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CONTENTS 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.





COLOPHON Brothers CMM appears three times a year and is a publication of the Congregation of the Brothers of Our Lady, Mother of Mercy. A subscription is free of charge. A voluntary contribution is appreciated at ING Bank Account for Fraters CMM Tilburg, IBAN: NL30INGB0001068517 (BIC: INGBNL2A). ISSN 1877-6256 Editorial Board: Nathalie Bastiaansen (executive editor and chief editor), Brother Edward Gresnigt, Brother Ad de Kok Contributors: Brother Peter Narwadan, Mascha van Kleef, Brother Lambertus Kato’o, Brother Paul Orobi, Brother Lukas Betekeneng, Charles van Leeuwen, Brother Yosef Trisno Kono, Brother Agustinus Nai Aki Translation: Nathalie Bastiaansen, Brother Edward Gresnigt, Peter Huybers, Father Jan van der Kaa AA, Tony Verhallen Design: Layout: Printing:

Heldergroen, The Netherlands DekoVerdivas, The Netherlands Franciscan Kolbe Press, Kenya

Contact: Brothers CMM, Rhapta Road, P.O.Box 14916 Nairobi, Westlands 00800, Kenya E-mail: Brother Leo van de Weijer: Contact: Brothers CMM, P.O.Box 89, Windhoek, Namibia E-mail: Brother Athanasius Onyoni: E-mail: Website: Photograph front cover: Brother Petrus Lein during the communications training (photo: Brother Peter Narwadan). The Prodigal Son, Rembrandt.


Photograph back cover: Portrait of Joannes Zwijsen, artist unknown (photo: Nathalie Bastiaansen).










FROM THE EDITORIAL BOARD On 25 August 1844, the very first brother began his novitiate. Since then this day has been celebrated as the founding day of the Congregation, and in 2019 the Congregation celebrates its 175th anniversary. The Jubilee Year started already on 25 August 2018. It is a year of celebrations, commemorations, and special activities. Articles in this magazine and on the website (www.cmmbrothers. org) related to the anniversary year can be recognised by the logo that was made by the Superior General Brother Lawrence Obiko. In the previous edition of Brothers CMM we published the final column of the section ‘Concerning Brother Andreas’. The farewell to this section makes room for a new series, entitled ‘Concerning Joannes Zwijsen’. These new columns are based on the History of the Brothers of Our Lady Mother of Mercy, volume 1: ‘Bishop Zwijsen and his First Brothers’, by Charles van Leeuwen (Valkhof Pers, 2014). The editorial board is grateful to Charles van Leeuwen for the many contributions to the series about Brother Andreas. The columns about Brother Andreas have now been compiled and published in the book: De wereld van frater Andreas (The World of Brother Andreas), by Charles van Leeuwen (Fraters CMM, 2017). In October of this year 13 brothers from different countries gathered for a training in the fields of communication, journalism and video making. From now on, the names of these new brother-reporters will appear regularly in this magazine and on the website. The editorial board is happy with this acquisition and hopes to be able to offer you many inspiring contributions.












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Our journey through history brought us to this special year: the Jubilee Year in the run-up to the 175th anniversary of the Congregation. What is to be done in this year? A jubilee is a festive event. Together we celebrate our existence, in gratitude and in joy, we eat together, party together, and we thank God for bringing us so far. A jubilee also invites us to look back and look forward. It shows us three mirrors: in the first mirror we see Joannes Zwijsen, in the second mirror we see the Congregation, and in the third mirror we see a compass. In the first mirror we see our founder Joannes Zwijsen. The first sentence in our Constitutions reads: ‘Bishop Joannes Zwijsen wanted the spirit of the Lord to reign in his foundations and to animate them thoroughly.’ Zwijsen was inspired by the Spirit of God, and he wanted his sisters and brothers to have the same inspiration. The second mirror shows us the Congregation in the world of then and now. We see the needs of people, especially children, that led Joannes Zwijsen to bring together sisters and brothers. Their task was ‘to serve and enlighten, to speak a redeeming word, to be a helping hand.’ The Congregation originated in a poor Dutch industrial town, but now we are represented worldwide. In those 175 years, not everything went well. Especially in the early years, the mission may

