We are pleased to announce the publication of a new, richly illustrated history of the brothers. The book tells the history of the brothers as the story of a mission of mercy. Mission of Mercy (Missie van barmhartigheid – De Fraters van Zwijsen) is written by Charles van Leeuwen, study secretary of the Congregation. This first part describes the history of the brothers until 1920. Hopefully, in a few years’ time, we will be able to look forward to the second part, about the twentieth century. The book, written in Dutch language, counts 720 pages and is available in bookshops. ISBN 978 90 5625 523 7. Price: € 45.-
About the book
That mission started when a group of men and women from Tilburg and surroundings, under the leadership of their pastor, set up a few projects to combat poverty, including a hospice, an orphanage, a school for the poor and a school for deaf and blind children. It was pioneering work, carried out with limited means, the necessary improvisation and support from benevolent citizens. The small, local charity projects caught on and became increasingly professional. They grew into two large Catholic educational and care organisations, which spread throughout the Netherlands, Belgium and later other countries. One was run by the Sisters of Charity, the other by brothers, both under the leadership of the same Joannes Zwijsen, who now had become archbishop.
The history brings to light what moved people to become brothers and what their lives were like in the brother house and at work. It describes their religious and social ideals and deals with the difficulties that arose in the organization and in the house. It sketches the atmosphere at the schools and takes stock of the significance of education and upbringing for church and society. But above all, it portrays the people themselves, the charismatic Founder Zwijsen and the many hundreds of brothers who, following in his footsteps, gave shape to the mission of mercy.
What can we do about the impoverishment of society and widespread illiteracy? How can we make life better in the slums and in the poor countryside? How can we support a church that is short of people and resources? These were the questions from the beginning: they are questions that are still relevant today.