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brothers cmm 10 4 - 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 she appears,

are expressions of the society in which she arose,

and of the spirituality that carries her.

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


Printing: Franciscan Kolbe Press, Limuru, Kenya,


Contact: Rhapta Road, P.O.Box 14916

Nairobi, Westlands 00800, Kenya

e-mail: magazine@cmmbrothers.nl

website: www.cmmbrothers.org

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 cover: Newly professed brothers in Kenya

cut the cake. From left to right: the Brothers Martin

Okoth Odide, Johannes Mateus, Zachaeus Odiambo.

The Prodigal Son, Rembrandt

Photograph back cover: Bridge across the Seine

in Paris (photo: Brother Ad de Kok).








At the end of the first volume of Brothers CMM

in the new, full color format, the editorial board

can look back on a successful start up again.

Positive reactions from the readership confirm

that the choice for restyling the magazine was

the correct one. It has been decided therefore

to continue on the same path. The English and

Indonesian editions have also been well received.

In the meantime the congregational website

too has been restyled along the same lines

as the Brothers CMM. More about this can be

read at ‘Short News’ on page 19. There is no

shortage of material, as evidenced by the great

variety in this edition. A special contribution

comes from Mr. Paul Overman, who adds beauty

to the weekly Eucharistic Celebration with his

organ play. He composed the ‘Frater Andreasmis’

(Brother Andreas Mass). It was sung for the first

time on August 29, in the chapel of residential

care facility Joannes Zwijsen in Tilburg. Also

remarkable are the personal impressions from

two Indonesian Brothers CMM and one Sister

SCMM from the Philippines, who participated

last summer in an intensive five-week program

as preparation for their profession for life. The

group made a pilgrimage from August 9 to 22

to places in France that were significant in the

life of Vincent de Paul and Louise de Marillac.

“The Vincentian pilgrimage set my heart on fire!”,

writes Sister Julia Bantian. “It was the most

inspiring and enriching experience I ever had.”

The editorial board looks forward to more such

inspiring contributions.




















On Thursday, October 14, a quinquennial congress was held in our reflection centre ‘ZIN’ in Vught, as part of

celebrating its ten years existence. Together with about one hundred guests I listened to presenters who spoke

about the great challenges we currently face in our society. The worldwide economic and financial crisis, the

continuing conflicts, the growing chasm between poor and rich and the depletion of our physical resources

evoke all kinds of questions about the way to a better future and about the new leadership that it requires.

These questions are not so easy to answer. And I did

not receive any readymade answers at the congress.

The attempt to find answers touched upon the

achievements of science and upon age-old ‘wisdom’.

Science has given us much new knowledge and many

new insights. Sometimes we used it well and sometimes

we used it badly. Wisdom always concerns concepts

such as love, attention, compassion, mercy and

community. And then I ask myself: what can I do now?

What can we do as a Congregation? On the big world

stage we play but a very modest role. As our Rule of

Life indicates: modesty is appropriate for us. We would

accomplish a lot if we just concentrate on working with

the acquired wisdom of the ages. And in just doing that

we would indeed have our hands full.

I write this column while I am on my way to Namibia. A

Dutch couple, together with Brother Emeric Goossens,

started in 1990 a project for street children in

Usakos, a little town in the middle of the desert. The

Congregation took over that project on October 23. The

new and younger generation of Namibian brothers will

lead it and expand it. I will ask them to do it with the

wisdom of the ages: help the children on their way with

love, attention and compassion. But also to approach

the co-workers with the same love, attention and

compassion and jointly with them support the project.

At the congress one also talked about the importance

of a ‘servant leadership’. I will ask that too of these

brothers: that they will be servant leaders! They can do

that with all the means at their disposal and all insights

that science has given us. With today’s technology

and the most advanced pedagogical methods and

techniques. But without the ancient wisdom they will

not succeed. We need to cherish those age-old values

and remind ourselves of them time and time again. If

not, things will go wrong in matters great and small,

with individuals as well as with organizations. The

Brothers Richard, Johannes and Gerard started in

Usakos on October 23. If they proceed with wisdom, a

better future will get just a little bit closer!

Brother Broer Huitema




In the time of Brother Andreas too, a vocation was not self-evident. The person who chose religious life had

to explain why and met with lack of understanding from many people. There were always doubts about the

choice of this kind of life. Certain pamphlets and chronicles described religious life enthusiastically but never

quite succeeded in removing all misgivings.

In the case of Brother Andreas, his immediate family

appreciated his choice. ‘Our John’ had always been a

little odd. As somebody who liked to study, he did not

fit well on a farm. But did they really understand what

he was looking for in a religious community? Did they

understand his fervour and quiet asceticism? Probably not,

but these questions did not need to be answered. The

lack of understanding did not stand in the way of a cordial


It was in the classroom that the teaching brothers most

frequently encountered misunderstanding. Respect for

authority had been drilled into the pupils. But the moment

they had an opportunity, the boys let it be known that

they wondered about the religious lifestyle. In the case of

Brother Andreas they got that opportunity almost every

period, because he did not have much discipline in his

class. He must have suffered under the worldly cruelty

and amusing mockery of his pupils. But he did find a way

to cope with it: he did not react. He kept on going and

remained unperturbed friendly and dutiful.

been looking at him angrily, all the way to Oss… Brother

Andreas stated that he never had seen anybody look that

angry and he did not understand how that traveller could

keep it up for that long.” The brothers who were listening

did not understand how he had put up with sitting

across this man for so long. Why didn’t he find another

compartment? “O yes, I could have done that”, Andreas

answered cheerily. But he had not done it.

