Tilburg – On Saturday, December 26, 2020, the second day of Christmas, Brother Wim Verschuren passed away. He was 87 years old and for 70 years he was a member of the Congregation of the Brothers of Our Lady, Mother of Mercy. From 1978 to 1990 he was the Superior General of the Congregation. Brother Wim died at St. Anna Hospital in Geldrop. We commemorate his life and death in a prayer service on Saturday, January 2, at 10.30 am. You can follow the celebration via livestream.
Wim was born on 20 December 1933 in Udenhout. During the war years Wim attended elementary school with the Brothers CMM. They sowed the seeds for his entry into the novitiate in August 1950. Like so many, Wim became a teacher. He worked as a teacher in Loon op Zand, Den Bosch and in the Institute for the Blind in Grave. In 1955 he made his profession for life. From 1958 he lived in Tilburg for study and in his spare time he was active as a youth worker in the ‘Vogeltjesbuurt’, a neighbourhood on the periphery, and in 1961 he started his Dutch Language and Literature studies at the University of Nijmegen. In 1968 he was asked to become a member of the Provincial Board.
The turbulent seventies were also an eventful time for Brother Wim. Many brothers left the Congregation and there were no new vocations. Many, including Wim himself, were confronted with questions about the why of their choice of life. During his student years he came into intensive contact with the society around him and when he was elected Superior General in 1978 his interest in people and their individuality only increased.
Together with Brother Harrie van Geene (†19 April 2020), he intuitively felt that the Dutch Province of the Congregation could not emerge from the crisis if it did not renew its spirituality. The rediscovery of ‘mercy’ as the heart of the vocation and mission of brothers has proved invaluable. Wim felt that he had a mission to fulfil: to propagate that spirituality of mercy. From 1978 to 1990 Wim fulfilled the task of Superior General and travelled the world on working visits to various CMM Regions and Provinces in Indonesia, Namibia, Brazil, Curaçao, Surinam and Kenya.
When his term as Superior General expired in 1990, he moved to the community at the Schiphollaan in Tilburg, a small center for spirituality, founded especially for young people. Brother Wim saw it as his vocation to bring the spirituality of mercy to life in Church and society. Thus, he stood at the cradle of the Movement of Mercy, and was co-founder of Zin in Werk in Vught, where he lived in the Eleousa community since 2000.
The last few years Wim was a bit calmer because of health problems, but that did not mean that he had ‘retired’. He was asked for lectures on mercy, he wrote articles and he liked to have conversations with people who asked him for a listening ear. In addition, he kept track of the poultry of the community in Vught, the many ducks, geese, swans and chickens, and he enjoyed his little garden full of cut flowers. In 2017 he published his book ‘Loving Mercy’, a colourful book about the scope and relevance of this core concept of the Gospel. The book later also appeared in English and Indonesian and was made accessible to brothers in other parts of the world. He was very happy with that.
Gratitude and wonder
When Wim was asked about the finest period of his life as a brother, he specifically mentioned how grateful he was. Gratitude for what he experienced in developing the spirituality of mercy and brotherhood, in meeting different cultures and realizing projects, and grateful for the friendship he experienced. Besides gratitude, ‘wonder’ was also a word that coloured his life. Wim did not find life and our life’s process ‘ordinary’, but definitely something to marvel at.
In the service of leadership Wim played an essential role in rediscovering our spirituality: mercy and brotherhood. With a listening ear, a sharp eye and a generous heart he managed to reach many with words of comfort and encouragement. May God, our loving Father, include Brother Wim in his Mercy.