Religious Life: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

In 2006 I joined CMM, with headquarters in Tilburg (NL), in the function of ‘secretary of studies’. I wanted to support this international religious organization, where several close friends work, in its mission and formation programmes. It is nice to create bridges between university and society. CMM is a small, catholic NGO driven by brothers, founded in 1844-45, active in the domain of education for the poor. It runs about 30 schools and several other projects against poverty and injustice. Today CMM is present in different countries: the Netherlands, Belgium, Indonesia, East-Timor, Kenia, Namibia and Brazil.

History of the brothers

My first task was to contribute to new publications about CMM history and spirituality. It is important to disclose the congregational history, its basic inspiration, main sources and development. In the past 175 years CMM involved about 4000 brothers (many of them teachers and educators), active in 12 different countries, running more than 100 schools and institutions. Among my publications in this domain:

  • a book about the foundation period and founder bishop Zwijsen (2014);
  • a biogaphy of the first general superior Father De Beer (2014);
  • two books about one of the charismatic brothers, Remembering Brother Andreas (2008) and The world of Brother Andreas (2017);
  • an overview article about 175 years Mission of Mercy (2019);
  • a special issue dedicated to 50 years CMM in Kenia (2008).

I am currently finishing a big general history written in Dutch, Missie van barmhartigheid (2021) and some of the translations of earlier publications in English and Indonesian. Many publications appear in three languages.

In the field of formation and management

Working in a relatively small organization, means contributing as well to other domains. In particular to the formation programmes in the Netherlands, Brazil, Indonesia, organizing international courses and meetings. I also served as secretary and facilitator to the Provincial and General Chapters, as board member to the formation centre Kloosterhotel ZIN and advisor to the Dutch Movement of Mercy.

As everywhere, main challenges in the field of religious development projects, are at the level of leadership, finances, communication, formation, recruitment of volunteers and heritage policies. I am happy I could contribute to keeping the CMM organization alive and well-structured, inspired, up-to-date and well-embedded in society. Among the most inspiring experiences of these years: working with young religious worldwide, helping the associates in their organization, assisting the management of a formation centre in the domain of business spirituality, innovating the CMM website and taking part in many international chapters, meetings and networks. Some interesting projects were as well developed together with affiliated organizations of the Sisters of Charity, the Vincentians, and the Dutch Conference of Religious.

I can fully embrace the following CMM mission statement:

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.

Wherever we may be working,

we shall continually reflect

on the deeper human and evangelical meaning

of our work.

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