Charles van Leeuwen

Brother Andreas did not have intensive contact with

the outside world. With the parents of his pupils he was

polite but rather formal and distant. Fellow-brothers

found him sometimes a bit too shy. Was he afraid of the

world? Or was it the others who feared his conscientious

attitude and avoided him? An anecdote from the life of

Brother Andreas shows that it was not always easy for

the brothers to interact with people. Brother Nicetas

relates: “In or around 1900 in Oss we were visited by

Brother Andreas, who arrived from Zwolle. About his trip

he told us that he was seated across a man, who had

Interior of Brother Andreas’ parental home.






On Sunday August 29, in the chapel of the residential care facility Joannes Zwijsen in Tilburg, the ‘Brother

Andreas Mass’ was sung for the first time. This happened at a Eucharistic Celebration on the occasion of the

jubilees of six brothers from Joannes Zwijsen, two from the Generalate, and of Brother Ad Hems from Indonesia.

Mr. Paul Overman, who embellishes the weekly Eucharistic Celebration at the Generalate with his organ music,

composed this Mass. He tells us here how he set up the structure.

During the yearly pilgrimage to the tomb of Brother

Andreas I played now and then a song in his honour, but

there was no complete Mass. This astonished me and I

decided at the start of this year to compose a special

Mass for him. With the functionality of the Mass in

mind I chose immediately for a Mass sung by the people

Mr. Paul Overman behind the organ

during the Brother Andreas Mass.

in addition to a cantor and organ. Concerning the voice

leading and range the Mass should not be too high or

too low, and with the composed melody lines I tried

to be as original as possible although you can’t quite

escape that some melodic turns sound ‘familiar’ to

the ear.

Praying while singing

Then there was the search for a theme. The songs had

to be connected to each other to produce a unity.

Brother Andreas himself gave me the best suggestion.

The initials of his name form in music a special theme:

F - A - D – B (Frater Andreas van Den Boer). The organ

prelude to the Lord have mercy exhibits this theme and

at the same time it serves also as an interlude between

the Christ have mercy and the repetition of Lord have

mercy. Thus the faithful, singing together with Brother

Andreas, pray for God’s mercy. Then follows the Glory

to God, written in Gregorian style, emphasizing the

singing of the prayer. This is the Gregorian music that

Brother Andreas in his time frequently sang for the

Sunday celebration but also for the liturgy of the hours.

In the organ accompaniment I return to the F – A

– D – B motif several times so that Brother Andreas

‘accompanies’ us in this song of praise. I deliberately



On the 11th of June the official opening took place of

the 2010 FIFA WORLD CUP in South Africa. Prior to

that a Church initiative took off in Africa to draw

attention to the hiv/aids awareness campaign by

printing the text ‘Red cards for Aids’ on soccer balls. In

solidarity with this campaign and supported by Kenyan

authorities, 32 football competitions were organized

by Brother Linus Schoutsen in eight prisons. Brother

Linus works in Kenya on setting up projects to assist

prisoners rehabilitate when they return to society. For

a whole month they were training with the utmost

fervour. The teams were given names such as ‘Spain’,

‘The Netherlands’ and ‘Germany’. It was most

remarkable that on the morning of the 11th of July

‘Spain’ beat ‘The Netherlands’ in the final, exactly as it

happened that same evening in South Africa. Most of

the players were prisoners with life sentences who for

10 years or more had not been outside the prison

gates. Now they played on a real football field, with

real turf and real spectators. They were very

enthusiastic and thankful. When ‘Spain’ received the

‘Red Cards Aids World Cup Trophy’ the prison wardens

danced just as spontaneously as their ‘brother

prisoners’. Brother Linus Schoutsen: “This event is a

true turning point in Kenyan prison management.

Never before have such events been organized on such

Kenyan prisoners.

a large scale, not to mention the fact they took place

outside prison walls. Only in such a climate can

rehabilitation take place.” At the opening and closing

of the games the players were wearing T-Shirts with

the motto ‘Prisoners are people too’ at the front – the

catch phrase with which Linus Schoutsen performs his

mission of service among the prisoners. At the back it

read ‘Red Cards for Aids’.


Mayor Severijns pins the royal decorations of the

Knighthood of Oranje-Nassau onto Brother Ad Hems.

During his holidays in The Netherlands, from his mission

in Indonesia, Brother Ad Hems celebrated his golden

jubilee – 50 years a religious brother. On the 5th of

September during the family celebration of his jubilee in

Middelbeers, Mayor Ruud Severijns, handed him the royal

distinction: Knight in the Order of Oranje-Nassau. The

recipient has been working in Indonesia since 1969. With

due pride he remembers the launching of his ‘Credit

Union’ in 1985 on the Indonesian Island Nias, and the

way in which he accompanied the project. Right now it

has grown into a financial co-operative with 21 offices,

enabling fifty thousand members to put their money into

savings, to lend and to invest money. This enterprise with

micro credits allowed for a speedy recovery immediately

after the devastating tsunami – Boxing Day 2004 – and

the earthquake, the day after Easter 2005. In that way

Brother Ad Hems was able to play an important role in

the fight against poverty and underdevelopment in



the netherlands




Last summer nine brothers spent five weeks in The Netherlands following an intensive programme in

preparation for their profession for life. The Brothers Benad Simbolon, Tarsisius Abi, Yasintus Seran, Nobertus

Dake and Wilfridus Bria from Indonesia, Martin Okoth and Zacheaus Odiambo from Kenya and Johannes

Mateus from Namibia arrived on 25 July. A week later they were joined by Brother Cosmas Atola from Tanzania.