have paid too little attention to local cultures. We also know the black pages of child abuse, and sometimes the urge for success distracted us from what was really important. This second mirror answers the question: Where did we come from? But it also raises new questions: where are we now? Why are we present at the moment in Indonesia, in East Timor, in Kenya, Tanzania, Namibia, Brazil, in the Netherlands and Belgium? If we want a better world for everyone, this implies a task for us. We need to pay attention to the poor, the needy, the lonely, the vulnerable. This concerns us all, personally. Do I feel called to build on the work of my predecessors? How can I serve and enlighten? What is my redeeming word? How do I put brotherhood and mercy into practice? The third mirror shows us a compass that helps us with these questions. Again, we see Joannes Zwijsen, and he shows us the way: focus on God, living a simple life with Jesus your Merciful Brother and Vincent de Paul as an example, and with Mary, our Mother of Mercy as our patroness.

Brother Lawrence Obiko in an interview with Nathalie Bastiaansen



CAESARIUS MOMMERS, FATHER OF READING EDUCATION IN THE NETHERLANDS AND FLANDERS On Friday, 5 October 2018, a festive symposium took place at the Cultural Centre Jan van Besouw in Goirle (The Netherlands), in honour of Brother Caesarius Mommers (1925-2007). of Amsterdam with his dissertation about Caesarius Mommers. In his presentation ‘A Life of Service in Reading Education’ he attributed the strength of Brother Caesarius’ method to the fact that as a religious brother he could devote much time to his method, but also that his new insights were solidly founded on research and that the timing for his method was perfect.


Brother Caesarius Mommers is also known as the ‘Father of Reading Education in the Netherlands and Flanders’. With his reading methods and publication of more than 280 books and articles Brother Caesarius Mommers has made a significant contribution toward reading education in the Netherlands and Flanders. With his method so far 10 million children have learned how to read.

A moving moment was presented by the Dutch writer Ivo de Wijs, who had been a pupil in Brother Fulgens Brugmans’ sixth grade and who had encouraged Ivo to write and to perform. As a writer and entertainer, Ivo befriended Brother Fulgens at a later age in Amsterdam. Brother Jan Koppens, the provincial superior of the brothers in the Netherlands, selected one of several paintings by Brother Fulgens, which he gave to Ivo de Wijs as a present. This in gratitude for Ivo de Wijs’ beautiful account of the brothers’ education in Tilburg, the comical adventures of Puk and Muk, but especially for his tribute of Brother Fulgens and many other brothers.



In a lecture entitled ‘A Modest Methodologist’, Ger Jansen, the former director of the Publishing House Zwijsen’, described Brother Caesarius as ‘modesty impersonated’. As the chief editor of his method, Brother Caesarius often said ‘to be standing on the shoulders of others’. He knew how to hold on to his co-workers and never prided himself that he had made the best reading method in the Netherlands.

The symposium was attended by many co-workers of Brother Caesarius who as author, illustrator, researcher, or publisher have contributed or still contribute to the most successful Dutch reading method. Several fellow brothers were also present, among whom three former superior generals: Brother Wim Verschuren, Brother Harrie van Geene, and Brother Broer Huitema, who during their terms in office provided Brother Caesarius with the possibilities to abundantly develop his talents for his young readers.

A page from the reading method Veilig Leren Lezen (Learning to Read Safely) (1963) by Brother Caesarius Mommers.

Vision In 2019 Sjak Rutten plans to publish a biography about Brother Caesarius. In the spring of that year he also hopes to earn his PhD degree at the University

Brother Edward Gresnigt



The store in Manado.

