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22.11.2020 01:33:20 464x read.
A Word on180th Anniversary of FIC Congregation [by Bro. Raphael Besigrinee].

A Word on180th Anniversary of FIC Congregation

[by Bro. Raphael Besigrinee].


Today 21 November 2020, we celebrate180 years of existence of our Congregation. The name of our Congregation is Brothers of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (FIC). The Congregation was founded by a young Catholic priest called Louis Rutten, exactly on this day (21 November) in 1840 in a town called Maastricht, The Netherlands.

Our charism is education, formation and teaching. In simple terms, a charism is a special task or responsibility given by God. So we think God has given to the FIC Brothers the special task of educating poor, destitute and underprivileged children. We form them to be responsible people in society. We teach them Catechism (the knowledge of God) and we train them in character building. This is the FIC Brothers' way of spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ .


The congregation was founded in Maastricht to serve local needs, but it eventually became an international congregation. How did this happen?

In 1920, the brothers saw the need to serve people outside Netherlands, and so they went on their first mission to Indonesia. We can say that the brothers at that time were so generous that they decided to reach out to poor people in other parts of the world, and not remain only in Maastricht. In the years that followed, they extended their missionary activities to many other countries around the world. Currently (in 2020), the congregation is working in only 6 locations around the world, namely Indonesia, Ghana, Malawi, Chile, Timor Leste and Netherlands.

Today as we celebrate 180 years of our existence, we are grateful to God for a number of reasons:

1. We want to thank God for the missionary spirit that enabled the FIC Brothers to serve a wider society than the small country, Netherlands.

2. We thank God for our ability to reach out to many poor and vulnerable children around the world. We are involved in basic education, secondary and technical education, education for the deaf and blind, among others. Through these institutions, the FIC Brothers continue to serve the socially weak and forgotten groups in the societies where we are missioned.

3. We maintain our unity in spite of our diversity. Even though we are international, differentiated by culture, race and tradition, we live and work in unity of spirit - a value given by our founders. We believe we are "called together and sent out" to continue the work of Jesus Christ, in our efforts to build the kingdom of God. So wherever we are, we live according to the same FIC spirit . For this value, we thank God.

4. We thank God for these 180 years of dedicated service to the people of God, and we ask God to help us keep to the spirit of our founders. Our presence is highly recognized and appreciated in our mission areas. We thank God that wherever we are, our apostolate has made significant impact in the lives of people. We owe a lot of gratitude also to our collaborators, associates and friends, co-workers and sponsors around the world.

We are aware that in the Netherlands, the congregation is not growing. In other words, the brothers are getting older, and no young men here wish to be brothers, but we are happy to see some growth in Indonesia, Timor Leste, Ghana and Malawi. There is still a lot of hope for the future of the congregation, but not without the sacrifice of each of us (brothers) in the way we try to live our vocation. The way we witness to the love of God in our communities and in the wider society, has a direct influence on the interest of young people.


We know we are faced with the challenge of lack of vocations, but as far we know the value of religious life does not depend on the number of its members, but the quality of our life. Promotion of vocations is important as a way of strengthening and maintaining our congregational influence in society. However, we have to be aware that  maintaining the quality of religious life is a foundational element in upholding our apostolic influence. Therefore our role as religious is to continue to be on the side of the poor and needy as demanded by the Gospel.

I end this message with an appeal to my fellow brothers all over the world, to heed to Pope Francis' call to care for the environment, which he calls 'our common home'. We should take this seriously because we are already witnessing the consequences of our 'human sins' against the natural environment, namely the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Let each of us and each community do something concrete as our contribution to the improvement of the environment, for we now know that "Taking care of our own environment and helping others to do the same is a real and structural contribution to the well being of the underprivileged. It is a ‘modern’ way of opting for the poor" (elucidation of 2018 FIC General Chapter resolution 28B).

I ask for God's continuous support to enable us keep the heritage of our Founders alive, namely to work for the poor and needy, for the sake of the wellbeing of humanity, and at the same time for the building of the Kingdom of God.

Finally, I wish all FIC Brothers, our associated members, co-workers and collaborators, all over the world, a happy anniversary!

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