He had experienced delays due to visa problems. Nine Sisters SCMM, from Indonesia, Brazil and the Philippines,

followed some parts of the preparation programme. Two brothers and one of the sisters share some of their

impressions in the next three pages.

During the first week of their stay in The Netherlands

the brothers visited their fellow-brothers in the

communities of Elim, Zonhoven and Joannes Zwijsen.

From their conversations the visiting brothers got

a fairly good idea of the life and apostolate of the

brothers in The Netherlands and in Belgium.

Vincentian pilgrimage

At the Generalate in Tilburg, Brother Harrie van Geene

presented a three-day workshop on the theme of the

religious vows. Brother Lawrence Obiko had prepared a

historical PowerPoint presentation: ‘The Charism of the

Brothers CMM: Past, Present and Future.

Preceding their pilgrimage – from 9 to 22 August – to

places in France that were important in the lives of

Vincent de Paul and Louise Marillac, they – together

with the sisters – spent four days of workshops on

Vincent. These workshops were organized by the

Brothers Broer Huitema, Martinus Lumbanraja, the

Sisters Mariana Situngkir, Ursula van de Ven and

Father Rafael Isharianto CM. During the Vincentian

pilgrimage, the three days of reflection in Dax-Le

Berceau, the birthplace of Vincent de Paul, impressed

the participants most. The journey also took them to

the places where Mary is venerated in a special way,

such as Lourdes, Chartres and Buglose.

Young brothers and sisters during a Eucharistic

Celebration in the chapel of the Generalate in Tilburg.

Interactive programme

Chartres is a pilgrimage shrine of Our Lady. There is

a black statue of Mary in the cathedral. Here, Louise

de Marillac dedicated her Daughters of Charity to Our

Lady. Buglose is also a centuries’ old shrine where

Vincent de Paul himself went on pilgrimage. There is a

miraculous statue of Our Lady.

Following the pilgrimage Brother Wim Verschuren

presented a three-day workshop on ‘Compassion’ at

the reflection centre ZIN in Vught. Mr. Charles van

Leeuwen, Secretary Spirituality of the Brothers CMM,

gave a two-day intensive and interactive programme

about Joannes Zwijsen, Brother Andreas van den Boer

and the early history of the Congregation.


Visiting Zonhoven. From left to right: the Brothers Wilfridus

Bria, Edward Gresnigt and Marcel Achten.

‘Enjoyable and


It was a splendid day for me. Accompanied by the

Brothers Edward Gresnigt and Martinus Lumbanraja we

visited the communities of the Brothers in Zonhoven,

Belgium. Driving there, I was amazed at the spacious

fields and meadows surrounding the farm houses. It was

quite different from Indonesia. I saw pigs, sheep, cows

and horses. Beautiful! The woods we traveled through,

they looked awesome too. After an hour and a half we

arrived at Zonhoven. We received a warm welcome from

the brothers. Sipping a cup of coffee we were given

the opportunity to introduce ourselves. The Belgian

brothers too introduced themselves with the Brothers

Edward and Martinus acting as translators. I found it

quite moving to listen to the life stories of our older

fellow-brothers. Many have given their very best to

the education of the blind and deaf, to parish ministry,

youth ministry and care for the elderly.

With my profession of life in front of me it is good to

reflect on my life as a brother. In this context it is quite

inspiring to listen to what my fellow-brothers have done

as religious brothers and what they have meant for

others, and how they embodied our spirituality. I can

easily take them as my role models.

Brother Yasintus Seran

Brothers and sisters admire the cathedral of Chartres.

‘Labyrinth symbol for

the spiritual journey’

For many centuries pilgrims went up to the splendid

French city of Chartres. The focus of the visit is the

beautiful medieval cathedral. Our group was lodged at a

hotel which was established in a monastery dating back

to the Middle Ages, it was preserved as much as possible

in the old style.

The cathedral with its magnificent stained-glass

windows is also a Marian Shrine. I have seen a cloak in

the church’s crypt, which, according to tradition has

been woven by Our Lady herself. The dark holy statue

which is venerated in the cathedral is found in the side

aisle of the cathedral. I said my prayers there and lit a


When you walk into the church through the main

entrance you find a labyrinth on the floor. Someone told

me it is a symbol of the spiritual journey people have to

go on. That would match my own experience. I too had

to find my way in life and sometimes I got stuck. The

labyrinth fascinated me for quite some time. To walk it

you have to cover 260 meters while the cathedral itself

is only 140 m long. It consists of 276 pebbles, about

the number of days the baby spends in its mother’s

womb. Going this spiritual journey apparently mirrors

something of a new birth. The cathedral has awesome

stained-glass windows – you just have to keep looking


the netherlands

at them. I am amazed that this building was made

possible through the contributions made by the citizens

of Chartres. Such an impressive community project! But

I also read that during the building money often ran out

and the work was interrupted frequently.

