Brothers of Our Lady of Mercy

During the first years of his priesthood, V. Scheppers especially paid attention to the poor-relief and to education. 

Noon-and sundayschool

That’s why the young priest made himself liable to service from his parental house. In the “Saint-Rombouts parish”, he was appointed to be inspector of the cathecism education,that was given by a few persons in their own house. He was also considered as a beloved chaplain and a well-attended confessor.

In 1835 he founded a midday- and Sunday school for children and young workmen in a house in the “Begijnenstraat” that was equipped by his father. He taught there himself or simply came along to talk a while or to reward the children with candy or with  a violin game.

The dayschool

Archbishop Sterckx regularly came by at the school that became a day school. At the country house of the family- the castle of Tivoli along the Antwerp high road – V. Scheppers taught Children out of the neighbourhood. As a kind of appreciation, Sterckx appointed him in 1835 to canon in honour.

V. Scheppers dreams about a Brother community

During the years 1830 , V.Scheppers dreamt of promoting the piety and the care of the fellow-creature.

The rise of new communities consisting of brothers and sisters was one of the characteristics of the catholic “reveil” immediately after 1830. Brother and sister communities played an important role in the assistance to the poor, the nursing, the care for the destitute elder people and in the education.

Form of a convent society

Some congregations such as the sisters of “Providence”, also worked in prisons and in this way they also made a contribution to the humanizing of the prison system.

Edouard Ducpéctiaux, general inspector of the prisons

It was said that especially the confrontation to the neglect of the prisoners in Vilvoorde, where the young canon sang the benediction in 1837, was the real motive for the form of a monastery community.

His father however thought his son’s plan too daring and was not prepared to support him financially. With the help of the municipality Mechelen and the province management of Antwerp, V. Scheppers obtained a financial intervention for the brothers in nursery education as well as in the guarding of the prisoners.

Financial support

By Order in Council of December the 13th, a gratification of 5000 francs had been adjudged. For Victor this meant a very important financial support in the formation of the congregation. It gave him the possibility to realize his dream and to tide over financial difficulties.

In the beginning of the years 1840 he would use a great deal of his fathers’ heritage as well as the heritage of a childless aunt so as to reassure the accommodation and the formation of the brothers congregation.

Two congregations

On January the 25th 1839  the congregation of the Brothers of “Our Holy-Lady of Mercy”  was founded. Until his death in 1877, V. Scheppers remained father-founder and Father Superior of the congregation.

In 1854 he founded the congregation of the Sisters of “Our Holy Lady of Mercy”. Besides the care for two congregations, he was also an active member in lots of pious and charitable societies.

Source: SCHEPPERS, OUR SCHOOL by An Hermans, printed in 2002