CICM (the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary) is a Catholic, religious, missionary institute founded in 1862 by a Belgian priest, Rev. Theophile Verbist, for the evangelization of China. On February 23, 1868, just three years after setting out for his mission in China with four companions, Father Verbist died of typhus fever at the age of 45 years.
Inspired by Father Verbist’s example, other young men took up the challenge to evangelize in some of the most remote areas of the world and have been among the first to bring the Good News of the Gospel to the peoples of China, the Congo, the Philippines and Indonesia. Today, more than 850 missionary priest and brothers from Europe, the Americas, Africa and Asia, living and working together in multicultural communities as brothers, continue this long tradition of caring for God’s poorest and most neglected people in many parts of the world. In the past 150 years, more the 3000 men have been members of CICM, giving their life for the spread of the Gospel and many of them, like Father Verbist, dying at a young age, especially in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Unlike some NGOs or relief organizations that arrive at a place when there is some news-making crisis and leave when the crisis has passed, CICM missionaries spend their lives with their people, sharing in their hope and dreams as well as their sufferings and privations. Adopting their language, food and customs, they inculturate themselves into the life of the people, participating in the day-to-day effort needed to achieve lasting spiritual and material change.
In response to people’s spiritual needs, CICM missionaries may staff parishes, administer sacraments, teach, preach, and engage in special ministries to the youth, the sick and aged, prisoners and university students. In response to people’s material needs, CICM missionaries may help to build schools or orphanages, dispensaries or nutritional centers, or they may engage in projects to improve a farmer’s yield or to bring clean water to a village. As trusted members of the community where they live, they work in close cooperation with the local authorities and the people to promote dignity, self-reliance, and a decent standard of living.
CICM missionaries are currently working in some 20 countries around the world. Now as always, their work continues to be sharing the hope and comfort of the Gospel while relieving the suffering of our poorest and most neglected brothers and sisters in Christ.
DefinitionsCatholic – Belonging to the Roman Catholic faith.
Religious – Referring to men and women of the Roman Catholic faith who consecrate themselves totally to God through vows of poverty, celibacy and obedience.
Missionary – A person sent to give witness to Christianity.
Gospel – The teachings and revelations of Jesus Christ.
Multicultural communities – Consisting of men from several different cultures or ethnic groups.
Inculturation – The gradual acquisition of the characteristics and norms of a culture or group by a person of another culture.
Parishes – A community of people of the Christian faith typically having a church and a priest or pastor.
Sacraments – A ceremony of the Christian faith that is regarded as an outward and visible sign of an inward reality wrought by divine grace.
Ministries – The spiritual work or service of a Christian.