Brothers of Our Lady of Mercy


A run-up to an African foundation

Long before World War II started, the General Management was looking for a proper moment to start a foundation in Africa.
Early 1949, the question came from the White Fathers by the mouth of Mgr J. Martin, at the occasion of the new diocese foundation “Ngozi” in Burundi, to open a school for a teachers’ formation in that diocese.
The General Management then decided to open a monastery in Musenyi (Burundi), in the diocese Ngozi. Therefore, Brother Assistant Omer Claes and Brother General Superior Léonard Roeckens exerted themselves fully in recruiting friars for this project. They took care of the necessary material and of the financial means.

The First class of Brothers to Burundi

The Brothers Walter, Ulric and Gustaaf
The Brothers Walter, Ulric and Gustaaf
On September 3, 1950, Brothers Ulric In ‘t Ven, Gustaaf Vergauwen and Walter Claes, accompanied by Brother Assistant Omer Claes, left in Antwerp by the Copacabana steamer from the Compagnie Maritime Belge, to start a school of “monitors” in Burundi, a school to form teachers. 

A long journey

The journey took more than a month:
- By boat from Antwerp to Matadi via Tenerife and Boma.
- By train from Matadi to Leopold City in Kinshasa, 365 km and 37 stops.
- By  DC3-airplane  from  Leopold  City  to  Stanley  City with 4 intermediate landings
   consecutively in: Coquilat City, Basankusu, Lisala and Bumba.
- By  car  from  Stanley  City  to  Goma  through  the Albert Park and this spread over
   several days.
- Then again by boat from Goma to Bukavu.
- Finally by truck from Bukavu to Usumbura (Bujumbura)

A poor start

For the time being, the Brothers, at first, stayed at the Brothers of Love in Gitega and afterwards at the mission of the White Fathers in Musenyi. On January 25, they definitively settled in the school.
Everything had to be done and undertaken: to provide food, to take care of transport, adaptation to the climate. And all that with a total lack of the necessary things for everyday life.
A solidarity action was launched in our Dutch schools and communities to meet the numerous questions for help, our mission Brothers demanded in their letters.

The growth of the mission

Vlaamse en Burundese broeders
Dutch and Barundi Brothers
On February 1, 1951, the school year was started with three preparatory classes.
In 1951 and 1952, the Brothers Victor Van Aken, Valentijn Taels, Adelbert Van Essen and Vincent Vanarwegen strengthened the community of the first three mission Brothers.
On february1, 1952 they started with the first year of the “Ecole Moyene Pédagogique”. Two of the three preparatory classes were preserved. Brother Valentijn became class teacher and Brother Gustaaf was director of the primary school.
In 1954 two other Brothers were assisting their mission Brothers :  Hector Meeuwes and Ephrem Dufraing. Eight Brothers were now living in the community of Musenyi: Ulric, Adelbert, Gustaaf, Hector, Ephrem, Vincent, Edmont of Victor and Valentijn. Brother Walter Claes wasn’t there anymore because he returned to Belgium early 1952.
On August 7, 1956, the Brothers Ulric, Gustaaf and Hector celebrated their 25th monastery anniversary in Musenyi.

Burundese broeders
Barundi Brothers

In 1957 the first Barundi applicants (Joachim, Alfons and Jean) received their monastery habit of the Congregation. At that moment there were two monitor schools in Burundi, one in Gitega and one in Musenyi.


The Barundi Brothers Alphonse, François and Paul pronounced their temporary vows.
In 1958 the novitiate was transferred from Burundi to Kapellen in Belgium. Three novices and four applicants went to Belgium. The applicants Désiré Bonimpa, Jean Bosco Ngendabanyikwa; Célestin Muke and Albert Bigirankana received the monastery habit. The Barundi Brothers Alphonse, François and Paul pronounced their temporary vows.