I am glad to have visited this beautiful cathedral. I

know now what the people of Chartres have done in

God’s honour. Much is asked of me, as a brother. But I

will accept it gladly inspired by the men and women of

Chartres who built their magnificent cathedral.

Brother Nobertus Dake

frater Nobertus Dake

spirituality of the Congregations in our countries. I

could also quench my spiritual thirst with the wisdom

of the older brothers and sisters in our Congregations.

They grow old in a charming manner because they

can look back with due satisfaction to what they have

contributed to their Congregations. One of them said:

“Your presence gives us the certainty that our charism

will continue, when we are no longer there.” When

I heard this I felt an enormous responsibility resting

on our shoulders, but I also realized that unavoidably

young people embody the hope of their elders. I thank

our older sisters for their trust in us. We will treasure

what you have handed on to us. I ask the young

brothers and sisters to keep on praying for one another

that the torch we carry will always be aflame and that

we – like those who went before us – may at the end

of our lives be left with good and happy memories.

May God make the work of our hands successful.

Sister Julia Bantian (Philippines)

Detail stained-glass

window in the cathedral.

‘Hearts aflame’

Statues in the cathedral

of Chartres.

The Vincentian pilgrimage has set my heart aflame! It

was the most inspiring and enriching experience I have

ever had. All the things I was presented with during my

period of formation now became visible and touchable.

I was able to experience in a very personal way the

charism and spirit of Vincent and Bishop Zwijsen. Every

step of the way, as I found myself at various locations of

the pilgrimage, I could feel the power of their works of

charity and compassion. It led me to reflect on my own

religious journey through life; did I live the virtue of

charity by being compassionate towards those who are

not loved; when did I fail to do so?

This pilgrimage has also brought home to me that the

number of vocations is going down. Each year the

number of sisters becomes less. We have to face the

facts and search for opportunities to allow our charism

to survive. It becomes increasingly urgent for us to

apply Vincent’s and Bishop Zwijsen’s successful method,

by approaching the rich and asking them to practice

works of charity for the benefit of the poor.

Another fruitful outcome of the pilgrimage is the

spirit of connectedness between the young brothers

and sisters. It resulted in comparing the different

cultures and the ways in which we put into practice the

From left to right: Brother Martin Okoth Odide, Sister

Melin Sinak-ey, Father Rafael Isharianto, Brother

Zacheaus Obhiambo, Sister Julia Bantian.

Young brothers and sisters in the museum of the

Sisters SCMM in Tilburg.


Brother Louis de Visser invites his younger fellowbrothers

to experience the silence of the woods.

‘Experiencing God

in nature’

‘Poppel’ is the name of a small village in Belgium. It is

surrounded by magnificent woods. Everything breathes

quiet and peace. From Tilburg it takes only half an hour

by car to get there. The Brothers Martinus Lumbanraja

and Louis de Visser took us to a small house in the midst

of the woods near Poppel. The family of one of the

brothers donated it to the Congregation. The cottage is

used as a meeting place for the brothers of the General

Board. The brothers can also use it for their retreat.

There is a meeting room, a kitchen, a bedroom, a toilet

and a bathroom. The meeting room looks out on a

garden decked with flowers.

After we had checked the house, Brother Louis asked

us to join him for a walk through the woods. Brother

Martinus was going to make a cup of coffee. The woods

are beautiful and are a long way away from the busy

city. It’s very quiet there – a good place to come to

calm reflection. We walked for about two hours through

the woods. We spotted a pond with ducks and marveled

at the variety of trees in the woods. There is a memorial

for some Dutchmen killed by the Germans in the woods

in 1942. Brother Louis invited us to listen to the rustling

of the wind in the trees and the calming sound of the

babbling stream. Truly splendid, awesome nature! The

birds were singing like they were happy to see us. Before

we knew we were back in the cottage having a cup of

coffee together.

The Poppel visit made it clear how important it is for me

as a brother to get away from my busy daily work on

a regular basis to search and find the silence of nature

and experience there God in my heart.

Brother Nobertus Dake

From left to right: the Brothers Nobertus Dake, Benad

Simbolon and Martinus Lumbanraja enjoying a cup of



the netherlands


POOR (3)

Brother Pieter-Jan van Lierop wrote an article about Vincent de Paul for the ecumenical spirituality magazine

‘Herademing’ (Refreshment). The article was titled ‘Called by the Poor’ and appeared this year in the March issue

of the quarterly edition. ‘Brothers CMM’ presents the article in three segments. This is segment three.

It takes a lot to build a relationship with poor and

marginalized people. If you become part of their

story, you also become part of their weakness and

powerlessness. You become truly poor with the poor.

For this reason Vincent advises us to reflect regularly

on why our dealings with the poor happen the way they

do. You have to meditate on this; otherwise you will

not see anything but greedy, unreliable, uncouth, dumb

and insolent poor people. While at the same time we

are asked to hold on to the words of the Gospel: “What

you did to the least of my brothers, you did unto Me”

(Matthew 25:40).

Affective and effective love

Vincentian meditation is much more a reflection on the

manner of our service to the poor than a contemplative

striving after inner, revealing emptiness, though Vincent

was not unfamiliar with this form of meditation. In

this way your love for the poor can grow. According

to Vincent not just love, but an affective and effective

love. With affective love he meant that it is all right to

be moved by the sufferings of the poor; that you are

touched by their plight; that you are affected and with

much empathy approach the poor. But this affective love

has to be complemented with effective love, aimed at

expertise, organization and results. A purely affective

relationship with the poor is sentimental; a purely

effective relationship is business-like; it does not give

due credit to the reality that the poor have feelings. It is

essential that both aspects of love form unity.

