Traditions of CBC St John’s

The Founder of the Congregation of Christian Brothers was Blessed Edmund Rice. Blessed Edmund Ignatius Rice was born a Catholic, in Callan, County Killkenny, Ireland in 1762 and died in Waterford, Ireland in 1844. He was a wealthy businessman, a widower and parent. As a young man, Edmund worked in his uncle’s business, where his talents and abilities allowed him to transform the business and eventually assume its ownership. At a time when most of the Irish people were extremely poor and living under repressive laws, Edmund Rice became a wealthy and influential citizen of the city of Waterford.

Edmund seemed to have everything going for him – financial security, a prospering business, and a happy marriage. But in 1789, his wife dies in a tragic accident and his world seemed to have turned upside-down. Edmund struggled to find meaning in his wife’s death and heard the Word of God in the poor, uneducated, marginalised young boys of Ireland. Edmund set about to establish Catholic schools at a time when such schools were illegal. He took in those boys everyone thought hopeless. He soon realised that he must attend to all the needs of the boys, not just their education. The boys needed to be fed, clothed and housed. Gathering about him a few men who shared his vision, Edmund Rice began what seemed to others the impossible task of educating Ireland’s poor.

Edmund founded the Congregation of Christian Brothers in 1802 in Waterford, in order to provide quality Catholic education to the materially poor. His Holiness, John Paul 11 beatified Edmund Ignatius Rice on October 6, 1996, in St Peter’s Square. Speaking of Blessed Edmund Rice, the Pope stated:

“Here we have an outstanding model of a true lay apostle and a deeply committed Religious… Today, his spiritual sons, the Christian Brothers and the Presentation Brothers, continue his mission: a mission which he himself described in this simple and clear intention: ‘Trusting in God’s help, I hope to be able to educate these boys to be good Catholics and good citizens.”

Blessed Edmund Rice was beatified after the Church investigated and recognised a medical miracle that was the result of people praying to the Founder for his
intercession with God. The miracle was a recovery from a terminal medical condition that the patient’s doctors could not explain.

With beatification, Edmund Rice was declared a “blessed” member of the Church. This allows a limited form of veneration. Another miracle is needed between beatification and canonisation, at which time a candidate would be declared a saint.

The Congregation of Christian Brothers believes that our greatest national resources are the minds and hearts of our children. They believe that the quality of the education provided to children has a direct and profound effect upon the quality of life we all will share in the next century.

The greatest investment that we can make, as a society, is to provide our children with a strong, value-based education.