The Congregatio Immaculati Cordis Mariae (Latin), or the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary; (French: Congrégation du Coeur Immaculé de Marie; Dutch: Congregatie van het Onbevlekte Hart van Maria), also known as the Scheut fathers or Scheutists is a Belgian Roman Catholic missionary congregation established in 1862 by the priest Théophile Verbist. Its origins lie in Scheut, Anderlecht, a suburb of Brussels. The congregation did missionary work in China, Mongolia, the Philippines, and in Congo Free State/Belgian Congo, modern day Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Presently, the name CICM Missionaries is preferred. In the USA, the Congregation is known as Missionhurst Missionaries.
Fr. Théophile Verbist was a diocesan priest in the Archbishopric of Mechelen-Brussels in Belgium in the mid 19th century. He served as chaplain in the military academy in Brussels and at the same time as a national director of the Pontifical Association of the Holy Childhood. A compassionate man of God, he led a group of other Belgian diocesan priests who became deeply concerned with the abandoned children in China and with millions of Chinese who lived at that time in ignorance and poverty.
Father Verbist's desire to consecrate himself to the life of a missionary seemed on the point of fulfillment when the Treaty of Peking of 1861 opened imperial China to his zeal and that of the little band who desired to accompany him. In 1862 he founded the Belgian Mission in China. On seeking ecclesiastical permission, however, they were commissioned by Cardinal Barbaro, Prefect of the Propaganda Fide, to begin their work by founding a seminary in Belgium to supply priests for the beginning mission, and laid the foundations of the Scheutveld College, 28 April 1863, in the Field of Scheut, a short distance from Brussels, so the C.I.C.M. missionaries were also known as Scheutists or Scheut missionaries.
The congregation was born not knowing exactly what lay ahead. Their only assurance was their missionary zeal and God’s providence. In September 1863, the first group of missionaries set forth for Inner Mongolia. In the winter of 1865, Verbist and his four companions arrived in inner Mongolia, which was entrusted to the fledgling congregation by Rome, and where they immediately began organizing small Christian communities. The founding fathers never imagined that many would follow their footsteps notwithstanding the cost of traveling by sea and in the hinterlands of China. Three years later on February 23, 1868, Verbist died of typhoid fever at the age of 45 in Lao-Hu-Kou.
His foundation, however, grew into the worldwide presence it is today. Originally a Belgian Foundation, CICM has grown into an international religious missionary congregation of men from different races, colors and nationalities who are dedicated to universal brotherhood.
The Scheutveld priests and brothers have faced severe perils, e.g. the Boxer rebellion in China, involving the massacre of Bishop Hamer, Vicar Apostolic of South-Western Mongolia, seven missionaries and 3000 Christians; the even greater decimation of their numbers by the Congo climate, not to mention the persecution of the missionaries and the negro colonies established by them.
In connection with their missions the Fathers opened a number of benevolent institutions, for example the hospital at St-Trudon, Upper Kassai, for those afflicted with sleeping sickness.
Today the 1,000 priests and brothers of CICM are present in Asia: in Taiwan, Mongolia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Philippines, Indonesia and Japan; in the vast continent of Africa: in Congo, Cameroon, Zambia, Senegal, and Angola; in the Americas: Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Brazil, Mexico and the United States; and in Europe: Belgium, Netherlands, Italy, France and Germany.
General CICM Government 2006: Timothy Atkin, Gaby Gheysens, Edouard Tsimba, Philip Aquino Jr. Yu
Superior General 2006 Rv. Edouard Tsimba
|Chapter||Year||General Superior||New foundations||Members|
|---||1888||Van Aertselaer, Jeroom||Congo||112|
|First General Chapter||1898||Van Hecke, Adolf||---||309|
|Chapter II||1908||Botty, Albert||---||507|
|Chapter III||1920||Rutten, Joseph||---||649|
|Chapter IV||1930||Daems, Constant||---||928|
|---||1935||Vandeputte, Jozef (Gen.vic.)||---||1202|
|Chapter V||1947||Vandeputte, Jozef||Japan||1479|
|---||1953||---||Haiti - Chile (+ 1957)||---|
|---||1954||---||Hong Kong - Taiwan||---|
|Chapter VI||1957||Sercu Frans||---||1902|
|Chapter VII||1967||Goossens, Wim||---||1986|
|Chapter VIII||1974||Van Daelen, Paul||---||1683|
|---||1976||---||Zambia - Senegal||---|
|Chapter IX||1981||Van Daelen, Paul (2a)||---||1556|
|Chapter X||1987||Decraene, Michel||---||1441|
|---||1990||---||France ('89) Chad ('90)||---|
|Chapter XI||1993||Thomas, Jacques||---||1380|
|Chapter XII||1999||Lapauw, Jozef||Mozambique (+2002)||1247|
|Chapter XIII||2005||Tsimba, Edouard||---||999|