Vincentian Virtues

Simplicity had a special meaning for Vincent. He was

not concerned about material frugality – that virtue

was practiced anyway; he was concerned with the

motivation by which one served the poor. This had to

be free of selfishness, free of self-love, no show or an

opportunity to score. Under no circumstances should

the poor feel humiliated.

Humility is a virtue that teaches us that goodness,

expertise, and an attitude of service do not depend on

us, but that it is a gift from God. Anyone who presents

himself as a well educated, richly experienced and

important person will be unmasked by the poor. They

will pierce that inflated balloon rather quickly.

Meekness makes one patient and nonviolent. Reacting

with a ‘short fuse’ and quarrelling is unheard of. The

meek person understands why the poor often come

across as greedy and insolent. Not getting angry is the

answer to that, and finding, together with the poor,

ways to solve problems.

Self-sacrifice is a virtue by which you place your own

needs and passions on the back burner, for the poor

need you.

The ‘drive’ to save people makes the Vincentian a real

friend of people. Wherever there are people, there is

that perceptiveness, that sensitivity for what the poor

have to deal with, and that empathy becomes real in

concrete action.


Shrine of Vincent de Paul at the church of the Vincentians in the Rue de Sèvres in Paris.

Becoming merciful

Vincent has been very busy with the way in which his

followers should relate to the poor. He asked himself

what kind of people would be fit for service to the poor.

To this end he formulated five attention points, mostly

called Vincentian virtues: simplicity, humility, meekness,

self-sacrifice, and the drive to save people (see box on

page 14). It is the beauty of these five virtues, that if one

pays attention to óne, the others will be strengthened as

well. It is wonderful that as a result one becomes more

merciful; that the five virtues turn out to be paths to

becoming merciful. Someone who serves the poor for his

own glory and honour is not merciful, even less so if he

places his own goodness continually in the foreground.

How can you relate meaningfully to the poor if you are

often emotional and aggressive? And if you even quarrel

with the poor, because you are too dumb or too limited to

have feeling for their sense of self-worth and their needs?

If you do not love people, stay away from the poor, for

you only put them off.

Traces of God

To be merciful and to experience God are of the same

order. The Gospel clearly states: “Be merciful, as your

heavenly Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36). Mercy, for

Vincent, was thé distinguishing characteristic of God.

Wherever one sensed mercy, Vincent saw the traces of

God’s presence. When he got to know poor people better

by relating to them as his brothers and sisters, he would

see more clearly how they sometimes were merciful to

each other, in other words, how God was present in them.

In our secular times one does not speak about being a

Christ-bearer for others. However, it is very encouraging

when you become aware of the reality that you can

be merciful and in that way present God to those who

suffer. And also that the poor person can be a source of

mercy, for he or she evoke it in us and sometimes can be

merciful himself. In this way we learn again to live by the

Gospel and to experience God in the reality of our daily

life. Thus we are called, just like Vincent, to mercy.

Brother Pieter Jan van Lierop





To rediscover CMM spirituality, twenty-nine brothers from different nations participated in the ‘Summer School

Spirituality’ in Tomohon, Indonesia, from June 30 till July 15, 2010. The participants and the leaders experienced

the course as very enriching. The programme consisted of three parts: ‘A Spiritual Journey’, ‘Basic Attitudes

of CMM Spirituality’, and ‘Our Challenges Here and Now’. Indonesian Brother Anton Sipahutar wrote a report

about it.

The first part of the program started with a personal

reflection on the spiritual journey of each participant.

We looked for the events and experiences in our lives

which have encouraged our vocation. I was able to see

again that my vocation, including the spirituality of CMM,

community life and the international character of our

Congregation, are blessings which strengthen my life as

a brother. My life, however, is also filled with challenges.

It is not easy to grow beyond a selfish attitude, though

such an attitude is damaging for community life and my

service to the poor in the Vincentian spirit. Community

life is indeed richness, due to its diverse membership

and the desire to live as brothers together. But serious

tensions can develop due to immaturity on my part and

on the part of some fellow-brothers. I ask myself if I can

accept criticism and if I am open to improvement.

Brother Vinsent Bahan Tewelu (left) and CMM study

secretary spirituality Mr. Charles van Leeuwen.

‘Mansuete et Fortiter’

Tracing the spiritual journey of our ‘ancestors’ was very

encouraging. It was impressive to hear how Jesus became

the prophet of the Kingdom of God, especially for the

poor. This turn around was also made by our Founder

Joannes Zwijsen. His concern for the poor manifested

itself especially in the founding of the Congregations

SCMM and CMM. Guided by his motto as bishop

‘Mansuete et Fortiter’ (Gentleness and Strength), he tried

to make the Vincentian affective and effective love his

own. Vincent the Paul also experienced a radical personal

development. It was the poor who converted him to

become the apostle of the poor, after he had become

a priest in order to support his family. His approach to

the poor was so special because it rested on a merciful

attitude focused on the whóle person.