STATUES OF MARY AND MUCH MORE Worldwide the Congregation is being confronted with all sorts of material and spiritual needs. The brothers, together with others, are trying to alleviate these. The eleventh episode of this feature presents the religious shop in Manado, Indonesia. In Indonesia, the brothers manage four shops with religious goods (toko rohani). These stores are in Manado (Sulawesi), Medan (Sumatra), Gunung Sitoli (Nias), and Balige (Sumatra). The religious good stores provide many items, including rosaries, statues, bibles, spiritual books, chasubles, church bells, chalices, Easter candles and much, much more. The bells are made in Yogyakarta on Java, the statues of saints come from Klaten, a village near Yogyakarta. The chasubles are made by local sisters. The stores provide a source of income for the brothers and are also intended to promote the religious culture and reading habits among the people. The pictures for this article were taken in the store in Manado. Besides the religious goods the pupils of the nearby Frater Don Bosco School can also purchase their uniforms, school badges and school supplies. 6

Pictures: Brother Peter Narwadan and Mascha van Kleef. On YouTube you can also view a video capturing the ambiance of the store in Manado, created by Brother Peter Narwadan and Brother Lambertus Kato’o. You can find the video on with the keywords ‘CMM Indonesia toko rohani’, or scan the QR code with your phone.

Brother Danny Latumahina, store manager.



Bibles and books on spirituality.

Brother Lambertus Kato’o engrossed in a book.

The Brothers Rosario and Trisno consider the selection of books.



Statues of saints, chasubles, books and much more!

The store also carries school uniforms, and supplies for Don Bosco School Manado.

Mary and Jesus are well represented here.

A sticker of Mary is always a welcome present.

The Brothers Danny and Lambertus.



ON A JOURNEY WITH GOD The Congregation of Brothers CMM was founded on August 25, 1844. Since then, the brothers have travelled a long historic journey together with their compassionate God. The apostolate of the Congregation in the world has always been inspired by the mercy we ourselves have received from God. God wants us to be his instruments in helping and serving others. Saint Vincent, our patron saint, is our example. Vincent de Paul did not hesitate to say that divine Providence is a reality that we can rely on.

Divine Providence The generosity of God towards the Congregation of the Brothers CMM can also be identified as divine Providence of the merciful God. We experience and enjoy God’s mercy continuously through the growth and development of the Congregation. Consciously or not, we believe that our development and the continued support that we experience comes from God’s guidance and love.

Spirit of mercy Because of God’s merciful love, God has sent and still sends his spirit to mankind, so that his love can spread through us and be experienced by everyone who believes in him. The same spirit was also experienced and accepted by our founder Joannes Zwijsen. It inspired him to start the Congregation of the Sisters SCMM and the Brothers CMM. ‘Bishop Joannes Zwijsen wanted the spirit of the Lord to reign in his foundations and to animate them thoroughly’ (Const. I, 1).

Our task: to be moved by mercy The founder of the Congregation realised that the spirit of the Lord was powerful and that this spirit was imbued in the foundation, the existence, and the continuation of the journey of the Congregation. God’s spirit is the most important guide of the Congregation while confronting the waves and storms on its pilgrimage. God’s spirit is also the fire that illuminates and encourages the members of the Congregation when they experience darkness or despair. Our Congregation is present and established because of God’s mercy and it is our task to be ‘moved by mercy’. ‘We consider it to be our task to co-operate in building a more humane world, to devote ourselves to the Kingdom of justice and peace. Concrete wants and human needs called our Congregation into existence. Being of service is our task in life.’ (Const. I, 27-29). This was our task from the beginning, and it still is today. In our journey through history we are part of the history and current events of the Divine Mission. Brother Lambertus Kato’o (Indonesia)



