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28.12.2015 03:11:27 2889x read.
NETHERLANDS
The FIC Brothers and "In the Red Lion".

The FIC Brothers and “In the Red Lion”
It was 1840. A young priest Louis Rutten was struck by the number of poor children that roamed around in the streets of the town of Maastricht. They did not go to school. They lived in poor conditions and were often neglected. Their parents were working in the factory. Even the children themselves had often to work there.
Louis Rutten brought those kids together in a house in the Bogaardenstraat, which belonged to his father and that was called “In the Red Lion”. Here the children were taught to read and to write, they learned Catechism and they got food. Louis Rutten realized he could not do all this work by himself. Therefore he tried to get some young men who were willing to help him care for these children. That was not easy. But he managed to get some. They became the first brothers of a new congregation - the Brothers FIC. Soon after the foundation of this new congregation, brothers were sent to other places in Holland (a.o. Amsterdam) where new educational projects were started.
The number of brothers gradually increased and they occupied the houses behind the Red Lion. As these houses became too small for the growing number of brothers and novices, they built a new and bigger house - De Beyart. In the beginning of the 20th Century the brothers moved to this new house.
In 1990 when the congregation existed for 150 years, the house “In the Red Lion” was bought back from people who lived there. The then General Council under the leadership of Bro. Johan Muijtjens wanted to start a new project in that house, where brothers and lay-volunteers could work in the spirit of Louis Rutten, the founder of the congregation. After many discussions it was decided, that the house would be opened for people who felt lonely and who needed more contact with other people. At the same time the brothers wanted to do something for handicapped people, and people who mourned because of the loss of loved ones. They also wanted to give some inspiration and formation to people. That is why the house was called a centre for meeting and inspiration. The house and the project was considered a kind of present to the town of Maastricht on the occasion of 150 years F.I.C. It was a present to the town, where the congregation was founded. The house was renovated at the expense of the congregation. A lift was installed for old and handicapped visitors. And at the top-floor a prayer-room was made for meditation, reflection and prayer. The purpose was to make this historical place a centre for meeting and inspiration.
But the brothers could not put all this in practice all by themselves. From the very beginning volunteers were welcomed, who wanted to work with the brothers in the spirit of Louis Rutten, in the spirit of the congregation. The question was and still is, how to put the original inspiration of our founders into practice. What are the problems now ? What are the real needs of the people now ? In a town like Maastricht many people feel lonely. They have little contact with others, they are looking for meaning in life, for encouragement, for attention. These are the modern needs of people. Some brothers, together with many volunteers try to help people to deal with these problems.
Three afternoons a week the house is open for people, who want to have contact with others. Courses are given e.g. to help people know how to spend money in the right way, to help people overcome their sorrows when they have lost a dear one, to help people to express their feelings in drawing and to teach people to meditate. At the moment four brothers are still involved in this project.
Through all this, people feel more connected with others and they get some inspiration to lead their own lives.  All this happens in the house, where Louis Rutten started his work for the poor children of Maastricht.
                                                                                        Bro. Noud Fonken
                                                                                        Bro. Gerard Hermans.







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