens. He suffered much during the last years

of his life. Luckily he was of clear mind until his death.

With enthusiasm, humour and an enviable optimism he

completed his journey to the joy of his fellow-brothers

and care givers.

Brother Optato loved his family. He was an affable

resident for those who nursed him and took care of him.

Always attentive, he kept doing many things himself,

liked to surprise others, and did not want to bother

them more than necessary. All this made him a beloved

human being with his family, his fellow-brothers and his

former pupils and colleagues.




Ko (J.J.M.) Janssen


Jan (J.H.W.) Spaninks

He was born in Zwolle on December 15, 1923 and

entered the Congregation of the Brothers of Our Lady,

Mother of Mercy in Tilburg on August 29, 1940.

He made his profession for life on August 15, 1945.

He died on May 26, 2011 in the community of Joannes

Zwijsen in Tilburg and was buried at the brothers

cemetery at the Estate Steenwijk in Vught,

The Netherlands.

Brother Ko had a teacher’s career from 1944 till 1983.

He worked as a teacher in the elementary school system

in Tilburg, Oisterwijk, Leeuwarden and Zwolle. He read

and studied his whole life long. The secrets of the

cosmos interested him till his old age. The miracles

of technology fascinated him. He observed life.

Observation gave him more joy than participation.

The order of the world around him occupied him.

He explored their meaning and their interrelatedness.

Brother Ko was a conscientious and loyal religious man.

According to the spirituality of the Congregation he

lived frugally and simply, was friendly and modest,

and demanded little from his fellow-brothers.

The Congregation was dear to him. He was grateful for

the constancy and rest offered him by the residential

care facility Joannes Zwijsen. He had a good relationship

with his family, both in The Netherlands and abroad.

The life’s journey of Brother Ko ended quite

unexpectedly. We would have enjoyed his company

much longer. We let him go now in faith so that the

Merciful One who looked after him, may take him

in his greatest mystery, his love that knows no end.

He was born in Tilburg on July 5, 1928 and entered

the Congregation of the Brothers of Our Lady, Mother

of Mercy in Tilburg on August 29, 1946. He made his

profession for life on August 15, 1951. He died on

June 13, 2011 in the community of Joannes Zwijsen

in Tilburg and was buried at the brothers’ cemetery at

the Estate Steenwijk in Vught, The Netherlands.

Brother Jan was apprenticed as a tailor, but has

been active in the Congregation as a cook and caretaker

of sick and elderly fellow-brothers. He considered the

long time he spent in Vught, where he was responsible

for the housekeeping of the small community, as the

happiest days of his life. Brother Jan thrived on social

contacts. He was attentive and enjoyed a good

conversation. He had a fine relationship with his family.

Brother Jan encountered a great deal of suffering during

his life. His youth was strongly effected by his mother’s

illness. Later on, it turned out that he himself physically

speaking was not strong. He endured many operations

and could elaborate extensively about them. The last

three years were both spiritually and physically very

demanding. Fellow-brothers, care givers, family

members and friends visited him and encouraged him.

However, Brother Jan walked the last part of his life

primarily by himself. He was not afraid of death, and

during the last couple of months he even welcomed

death. On the Second Day of Pentecost, he passed

away quietly while sitting in his chair, freed from all

pain, freed from all darkness. His face radiated peace.

He had reached his final destination.






A song for the road

The popular image of Zwijsen implies that he is a sensible and a practical man. In modernday

language we would call him a type of manager. He was, beyond doubt, someone with an

organizational talent and a feeling for ‘networking’. But there is more. It was for a very good

reason that Zwijsen made ‘mercy’ the key word for his congregations. As the founder he himself

lived with passion and pragmatism. And with his followers he emphasized the ‘soft forces’, with

compassion as core value.

According to the seminary archives, Zwijsen functioned

as cantor during the liturgy when he was a seminarian.

The hymn Salve Regina must have been especially dear

to him. Deliberately he gave his brothers and sisters

Mary, precisely as Mother of Mercy, as patron saint

and protector. All this shows that he had also an eye

and a heart for needs and tears, and also for warmth

and tenderness.

Is it therefore surprising that the sisters and brothers,

following in the footsteps of Zwijsen, experience the

hymn Salve Regina as their signature tune as their

beloved greeting to the Mother of Mercy on their life’s

journey? They themselves and the people they care for,

feel themselves secure by the Mother of Mercy.

Brother Harrie van Geene


Our encounter with Him

takes place in work and rest,

in anxiety and in peace,

in joy and in sorrow.

(from the Rule of Life of the Brothers CMM)

Magazine of the Congregation of the Brothers of Our Lady, Mother of Mercy


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