ONCE A RASCAL, ALWAYS A RASCAL? In Kenya the brothers are involved in the Fr. Grol’s Welfare Trust. This foundation offers prisoners the opportunity for education, and provides for them books, glasses, sports equipment and medicines. There is also a small team of social workers that focuses on guiding young people in the Kamiti Youth Correction and Training Centre (YCTC) in Nairobi, Kenya. Most kids in prisons for juveniles have a problematic background: slums, domestic violence, drug addicted parents, and so on. They know hunger, lack of shelter, and lack of attention. These young prisoners come from different parts of Kenya, and those who lived far from Nairobi hardly get any visitors. Even if the family does live in Nairobi, they often do not seek contact. Some parents do not want their child to come home again. They prefer him to stay in prison. The family and neighbours do not believe that these children can change.

Awareness With the social workers, the children can share their stories. They experience friendship and trust, and this makes them more open in sharing their concerns. In the process of sharing they also become aware of the pain they have caused to their victims and family. At the same time, it gives them the determination to get their lives back on track, for example by wanting to go back to school, seeking forgiveness from their parents, or looking for an honest job.

Connection The counsellors try to be a link between the young people and their parents or caretakers. They seek contact with the parents and tell them that they have accompanied the child and witnessed change. Sometimes also the parents themselves need emotional support to change their attitude towards the child.

Aftercare Reconciliation with the family is essential for the future of young prisoners. The social workers would like to stay more in touch with kids who leave prison, to help them return to school or start a small business. Often the family also asks for this after the child is released: ‘Right now we need you more than ever!’ Unfortunately, there is still a lack of money to organise this aftercare in a good way.

Prospective The work is rewarding. Sister Anna Lucia wrote: ‘We witness wonder and joy when these young people dare to look positively at their future again. They say: “I have been changed by you. Now I want to be like you and help others”.’ This is a source of joy and gratitude for the brothers and the staff; God took these children out of the captivity of their past and gave them a future. Nathalie Bastiaansen

With thanks to Sr. Anna Lucia, Agnes W. Macharia, and Esther N. Mbuthia for their reports on the work in the YCTC.



STORIES FROM PRISON Don’t pay a wrong deed with a wrong one Brother Paul Orobi currently works as a missionary in Tanzania, but until recently he worked in the prison apostolate of the Fr. Grol’s Welfare Trust in Nairobi, Kenya. There he heard some remarkable stories. Mr. Fredrick and his friend Mr. John were both mason workers. The two of them always worked together at the same construction site. They did their things in common and even bought the same clothes. This made it very difficult to differentiate who is who amongst the two. One morning John reported to work early, and he discovered that the lady owner of that homestead, Mrs. Caroline was not around. She had gone to the market and left her young daughter Nelly alone. John took advantage and abused Nelly.

A terrible mistake After this horrible deed he ran away, leaving Nelly traumatised and in shock. Upon returning Mrs. Caroline noticed that her daughter was crying and in pain. By this time Fredrick had come to work, unaware. The mother asked her young daughter what happened. Nelly told her about the worker who had harmed her so bad. Mrs. Caroline reported the matter to the police, Fredrick was arrested, and sentenced to sixteen years imprisonment. Nelly was still in shock and not able to remember details. She didn’t realise they caught the wrong one.

Learning to forgive While in prison for those seven years, he learned that there were many more people who were wrongly convicted. Yet, despite being behind bars they were always preaching on how to forgive those who made land them in jail. In the beginning, this sounded strange to him; why forgive those who accused you falsely? But he kept listening.

Not too late Fredrick discovered that the seven years he had spent in prison had not been in vain. He had learned that forgiveness is an act of mercy, that forgiveness leads to inner freedom and peace and tranquillity, even when he was still behind bars. Before he ended up in prison, he had not been aware of this wealth. Some people think he should claim compensation for seven years lost. But Fredrick has no intention of suing Nelly or her mother. His true freedom was achieved by forgiving them. Brother Paul Orobi (Tanzania)

7 years lost After seven years, the young Nelly finally came to her senses and remembered what happened that day. She realised that they had jailed the wrong person. The court case was reopened, and Fredrick got back his freedom after being behind bars for seven years. At long last he was a free man again.