After we saw how our spiritual ancestors did it, we were

ready to focus on the basic attitudes of our Congregation:

mercy, brotherhood, simplicity and confidence in divine

Providence. This part of the program was also for me

again a reason for personal reflection. A large mirror was

placed in front of me when mercy was portrayed as a

process of seeing, being moved and getting into action. I

asked myself how does this happen in my life and to what

degree do I make it a reality. The same happened when

brotherhood was spoken about. Then I thought for a long

time how I realized my brotherly lifestyle. The reflection

on simplicity brought me back to the motivations as to

why I try to do good things. Is it an ‘ego’-trip for me or

because I know myself to be a co-worker of God? Are

there ulterior motives or hidden agendas in my life as a

brother who tries to be of service?


From left to right: the Brothers Bruno Maing, Bertholomeus Sinulingga, Sr. Ancilla

Loe, the Brothers Tarcisius Maweikere, Bosco Wuarmanuk, Vinsent Bahan Tewelu.

In front: Brother Adriano van den Berg

(with the little hat) and Brother Wout

van den Hout.

Shining example

The reflections on confidence in divine Providence

were quite a relief for me. I often experience that what

happens in life is a gift, that my life is being guided and

that even my mistakes can turn into something good.

This enables me to live my life as a brother with peace

of mind, accepting that I may continue to grow and that

I do not have to reach the highest level of perfection

now. This enables me to accept the shortcomings in my

fellow-brothers and in my students. It sounded familiar

to hear again that Mary, the Mother of Jesus, can be

such a shining example for us brothers: an icon of mercy.

She also went through a long process to develop into thé

disciple of Jesus and thus become the Mother of Mercy,

just like I myself want to become a ‘brother of mercy’.


Our life as brothers rests on three pillars: prayer,

community, and mission. There we meet our challenges.

It is difficult to live a life of prayer in our times. There is

tension between our prayer life and our service to people,

in which prayer often gets at the short end. I realize

however, that without a regular prayer life our mercy

shrivels up and that we turn from religious servants into

civil servants of social action. That is not enough for a

brother. As brothers we cannot do without community.

It is the home base for our life of service; our practice

field to be brothers of mercy. It is also the place to grow

as a human being, not only individually, but especially by

complimenting in each other in the community, so that

as community members we grow together. I have been

lucky to experience that when this occurs the community

becomes for ourselves and for those around us very

attractive, a witness to the Reign of God. It was a joy to

hear that being a brother is not determined by our work.

What we do as a brother is not as important as what we

do as a merciful brother. It is our mission to be merciful

brothers and to invite others to join us in order to create

a movement of merciful brothers and sisters. The dream

of a worldwide merciful brotherhood is very dear to me.

Happy weeks

The two weeks that we were privileged to journey

rediscovering our spirituality with 29 brothers were

glorious weeks for me. I am proud to be a brother. In spite

of our brokenness, the errors and mistakes we make, it is

an awesome vocation and I really want to go for it! This

sense of pride was strengthened during the enjoyable

meals and times of recreation, the fun trips to our CMM

communities in the neighbourhood, to the island of

Bunaken, Lake Tondano, Bukit Kasih and the celebration

we participated in of the silver jubilee of the Brothers

Bruno Welerubun and Marius Korebima.

Brother Antonius Sipahutar


short news


In the postulate community of Nakuru, Kenya, on

September 11, three brothers made their profession for

life in the presence of the Superior General, Brother

Broer Huitema. “As Superior General I accept your

profession”, he said. “I declare that you have been

accepted for your entire life in our community, the

Congregation of the Brothers of Our Lady, Mother of

Mercy.” In his speech the Superior General noted: “I

hope also that you can see your fellow-brothers as a

gift from God. All of us are brothers of Christ; all of

us are brothers to one another. We are called to live

as brothers with each other, as brother of one another

and as brothers in Christ. Jesus calls us to follow in his


He called you to be merciful brothers of one another,

to be merciful brothers of the people you serve and

to be a brother of Jesus himself. I hope and pray that

you will build up our community for the wellbeing of

our Congregation and the people whom we serve”.

The newly professed members are the Brothers Martin

Okoth Odide, Zacheaus Odhiambo and Johannes

Mateus. Brother Martin is the coordinator of St.

Justino Secondary School in Soweto, Nairobi. Brother

Zacheaus is the formation leader in the postulate

community in Nakuru. Brother Johannes, who is from

Namibia, is active in the Children’s Education Centre in

Usakos, Namibia.

The newly professed brothers cut the cake. From left to right: the Brothers Martin Okoth

Odide, Johannes Mateus, Zacheaus Odiambo.


Preparations are under way in Brazil, Indonesia, Kenya, Namibia, The Netherlands, Tanzania and East Timor for a new

international encounter of the ‘ambassadors of worldwide brotherhood’. The Congregation started this ambassador

project in the build-up to the Catholic World Youth Days in Sydney (15-21 July, 2008) to make young people

enthusiastic dedicating themselves for a global ‘movement of mercy and brotherhood’. The preparatory meeting took

place in Tomohon, on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, in 2008. This time the ambassadors will meet in Tilburg on

the threshold of the World Youth Day in Madrid from 16 to 21 August 2011. The theme of the preparatory course of

the ambassadors is: ‘Jesus our compass, our way to compassion’. This theme will be deepened in two ways. During five

introductory days the ambassadors prepare themselves in their native countries with reflections on biblical stories,

sponsored by the Brothers CMM. Then the ambassadors meet each other in Tilburg and a week is spent on the theme.

Two issues are formulated: ‘Take the road’ and ‘On the go, at the well’. Thereafter the group leaves for Madrid. For more

information see: www.worldwidebrotherhood.com.




