CICM Missionaries

The CICM Missionaries (Latin: Congregatio Immaculati Cordis Mariae, or the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary), is a Roman Catholic missionary religious congregation of men established in 1862 by the Belgian Catholic priest, Theophiel Verbist (1823–1868).[1]

Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Congregatio Immaculati Cordis Mariae
MottoCor Unum et Anima Una (Latin)
One Heart and one Soul
Formationc. AD 1862 (1862)
FounderTheophiel Verbist
TypeClerical Religious Congregation of Pontifical Right (for Men)
HeadquartersVia S. Giovanni Eudes 95, 00163 Roma, Italy
829 members (645 priests) (2017)
Superior General
Fr. Charles Phukuta Khonde, C.I.C.M.

Its origins lie in Scheut, Anderlecht, a suburb of Brussels, due to which it is widely known as the Scheut Missionaries. The congregation is most notable for their international missionary works in China, Mongolia, the Philippines and in Congo Free State/Belgian Congo, modern-day Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Presently, their international name "CICM Missionaries" is preferred, although, in the United States of America, the congregation is mostly known as Missionhurst.[2]


Verbist was a diocesan priest in the Archdiocese of Mechelen-Brussels in the mid-19th century. He served as chaplain to 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. The congregation is named after a religious Marian devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and has sought to expand its missionary work in various countries abroad.[2]


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 Alessandro Barnabò, 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. 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.

After World War I Belgium lay devastated and the Missionary Fathers of Scheut decided to establish a centre in a safe location from which they could send out their missionaries. As many Belgian refugees at that time were living in London it was thought that a church in that city would serve the spiritual needs of the Belgian community of London and also become a base for the Order's missionary activities. In 1922 the Church of Our Lady of Hal was established in a hut on Arlington Road in Camden Town while a permanent church was built opposite this site in 1933.[3][4]

World War II

During World War II, Father Jozef Raskin, ordained in the congregation in 1910, and during the 1920-1930's was a missionary to Inner Mongolia, was made a chaplain in the Belgium army and was a personal advisor to King Leopold III. While he was operating under the codename Leopold Vindictive 200 for the Dutch resistance in 1942, he was captured by the Gestapo, tried, convicted, then sentenced to death and beheaded on October 18, 1943.


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 their local congregations.

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, 900 CICM priests and lay brothers 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.

Historical table

Chapter Year General Superior New foundations Members
--- 1862 Verbist, Theophiel Belgium ---
--- 1865 --- China ---
--- 1869 Vranckx, Frans --- 11
General Conference 1887 --- --- ---
--- 1888 Van Aertselaer, Jeroom Congo 112
First General Chapter 1898 Van Hecke, Adolf --- 309
--- 1899 --- Netherlands ---
--- 1904 --- Rome ---
--- 1907 --- Philippines ---
Chapter II 1908 Botty, Albert --- 507
--- 1909 Mortier, Florent --- ---
Chapter III 1920 Rutten, Joseph --- 649
Chapter IV 1930 Daems, Constant --- 928
--- 1931 --- Singapore ---
--- 1935 Vandeputte, Jozef (Gen.vic.) --- 1202
--- 1937 --- Indonesia ---
--- 1946 --- U.S.A. ---
Chapter V 1947 Vandeputte, Jozef Japan 1479
--- 1953 --- Haiti - Chile (†1957) ---
--- 1954 --- Hong Kong - Taiwan ---
--- 1954 --- Guatemala ---
Chapter VI 1957 Sercu Frans --- 1902
--- 1958 --- Dominican Republic ---
--- 1961 Degrijse, Omer --- 1943
--- 1963 --- Brazil ---
--- 1966 --- Cameroon ---
Chapter VII 1967 Goossens, Wim --- 1986
Chapter VIII 1974 Van Daelen, Paul --- 1683
--- 1976 --- Zambia - Senegal ---
--- 1977 --- Nigeria (†2003) ---
--- 1979 --- México ---
Chapter IX 1981 Van Daelen, Paul (2a) --- 1556
Chapter X 1987 Decraene, Michel --- 1441
--- 1990 --- France ('89) Chad ('90) ---
--- 1992 --- Mongolia ---
Chapter XI 1993 Thomas, Jacques --- 1380
--- 1995 --- Angola (†2007) 1359
Chapter XII 1999 Lapauw, Jozef Mozambique (†2002) 1247
Chapter XIII 2005 Tsimba, Edouard --- 999
Chapter XIV 2011 Atkin, Timothy W. Afrique du Sud 892

CICM Schools in Philippines



  • Raskin, Albert (1977) 'The archives of the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (C.I.C.M.)', History in Africa, 4, 299–304.
  • Berg, Leo van den (1994) 'The China world of the "Scheut fathers"', Bulletin de l 'Institut Historique de Belge de Rome, 64, 223–263.
  • Verhelst, Daniël and Pycke, Nestor, eds. (1995) 'C.I.C.M. Missionaries Past and Present: History of the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Scheut/Missionhurst)', Verbistiana, 4. ISBN 9789061866763
  • Vanysacker, Dries & Renson, Raymond (ed.) (1995) 'The Archives of the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (CICM-Scheut) (1862–1967)' - 2 v., Bibliothèque de l'Institut Historique Belge de Rome, 36-37. ISBN 9789074461153

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