QUILLING ART BY BROTHER LUKAS BETEKENENG Since the opening of the Joannes Zwijsen residential care facility in Tilburg in 2008, there is a small alternating exhibition on the fourth floor displaying some hobby work of brothers, such as collections, paintings, drawings or calligraphy. It gives a different, sometimes unknown insight in the makers. Some brothers in other countries also have unexpected creative talents. This feature will put a selection from this work in the spotlight. Part 3 of this rubric depicts quilling art by Brother Lukas Betekeneng, an Indonesian brother who now lives and works as a missionary in Brazil.

History Quilling or paper filigree is said to be China’s ancient art, but the exact origin is unknown. The craftwork was spread throughout the world by Chinese traders, especially in India and ancient Egypt. During the Renaissance, in the convents of Europe, mainly in France (but also in Egypt, China and India), nuns used this technique to decorate book covers and prayer texts. Originally, the material used was from leaves of palm trees. Today, colourful papers are used. In my family, only my grandmother knew how to make it using palm leaves. It still reminds me a little of the artistic activities of my grandparents.

Today I am not an artist, but I enjoy discovering and learning to create art. I use it as a medium to convey the message of beauty and inner harmony. When I arrived in Brazil in 1994, I used to make it on a smaller scale and then I wrote little messages or poetry on it to learn Portuguese, but after that I stopped. Three years


ago, I resumed it as therapy after surgeries. Currently, I facilitate workshops in quilling as a school and family integration program at Colégio Padre Eustáquio. Brother Lukas Betekeneng (Brazil)


Concerning Joannes Zwijsen

bridge builder

Mill in Kerkdriel, approx. 1900. Jan Zwijsen was born in 1794, several years after the start of the French Revolution. He grew up during a period of strong anti-Catholic sentiment. It turned him into a fierce campaigner for the Catholic cause and a very sensitive man whenever religious freedom seemed under threat.

young daughters. Several years later he remarried and another eleven children were born: seven daughters and four sons. Jan was the oldest child from the second marriage. He said jokingly that he had learned to obey his strict father and bossy sisters as well as to direct the band of little children.

Border area

He would benefit all his life from this, because he got on very well with children, but he had also learned a lot from his older sisters. He knew how to get on with women, which proved particularly useful in later life. As a parish priest he was reliant on the support of his female parishioners and as a founder he sometimes had to deal with strong personalities in the Congregation.

His place of birth, Kerkdriel, lay between the rivers Rhine and Meuse. This cultural and religious borderland between the big rivers marked the division between the Protestant north and the Catholic south. It was a kind of religious in-between area. He had not grown up in a region where Catholic culture was taken for granted, nor did he come from a province where suppression of Roman Catholicism was the norm. It was significant that the later archbishop came from this border area. For north and south he became a bridge builder. Zwijsen's familiarity with the border region also became meaningful to his brothers and sisters. Just like their founder, the congregations would not hesitate to cross the big rivers and develop in both the north and the south. They recruited members throughout the country and created a geographicallymixed community.

Obey and lead Zwijsen grew up in a large miller’s family. His father had lost his first wife young and was left with three 14

Gentle and strong As the son of a miller and grain merchant, Jan also learned the importance of getting along well with customers. He became an engaging and charming man, a great storyteller and a clever negotiator. Just like his father, he was ambitious and strong-willed, but at the same time practical and realistic. It is said that Zwijsen had already learned to deal with the two poles of what was later to become his motto: the mansuete of his gentle mother and the fortiter of his authoritarian father. Based on‘Bishop Zwijsen and his First Brothers’, History of the Brothers of Our Lady Mother of Mercy, part 1, by Charles van Leeuwen (Valkhof Pers, 2014).


