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: children without any schooling, 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. 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).
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 Old Dike – the name of the town /street where they used to live. In total, there have been over the years more than 3.000 brothers. Nowadays there are about 300, working in 10 different countries. Besides The Netherlands and Belgium, where the congregation started, there are brothers in Indonesia, East Timor, Kenya, Namibia, Tanzania, Brazil, The United States and Surinam. This Vincentian religious community works in varied areas, such as education, youth work, social care and building up the Church.