Sketch of CMM History
The Congregation of the Brothers CMM was founded in 1844 in Tilburg (The Netherlands). The Founder, Bishop Joannes Zwijsen, was deeply moved by the poverty that he encountered in this quickly growing industrial town and in the countryside around it. Many children hardly received any education and there were only very limited means to help the sick, the elderly, the orphans and those who were handicapped. Zwijsen gathered a number of men and women around him: people who were eager to dedicate themselves to improve the living conditions in the town and to work on it from the setting of a religious congregation in the Catholic Church.
Zwijsen was very successful in this effort since the Congregations of Sisters and Brothers he had founded were attracting many members. Around 1850 there were already almost one thousand sisters and more than one hundred brothers engaged in numerous social and Church projects. These projects were mostly initiatives to assist the poor and to support Catholic education, projects which Zwijsen called “works of charity” (liefdewerken) and “works of mercy” (werken van barmhartigheid).
That was the very reason why Zwijsen bestowed on both his congregations a name related to mercy: they are called Sisters and Brothers of Our Lady, Mother of Mercy. Popularly they are usually referred to as Brothers of Tilburg and Sisters of the Oude Dijk – the name of the town /street where they used to live. These names stuck, even after they had started working at many more places.
Thus the history of the brothers stretches over a period of about 175 years. In total, there have been over the years more than 3500 brothers (nowadays there are about 270, living and working in 8 different countries).
On these web pages we present a short thematic overview of the history of the Brothers CMM, in six different parts (click on the images):