A PASSION FOR HEALTHCARE To celebrate the opening of the Jubilee Year of the Brothers CMM, the brothers of the community in Aek Tolang organised a special event, together with the staff of their St. Lukas Polyclinic. In the months of November and December 2018, they offered special social assistance to people of the Holy Spirit Parish, at Gomo and of St. Francis Parish in Pangaribuan. The brothers are mainly known for their work in education, but with this initiative they highlight the work of the brothers in healthcare. The social activities were supported by the Sibolga Diocese and the CMM youth movement Ambassadors of a Worldwide Brotherhood, in Sibolga.

How it started In 2001, the late Brother Herman Ratuanak CMM started a small polyclinic with a pharmacy in one of the dormitories of the Boarding School St. Bonaventure, in Aek Tolang. Initially, it was used only as a school healthcare facility for the students of the adjacent secondary school. As time went on, there were also patients from outside who wanted to be treated here. Brother Herman Ratuanak went searching for co-workers and formed a team to be of service to more people. Increasingly more patients kept on coming, people from Catholic backgrounds, but also people from different religions. They were - and are all welcome.

Entrance to the Polyclinic St. Lukas.

Dedication The brothers who work in the polyclinic St. Lukas do so with a great sense of service and dedication. This has a positive effect on the people who come here for treatment. They are being welcomed with heartfelt love by the brothers and staff of the polyclinic. The patients feel they are being seen and listened to. Sometimes an elaborate medical treatment is not necessary or possible, but a smile can also be remedial.

Satisfied patients The beneficial effect of attention and a smile also comes to the fore in the stories of the patients who often return for treatment. ‘When she goes to another hospital, she doesn’t really feel better. She wants to be treated only by Brother Agustinus Farneubun or Dr. Nainggolan’, says the son of one of the regular patients. Sometimes there are people who knock at the door at night, not for medical treatment, but to make a short walk through the park near the polyclinic or just to have a chat. That too is possible here. Brother Yosef Trisno Kono (Indonesia)

Seeing the doctor. 15


TEN YEARS RESIDENTIAL CARE FACILITY ‘JOANNES ZWIJSEN’ During the first weeks of September 2008, a big event took place in the Dutch Province of the Brothers CMM: the brothers who lived at the temporary accommodation at the Bredaseweg, the brothers of the Reusel community, and those of the Kruisvaarderstraat in Tilburg, moved into their new home, the residential care facility ‘Joannes Zwijsen’, in Tilburg. In April 2018, the focus during the special afternoon for the province was ‘Ten Years Residential Care Facility Joannes Zwijsen’. Nathalie Bastiaansen, staff member of the general board, guided the brothers into the beautiful text of the final chorus of the Ninth Symphony of Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’, a song about joy and brotherhood. In a presentation, photos were shown of all the brothers who had lived or were still residing at the residential care facility Joannes Zwijsen.

Glossy "@Zwijsen" For the months of September and October 2018, there was an elaborate jubilee programme for all the residents. On Wednesday, 19 September, the festivities were officially opened with the presentation of a beautiful ‘glossy’, which looked back at the past ten years. The programme also set aside time to satisfy one’s appetite in the form of an afternoon tea, a surprise dinner, a Brabant brunch and pizza tasting. The neighbourhood also joined in the festivities with a neighbours’ day and there was an afternoon when they visited the Generalate. The festivities were concluded with an impressive celebration of Founder’s Day, remembering Joannes Zwijsen on 16 October, with Bishop De Korte presiding at the Eucharist.

