Who will ever measure all the good that has come from the spiritual insight, warm heart, and determined faith of Blessed Edmund Rice?… Today, his spiritual sons, the Christian Brothers and the Presentation Brothers, continue his mission… His Holiness John Paul II
Edmund Ignatius Rice (1762-1844) founded the Congregation of Christian Brothers in 1802 in Waterford, Ireland, in order to provide quality, Catholic education to the materially poor. He heard God’s call in the poor, uneducated, marginalized young boys of Ireland. Edmund Rice began to establish Catholic schools, although such schools were illegal at that time. He took in the boys everyone else had given up on. It did not take long for him to realize that he must attend to all the needs of the boys — food, clothing, and housing.
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. The first Brothers came to Newfoundland in 1876 and to the United States in 1906. During the twentieth century the Brothers expanded throughout Canada and the United States and opened schools and ministries in many cities and towns. The Brothers also expanded into many countries overseas with vastly different cultural traditions and diverse pastoral needs.
All of these movements have been an attempt to respond to the urgings of the Spirit. The vision of Edmund was to see God in the marginalized and the poor and to try and enable those without a voice to be heard. The challenge for the future is to have our hearts transformed through a shared reflection on these experiences in the light of the Gospel.
His Holiness John Paul II beatified Edmund Ignatius Rice on October 6, 1996, in St. Peter’s Square. Blessed Edmund Rice was beatified after the Church investigated and recognized a medical miracle that was the result of people praying to Edmund Rice for his intercession with God.
More information on the life of Blessed Edmund Rice can be found by watching the video below and downloading this PDF file.