The Tradition of Edmund Rice Education
Born on 1 June 1762 in Callan, County Kilkenny, Ireland, Edmund grew up in a relatively well-off Catholic family at a time when Ireland was under British rule and anti-Catholic Penal Laws were in force.
After receiving his initial education, Edmund joined his uncle's business in providing supplies for the British Navy and Army at Waterford. He became very wealthy. After his uncle's death, Edmund inherited the business and got married. Sadly, his wife died not long after giving birth to their daughter.
Edmund realised that education was essential to liberating young men from their circumstances. This led him to sell his business and begin to instruct poor boys living on the streets of Waterford. He provided food, clothing and education for 200 to 300 students. His curriculum was designed to help students work in business and commerce, and build their spiritual practice knowledge of the Bible. The opportunity to become educated changed many boys' lives.
Edmund Rice was a radical revolutionary who believed that by opening the hearts and minds of boys and young men, they would be filled with the hope that they were free to build a better life for all.
Before long he was training the men who responded to his invitation to join him in this enterprise. When Br Edmund Rice died in 1844, 117 brothers made up the small congregation that had grown up around him.
Br Patrick Ambrose Treacy was selected to lead a small community of Brothers in Australia in 1868. In 1875, the Brothers arrived in Queensland and opened St Joseph's College, Gregory Terrace, thus beginning their association with Queensland Education. Gregory Terrace began as the first Catholic Boys' Secondary School in the colony.
Throughout the years the Christian Brothers opened several day and boarding colleges throughout the state and in recent years have consolidated their commitment in this area. With a rich tradition in provision of education, the Brothers expanded their commitment to other ministries as well.
Pope John Paul II beatified Edmund Rice at a ceremony in St. Peter's Square, Rome, on 6 October 1996 and he became known as Blessed Edmund Ignatius Rice. His official feast day is May 5.
In October 2007, the congregation of Christian Brothers handed over governance of their schools in Australia to the board of Edmund Rice Education Australia.