CMM INTERNATIONAL COMMUNICATION TRAINING 2018 From 1 to 13 October 2018, thirteen Brothers from different countries took part in an intensive communication training in Tomohon, Indonesia. The training was facilitated by the general board in collaboration with the provincial board of the brothers in Indonesia. The lectures were presented by Nathalie Bastiaansen (International Communication Office Brothers CMM), Mascha van Kleef (Freelance Filmmaker), Maria Julyani (Programme Assistant) and Brother Rofinus Banunaek (General Board). Rev. Steven Lalu, head of Communication of the Manado Diocese (Sulawesi, Indonesia), presented two inspiring guest lectures. The new ‘Brother-reporters’, now form the first International Communication Team of the Congregation. In the future you will frequently come across their names as authors of articles in this magazine, notices and videos on the website. 16

They are the Brothers Frans Linus, Paskalis Wangga, Petrus Lein, Wilfridus Bria, Yosef Trisno Kono, Agustinus Nai Aki, Lambertus Kato’o (Indonesia), Augustine Monari, Cyprian Mbashu (Kenya), Paul Orobi (Tanzania), Rosario de Jesus Martins (Brazil), Petrus Narwadan (East Timor) and John Kabalumpa (Nabimia). Congratulations!!



JUBILEES IN 2019 60 years 29 August: Brother Johannes Berchmans van Berkel, Brother John H. Grever, Brother Leo van de Weijer

25 years 1 May: Brother Agustinus Abi, Brother Ciprianus Angkadai, Brother Silvino Belo, Brother Bruno Maing, Brother Rufinus Ndruru 20 October: Brother Cyprian Mbashu, Brother James Ochwangi Nyakundi


Ferdinand (M.P.M.) Lemmers Mathias Lemmers was born on April 23, 1938 in Beers, the Netherlands and entered the Congregation of the Brothers of Our Lady, Mother of Mercy on August 29, 1957. There he was given the religious name ‘Brother Ferdinand’. He made his profession for life on August 15, 1963. He died in the community of Joannes Zwijsen in Tilburg on August 29, 2018 and was buried at the brothers’ cemetery at the Estate Steenwijk in Vught, the Netherlands. Brother Ferdinand worked at several primary schools in the Netherlands. He spoke with great enthusiasm about his time in Utrecht, where he lived for 36 years. For nine years he was coordinator of the technical department in Utrecht, after which he became a full-time employee of ‘Supply and Demand International’, in Culemborg. He was particularly interested in the technical side of that work. His life changed when he was struck by several severe strokes in 2000 and 2004. He became paralysed and ended up in a wheelchair. Emotionally Brother Ferdinand had difficulty accepting his limitations. Regularly he had a conversation with a life coach, and a fellow brother took it upon himself to be fraternally close to him. His family showed great understanding for his situation, and the staff of the residential care facility Joannes Zwijsen surrounded him with great concern. The last days of his life Brother Ferdinand had to experience again that his body became dysfunctional. He gave up the fight. We are now letting him go. God, whom we may call the Merciful One, has received him in his great love, in which there is room for everyone.





Roberto (W.J.) Creemers

Sjaak (J.J.W.) Maas

Roberto was born on 6 May 1925 in rural Elen and entered the Congregation of the Brothers of Our Lady, Mother of Mercy on 19 March 1945, at Tilburg. He made his profession for life on 15 August 1949. He passed away on 30 June 2018, in the community of St. Jan Berchmans, at the residential care facility ‘Het Dorpvelt’, in Zonhoven, Belgium. He was buried at the cemetery Zonhoven-Centrum.

Sjaak was born on 29 April 1928, in Tilburg, and entered the Congregation of the Brothers of Our Lady, Mother of Mercy on 29 August 1945. He made his profession for life on 15 August 1950. He passed away at St. Elisabeth Hospital in Tilburg on 23 August 2018. He was buried in the cemetery at the estate Steenwijk of the brothers in Vught, the Netherlands. In Mosocho, Kenya, a Requiem Mass was celebrated the same day by his fellow brothers and (former) students of Cardinal Otunga High School.

