Edmund Rice Christian Brothers
Members of the Congregation of Christian Brothers are those spiritual sons of Blessed Brother Edmund Rice and are “men called by God to live as religious in consecrated brotherhood for the evangelization of youth within the mission of the Church (Constitutions).”
Founded in Ireland by Edmund Rice in 1802, the Congregation now serves the Church in countries throughout the world. With headquarters in Rome, more than 2,500 Brothers staff schools in Ireland, England, Australia, New Guinea, India, Africa, Canada, and several South American countries, as well as the United States.
In 1975, the Brothers celebrated one hundred years of service in North America.
A History of Edmund Rice
Upon the death of his wife, Edmund had intentions of entering a monastery on the continent, but the Bishop of Waterford encouraged him to stay in Ireland and begin a school for poor boys. Thus in 1802, Edmund rented a house, engaged the services of two young men, and opened a school. Some three hundred boys of all ages flocked to him. Not accustomed to the routine and discipline of school, they must have tested the courage of their masters, for the two paid teachers soon wearied and left Edmund alone. Edmund persevered, however, and God rewarded his confidence when two other young men offered themselves as voluntary helpers in his enterprise.
The new school effected such a transformation among the youth of Waterford that Edmund soon opened schools in other cities. Additional helpers came, and he organized them to live together and follow a religious rule of life.
Pope Pius VII gave papal approval to the Congregation in 1820, and was later elected the first Superior General of the new congregation.
After opening additional schools in Ireland and England, Brother Edmund Rice died August 29, 1844, at Mount Sion, Waterford.
On October 6, 1996, Edmund was named “Blessed” by Pope John Paul II in Rome. Thirty-four members of the Brother Rice community, including students, teachers, alumni, alumni parents, and Board members, attended the ceremony. Pope John Paul declared May 5 as the annual universal feast day for Blessed Edmund Rice.
Essential Elements of a Christian Brother Education
Blessed Edmund was given the grace to respond to the call of Jesus by identifying with Christ in the poor. His example evoked a deep awareness of God’s loving presence in all with whom he came in contact. He awakened within them a consciousness of their dignity as children of God. He invited his followers to share his gospel insight, and empowered them to reach out to the needy, especially the materially poor.
The life of Blessed Edmund Rice – businessman, husband, father, widower, religious brother, teacher, and founder – challenges all involved in Christian Brother education to live and teach gospel values in today’s world. His charism inspires the Essential Elements of a Christian Brother Education:
“Edmund Rice was moved by the Holy Spirit to open his whole heart to Christ present and appealing to him in the poor (1984 General Chapter).”
In ministry begun by Jesus Christ and inspired by the vision of Blessed Edmund Rice, a Christian Brother education…