Since the 1960’s the congregation didn’t get so many vocations anymore (this was the case in almost all religious institutes). The dwindling as well as the fact that the members became older, were the reason that so many laymen entered the education system of the congregation.
In the Flanders, the last Brother stopped his education activity in 2004. A few years earlier the last Brother took leave of his school leadership as general director.
Already for a few years, laymen were included as cooperators in the schools of V. Scheppers, as well men as women,first as teachers and assistant personnel, later on as directors.
Laymen are also in the majority now in the Institutionary board. In 2003 the ORS (the board for education of V.Scheppers)() was founded. They could advise the board of Government in all kinds of affairs, concerning the good working of the Scheppers Institutes. At the same time, the ORS was burdened with watching over the mission of education in the spirit of Monsignor Scheppers.
Meanwhile, another education service was founded: the ODS.. This service supported for example the directors and the book-keepers with the implementation of the obligations of the new law upon VZW’s.
In 2004, at the occasion of the 165th birthday of the congregation’s foundation, Brother General Superior and Brother Provincial of the Flanders, thanked all collaborators who took care of the responsibility in our Flemish schools, by offering them a trip to Rome.
It was such a wonderful experience of union with the family of V. Scheppers that from the year 2005 onwards, there has always been a yearly reunion in one of the Scheppers Institutes in the Flanders..
From the 12th till the 20th April 2008, CEDES - the international coordinating group of laymen and Brothers– came on a working visit to the Flemish Scheppers Institutes. (CEDES = the Centre of education of Scheppers)
The Belgian Province welcomed coollaborators from Argentina, Canada, Italy and Uruguay. Those collaborators stayed in the Scheppers Institute in Mechelen, the motherhouse of the Congregation of the Brothers of our Holy Mary of Mercy or the so-called Brothers of Scheppers , this according to the name of their founder V. Scheppers. His body rests in the tomb of the Institute.
More and more laymen shared the education project of the Congregation in leading functions also outside the apostolate of the Flanders.