The life of Brother Roberto was characterised by education and catechesis. His religious mission took him to Zonhoven, Maaseik, Lanaken and Hasselt. He worked as a teacher, became headmaster and head of the professional training of ‘KIDS’ (Royal Institute for Deaf and Hearing Impaired). Brother Roberto has always tried to dedicate his talents for the young ones, especially for children with disabilities. But he also put great value and emphasis on a spirit of service within his community. He became superior of a community, deputy superior, member of the provincial board and later of the regional board of the brothers in Belgium. Brother Roberto was a deeply spiritual man. Prayer life, personally and as a member of the community, received his full attention and it became his driving force throughout his life. He grew into a deep bond with Mother Mary and Jesus. As he fell ill, that became the source of his surrender to God’s will. His suffering and his loss of energy he offered up to his Lord and Creator. He often prayed: ‘Into your hands, Lord, I commend my spirit.’


On 29 April 1928, Sjaak was born in the family MaasVan de Gevel. In 1945 Sjaak entered the Congregation and was given the religious name Brother Macharius. When after the General Chapter of 1958 the baptismal name was allowed, he chose to use ‘Brother Sjaak’. He was a man close to nature; biology was his favourite subject. At the end of 1961 he was sent as brotherteacher to Mosocho, in Kenya. Brother Sjaak instilled in his students the love of flora and fauna. His elaborate herbarium became a real jewel. In silence and simplicity, he went through life serving others, faithful in his prayer life. In 2012, he personally received an Apostolic Blessing from Pope Benedict XIV on the occasion of the Centenary of Catholic Evangelization in Kisii. It was for Brother Sjaak, after more than 50 years in his beloved Kenia, not easy to return to the Netherlands. At his farewell the local people gave him the honorary title of ‘Mzee’ (Wise Man). His death on 23 August 2018 came unexpectedly. In faith and trust we know that after a fruitful life he has been welcomed by his Merciful God.


SERVING PEOPLE THROUGH PRAYERS Mercy and brotherhood are two key concepts in the charism of the Brothers CMM. Beautiful words. But what happens in the reality of the everyday life of the brothers? That’s what is highlighted in this feature ‘See my People’.

Prayer and action On Thursday evenings he has a regular meeting with a group of Catholic elders in Tomohon. During these meetings he leads the prayer and reflections. In these meetings the group also discusses the activities they can do, like visiting the sick and praying for them, or raising funds for the poor or needy. Also, on other occasions, such as Thanksgiving Day, birthday celebrations, or funeral ceremonies, Brother Willem is always available to lead the prayers. He is very happy to help those who ask for his assistance, and people will ask him often, because they love the way he leads the prayers.

Learning to pray

Brother Willem Beslar leads in prayer. As Brothers CMM we are invited to serve all people without any distinction and complaint. We serve those who need us. So, every second and fourth Sunday of the month, Brother Willem Beslar (Manado, Indonesia) serves the sick people at Saint Michael’s Parish, in Manado. He delivers Holy Communion to the homes of sick people who can’t go to church. Also, every first Friday, he provides this communion service for the sick people in the Holy Spirit Parish, in Tomohon.

As a teacher at the Junior High School Frater Don Bosco Manado, Brother Willem teaches the students how to pray. From him they learn how to lead the prayers every morning and afternoon at school. And as a school counsellor he also prays with the students before they start talking about the problems students face at school or at home. In this case, prayer is very important to help find ways to solve the students’ problems.

Prayer as an answer For Brother Willem Beslar, prayer is always an answer. ‘God, here I am’. He is very motivated in serving others through prayers. The Constitutions of the Brothers CMM state that being of service is our task in life (Const. I, 29). For Brother Willem, praying for others and together with others is a way to fulfil this task. Praying builds a relationship between God and humans. The close relationship with God affects him in his life and works every day anew. Brother Agustinus Nai Aki CMM (Indonesia)

Brother Willem Beslar and parishioners. 19


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

Magazine Brothers CMM 2018/3  
Magazine Brothers CMM 2018/3