The Saint Vincent region of Belgium is the region where the Congregation was founded in 1807, and so it is the oldest region. From the beginning, various apostolic sectors were developed: care for the elderly, which had already started with the foundation in 1807 and is still offered at six locations today, and care for the mentally ill, which commenced in 1815 with the breaking of the shackles used to restrain the mentally ill in the crypts of Gerard the Devil’s Castle in Ghent. It was the starting point for the development of an entire mental health care network, and this type of care is now being provided in 15 psychiatric centres. In addition, there are some 40 schools scattered all over the country and 15 centres where people with disabilities are cared for, supported, and trained. There are several small-scale activities for people with HIV/AIDS or with existential questions, and for disadvantaged people. Altogether, there are 30,000 people who receive care or education through the Brothers of Charity, who have 12,000 employees and staff members in Belgium.
Today, there are about 100 brothers and as many associate members who keep the charism of the Congregation alive. Moerzeke is home to an international house of formation where brothers from around the world can attend training courses on spirituality and health care, and Bruges serves as the headquarters of Fracarita International, the Congregation’s international NGO that supports the apostolic works worldwide. It is like a continuation of the Belgian region’s long-standing tradition of sending out so many brother-missionaries, thus making a fundamental contribution to the foundation of various regions in Africa and Asia.