Edmund Rice Christian Brothers North America


His Holiness John Paul II 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 recognized 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 canonization, at which time a candidate would be declared a saint.

The late John Cardinal O'Connor, speaking at St. Patrick's Cathedral on September 21, 1996 at a Mass celebrating the beatification of Edmund Rice and the 90th anniversary of the Christian Brothers in the United States stated, ''It would be sad, but it's conceivable that we would not be here if history ended with Edmund Rice's death, but his legacy, his spirit, is so dynamically alive here in the United States today...and certainly, as I can testify, here in New York.''

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, for our children, is to provide them with a strong, value-centered education. We must create the structures that will enable these young people to grow into healthy citizens who can contribute positively to our community. The Congregation of Christian Brothers has successfully provided this education for almost two hundred years in 250 schools and colleges throughout the world. Blessed Edmund Rice's feast day is May 5th.

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The Founder of the Congregation was Blessed Edmund Rice. Blessed Edmund Ignatius Rice was born a Catholic, in Callan, County Kilkenny, Ireland in 1762 and died in Waterford, Ireland in 1844. He was a wealthy businessman, a widower and parent. As a young man, Edmund went to work in his uncle's business. Edmund's 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 member 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 died 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, marginalized 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 realized 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. The first Brothers came to the United States, to All Saints Grammar School, in 1906 and opened their first school in the United States in Harlem in 1909. The Congregation of Christian Brothers, founded Iona College in 1940.