About eighty laypeople and religious, whose lives

Vincent de Paul and Louise de Marillac inspired,

gathered on September 28 at the provincialate of the

Sisters SCMM in Tilburg, The Netherlands. They met

to formally conclude the year, which commemorated

the 350 anniversary of their passing, presided over

by Brother Ad de Kok. The steering committee, which

arranges activities for the Vincentian Family, had put

together a program of prayer, reflection, presentations,

and workshops. Frans Bomers, a Vincentian, spoke

about Vincent. Brother Jan Koppens presented

highlights in the life of Louise de Marillac. Sister

Augusta de Groot (Sisters of the Choorstraat) related

some of the impressions of the Vincentian pilgrimage.

The vice-chairman of the Vincent de Paul Society of

The Netherlands, Paul Monchen, described Frédéric

Ozanam as founder and source of inspiration of the

Vincent de Paul Societies. Participants could select

from six workshops in the afternoon. Brother Wout

van den Hout conducted the workshop ‘Zingend bij

de armen’ (Singing among the Poor) and Brother Ad

de Kok developed the theme ‘Een vluchteling aan

het woord’ (An Exile Tells His Story). A prayer service

ended the day.

The steering committee of the Vincentian Family. Left

to right: Wiel Bellemakers CM, Ad de Kok CMM (vicechairman),

Wim Luiten FIC, Sister Renée Geurts SCMM.

Frans Bomers CM delivering his talk about St. Vincent.


The totally renovated CMM website went online in

early October. Its new style harmonizes with the layout

of the quarterly Brothers CMM. Some components

for the website still undergo further development

and expansion. The English and Dutch versions have

been completed. The designers expect to complete

the Indonesian and Portuguese sections by the end

of 2010. The site opens with a mission statement,

inspirational citations, and the latest news. Other links

give information about the history of the Congregation,

CMM spirituality, and the areas where the brothers

live and work. One can click on links such as ‘media’,

‘publications’, ‘links to other websites’, ‘contact’, and

‘join’. The last two are links to support the brothers

work and make personal contacts. The site’s address is



the netherlands




The first issue of ‘Fraters CMM’ (2005) contained a

contribution by Rien Vissers, CMM archivist, with the

title: ‘Brothers and authors of Curaçao’. The brothers

had taught, among others, the Antillean authors Tip

Marugg, Jules de Palm, and Frank Martinus Arion. These

writers occasionally refer to the brothers in their books

and interviews. Tip Marugg, who had a Protestant

background, spoke with great admiration of the

instruction he had received from Brother Franciscus van

Dieten. Recently the archivist made a special ‘literary’

discovery. A report of his findings follows.

Cola Debrot’s portrait.

Recently I found a fine little box, tucked away

somewhere in the vast archives of the brothers. It

contained an engraved silver cup. Upon opening the

box I initially could only read: ‘Curaçao 1916 N. Debrot’.

I immediately thought of the well-known author and

diplomat Cola Debrot, founder of the Antillean-Dutch

literature movement. I then read the entire inscription:

Recuerdo à mi appreciable

maestro fr. Herman

Curaçao 1916

N. Debrot

(‘A memento to my esteemed teacher Br. Herman’. Cola

signed with the letter of his first name: Nicolaas.)

The Antillean affiliation of the brothers with the authors

went much further back than I had realized in 2005.

Cola Debrot (1902-1981) hailed from a rich Antillean

plantation family. His father’s family had a Protestant-

Swiss background, his mother a Catholic-Venezuelan

heritage. His father spoke mostly Papiamento, his mother

Spanish. The family held liberal views on religious issues.

Still, they had good reasons to send the young Cola to

St. Thomas College of Willemstad, Curaçao, because it

had a great reputation. J.J. Oversteegen writes this in

the first part of the biography In het schuim van grauwe

wolken: het leven van Cola Debrot tot 1948 (In the Froth

of Grey Clouds: Cola Debrot’s Life until 1948). Most of the

details in this article are taken from this book, published

in 1994.


Class picture taken during the first years after 1910. Cola Debrot: first row, second from the right.

The Antillean language debate

Debrot took Dutch literature classes with Brother

Herman Walboomers (1883-1967) during his last two

years at St. Thomas College. They covered the period

from 1914 through 1916. Brother Herman had arrived

at Curaçao in 1914 and lived on the island until 1919.

After his stay in Curaçao he taught Dutch for some

decades at the Diocesan Teacher Training College in

’s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands. Brother Herman

used strict discipline in his classes and managed to

make Dutch the language all students would be able to

handle comfortably (before his arrival only the students

in the more advanced classes managed to use the

language adequately). He became intensely involved in

the Antillean debate about language usage. The brothers

promoted the Dutch language in the Dutch Antilles

as well as in Surinam. They did this because, among

others, the students would have better opportunities in

their pursuit of higher education. Pastors showed more

interest in the local languages since that would help

them to remain closer to the people in their pastoral


Top of the class

Brother Herman, who completed his Master’s in Dutch

literature in 1911, had an intense interest in poetry, as

Brother Franciscus van Dieten did later. Brother Herman

inspired Cola Debrot. It kindled the latter’s admiration

of the Flemish poet Gezelle for the rest of his life. In

the years at the college this boy, who belonged to the

Antillean upper class, had many conversations with the

brother. After his finals the boy went to The Netherlands

to pursue higher education in Nijmegen. As token of

appreciation he presented this beautiful cup to Brother

Herman. The archives also contain two portraits he gave

his former teacher. Debrot wrote his name on one class

picture. It shows Brother Herman on the veranda in the

background. Oversteegen incorporated this picture in

his biography. The brother continued to take pride in his

alumnus and admired him as his best pupil who had such

outstanding achievements in the Dutch language.

