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Blessed Edmund Rice (1762-1844), founder of both the Congregation of Christian Brothers and the Presentation Brothers, was the son of a prosperous farmer. He grew to become a successful and influential merchant in the city of Waterford, where he was known as a devout Catholic and generous benefactor to the poor. After a brief marriage that tragically ended with his wife’s death, the widowed Edmund now also responsible for the care of his infant daughter found strength and comfort in prayer, scripture and the Eucharist. His concern for the poor began to focus on the education and care of street children in the city. His aim was that they might come to know God through their Catholic faith and he was convinced that education would enable them to rise out of their impoverished state.
Edmund gave up his comfortable home for a room above the stable which served as his first school. He supported the venture financially by the profits from his business. Other young men joined him in his service to the poor which eventually led to his first permanent school, Mt. Sion. The school grounds included a tailor shop and bakery so that the students might also be fed and clothed.
By 1820, the group had expanded throughout Ireland and were granted the status as a Pontifical Congregation under the title of Christian Brothers. The Christian Brothers are lay religious who are missioned by the Church specifically for the evangelization of youth and the education and care of the materially poor. Edmund Rice was declared Blessed by Blessed Pope John Paul II on October 6, 1996 in Rome and is recognized as a man of heroic virtue and a model for others.
The Congregation is dedicated to providing a strong, value-centered, Christian education on behalf of the materially poor. By the end of the nineteenth century the Congregation had grown steadily in membership and Brothers had moved to many different countries around the world, including the United States in 1906. The Congregation of Christian Brothers has successfully provided this education for almost two hundred years in 250 schools and colleges throughout the world.
Today, the Congregation of Christian Brothers, with its General Headquarters in Rome, consists of communities in the U.S., and in more than 39 other countries throughout the world.
The Edmund Rice Christian Brothers North American Province consists of brothers laboring in more than 40 ministry sites along with their dedicated lay colleagues.
For information about the Congregation of Christian Brothers and a vocation as a Christian Brother, visit www.cfcvocations.org.
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For information about Blessed Edmund Rice Heritage Center, Mount Sion, Waterford, Ireland, visit www.edmundrice.ie.
For information about The Edmund Rice School Network, a consortium of Catholic schools that educate in the spirit and tradition of the Edmund Rice Christian Brothers, visit www.edmundriceschools.org.
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