First publication

Cola Debrot published his famous first work in 1935

Mijn zuster de negerin (My Black Sister), a beautiful,

tightly constructed novella, which imitated the style

of his friend and author E. du Perron and the literary

periodical Forum. He was a well-known author, became

a physician, and served as governor of The Netherlands

Antilles for some years. It remains odd that Cola Debrot,

who had gained such perfect command of Dutch under

the guidance of Brother Herman, presented a cup with

a Spanish inscription to express his gratitude. Or had his

mother commissioned the engraving?

Rien Vissers


in memoriam


Maximiliaan (A.M.J.)

van Litsenburg


Patrick (P.) Kapteijns

He was born in Eindhoven, The Netherlands, on

July 31, 1920 and entered the Congregation of the

Brothers of Our Lady, Mother of Mercy, in Tilburg,

The Netherlands, on September 8, 1937. He made

his profession for life on August 15, 1942. He passed

away on June 26, 2010 in the brotherhouse of

Zonhoven, Belgium, and was buried at the cemetery of


In 1959 Brother Maximiliaan became a group leader at

the Koninklijk Instituut voor Doven en Spraakgestoorden

(KIDS) (Royal Institute for the Deaf and the Speech

Impaired) in Hasselt, Belgium. Earlier, from 1938 until

1950 he worked at the printing house of the Roman

Catholic Boys’ Orphanage in Tilburg, The Netherlands.

Later, he took on the task of group leader at the boarding

school of the brothers in Goirle, The Netherlands. When

Brother Max started his work at KIDS he found there a

brand new, but extremely poorly equipped building. With

his numerous talents, he substantially improved and

embellished it. He guided the community in Hasselt as

superior and deputy superior. After the brotherhouse in

Hasselt closed in 1955, he moved to Zonhoven. Brother

Max was a cordial man who loved to be around people,

an entertaining talker with a great sense of humour who

showed sociable sensitivity in his readiness to serve

others. In many ways he could be compared to the

Italian congenial saint of the sixteenth century, Philip

Neri. Just like Philip, Brother Max had talents to help

others feel good and happy in many different ways and

bring them closer to God. He was well equipped for that

task. He brought thousands of people joy and happiness

with his skills as magician, illusionist, calligrapher, artist,

and composer of poems to celebrate special occasions.

Brother Max’ talents were an integral part of his religious

life. They gave a unique touch to his life as a brother.

He was born in Sint-Michielsgestel, The Netherlands,

on July 21, 1933 and entered the Congregation of the

Brothers of Our Lady, Mother of Mercy, in Tilburg,

The Netherlands, on March 19, 1950. He made his

profession for life on August 15, 1955. He passed away

on September 26, 2010 in St. Elisabeth Hospital in

Tilburg and was buried at the brothers’ cemetery at the

Estate Steenwijk in Vught, The Netherlands.

Brother Patrick was a typical representative of the

Congregation. He loved the brothers with whom he lived in

community and the youth who were entrusted to his care.

He lived in Tilburg from 1961 until 1966 and taught there

at St. Stefanus Secondary School. He studied biology,

botany, and geology at the University of Cork, Ireland to

prepare for his work in Kenya where the Congregation

sent him in 1970. He started teaching in Kenya at the

Teacher Training College in Asumbi. After that, he taught

at Cardinal Otunga High School in Mosocho. The twenty

years he lived in Asumbi and Mosocho were for him the

best years of his life. In his spare time he collected rocks,

enjoyed the exotic flora, and developed his artistic talents.

He moved to the community in Sikri in 1993, and in 1996

to the brotherhouse in Nairobi-Umoja. He returned to

The Netherlands in 2006 and took up residence at the

Joannes Zwijsen community in Tilburg. He radiated a

special presence among his fellow-brothers, which found

its expression in the stories he shared, his encyclopedic

knowledge, cheerfulness, and sense of humour. His sudden

death in the hospital jolted the community, his family, and

his friends. We entrust him now to the Risen Lord.





A winged word from Zwijsen

Zwijsen gave his sisters the motto: ‘Love without self-love’. That was not a call to be dissatisfied

with yourself, think negatively about yourself, or belittle yourself. Rather, the call to ‘love

without self-love is a plea for authenticity!

‘Love without self-love’ is an appeal to accept yourself

and be unselfish in your love for others. Because there is

love that actually does not deserve to be called love. You

can be charitable with all kinds of ulterior motives. You

can do noble work, yet pursue only your own personal

satisfaction. You can be impressively committed, while

constantly looking for applause of others. You can do a

lot of good work, and still systematically draw attention

to yourself.

St. Paul wrote about this ‘love without self-love’ in his

Canticle of Love (1 Cor. 13). He says: “Love is not pompous.

It is not inflated; it does not seek its own interest.

It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things,

and endures all things.” ‘Loving without self-love’ also

implies that for evangelical love you have to be a little

foolish and calculation should not enter into it.

Brother Harrie van Geene







(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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