World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Congregation of Christian Brothers

Congregation of Christian Brothers (aka Edmund Rice Christian Brothers)
Abbreviation CFC
Motto Facere et docere
(To do and to teach)
Formation 1802 (212 years ago)
Founder Edmund Ignatius Rice (1762-1844)
Type Roman Catholic religious order
  • Rome, Italy

The Congregation of Christian Brothers (officially, in Latin: Congregatio Fratrum Christianorum; members of the order use the post-nominal "CFC") is a worldwide religious community within the Catholic Church, founded by Edmund Rice (later beatified).[1]:24-25 The Christian Brothers, as they are commonly known, chiefly work for the evangelisation and education of youth, but are involved in many ministries, especially with the poor. Their first school was opened in Waterford, Ireland, in 1802.[1]:16-18 At the time of its foundation, though much relieved from the harshest of the Penal Laws by the Irish Parliament's Relief Acts, some discrimination against Catholics remained throughout the newly created United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland pending full Catholic Emancipation in 1829.

This congregation is sometimes confused with the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools – also known as the Christian Brothers, De La Salle Brothers and Lasallians – founded by Jean-Baptiste de la Salle (later canonised) in France. Rice's congregation is sometimes called the Irish Christian Brothers to differentiate the two teaching orders.


  • History 1
    • Formation 1.1
    • Expansion 1.2
  • Organisational structure of the Christian Brothers 2
  • Irish nationalism 3
  • Controversies 4
    • Canada 4.1
    • Ireland 4.2
    • United States 4.3
    • Australia 4.4
    • England 4.5
  • Publications 5
    • Textbooks 5.1
    • Our Boys 5.2
  • Notable Christian Brothers 6
  • Former pupils 7
  • See also 8
  • References 9
  • Further reading 10
  • External links 11



At the turn of the nineteenth century, Waterford merchant Edmund Rice considered travelling to Rome to join a religious institute, possibly the Augustinians. Instead, with the support of Dr. Thomas Hussey, Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Waterford and Lismore, he decided to found a religious community dedicated to teaching disadvantaged youth.[2]

The first school, on Waterford's New Street, was a converted stable and opened in 1802, with a second school opening in Stephen Street soon after to cater for increasing enrollment. Two men from his hometown of Callan, Thomas Grosvenor and Patrick Finn, soon arrived to aid Rice in his makeshift schools, with the intention of living the life of lay brothers. In the same year, Rice used proceeds from the sale of his victualling business to begin building a community house and school on land provided by the diocese. Bishop Hussey opened the new complex, christened “Mount Sion” on June 7, 1803, and pupils were transferred to the new school building the following year.[3] The reputation of the school spread and across the next few years several men sought to become “Michaels”.

On 15 August 1808 seven men, including Edmund Rice, took religious promises under Bishop John Power of Waterford. Following the example of Nano Nagle's Presentation Sisters, they were called "Presentation Brothers".[4] This was one of the first congregations of men to be founded in Ireland and one of the few founded in the Church by a layman.

Houses were soon opened in Carrick-on-Suir, Dungarvan, and in 1811, in Cork. In 1812 the Archbishop of Dublin established a community in the nation's capital and by 1907 there were ten communities in Dublin, with pupils in excess of 6,000. The schools included primary, secondary and technical schools, along with orphanages and a school for the deaf. A community was founded in Limerick in 1816, followed by establishments in several of Ireland's principal towns.

The Holy See formally established the congregation in 1820. This, too, was an unusual event, since the Christian Brothers were the first Irish congregation of men approved by a charter from Rome.

Some brothers in Cork chose to remain under the original Presentation rule and continued to be known as Presentation Brothers, a separate congregation but also recognising Edmund Rice as its Founder.


The congregation of Irish Christian Brothers spread to Liverpool and other parts of England. These new ventures were not always immediately successful. Two brothers had been sent to Gibraltar to establish an institute in 1835. However, despite initial successes they left in August 1837 on account of disagreements with the local priests.[5] In 1878 the Brothers returned to the then Crown colony of Gibraltar. The school eventually flourished supplying education to the twentieth century. The "Line Wall College" was noted in 1930 for the education that it supplied to "well to do" children.[6]

Similarly, a mission to Sydney, Australia in 1842 failed within a couple of years.[7] Brother Ambrose Treacy established a presence in Melbourne, Australia in 1868, in 1875 in Brisbane, Australia and in 1876 a school was commenced in Dunedin, New Zealand. In 1875 a school was opened in St. John’s, Newfoundland. In 1886 the Pope requested that they consider setting up in India, and a province of the congregation was established there.

In 1900 came the invitation to establish houses in Rome, and in 1906 schools were established in New York City.[2] In 1940 Iona College was founded in New York, as a Higher Education College,[8] facilitating poorer high school graduates to progress to a College education.

In 1955 Stella Maris College (Montevideo) in Uruguay was established. In 1972 the alumni rugby team was travelling in Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 when it crashed in the Andes, stranding survivors in freezing conditions with little food and no heat for 72 days; 16 of the 45 people on the aircraft survived.

The Christian Brothers teacher training center has become the Marino Institute for Education which has trained lay teachers since 1972 and has offered degrees validated by the University of Dublin since 1974. In 2012 Trinity College Dublin became a co-trustee with the Brothers of the Institute.[9]

The Brothers' schools include primary, secondary and technical schools, orphanages and schools for the deaf. A number of these technical schools originally taught poor children trades such as carpentry and building skills for which they could progress to gain apprenticeships and employment. As the National School system and vocational schools developed in the Irish Republic, the Irish Christian Brothers became more concentrated on secondary education.

Organisational structure of the Christian Brothers

Traditional crest of the Christian Brothers, incorporating the Latin motto Facere et docere ("To Do and To Teach"). Many schools run by the Brothers feature the cross in their school logo.

Geographically, the Christian Brothers are divided into several provinces that encompass every inhabited continent. The brothers within each province work under the direction of a Province Leadership Team. In turn, the entire Congregation operates under the leadership of a Congregation Leadership Team that is based in Rome (and led by the Congregation Leader). These provincial and congregational teams are elected on a 6-year basis at Congregation chapters.

Restructuring has taken place in the congregation to account for the changing needs, in particular the declining number of brothers in the developed world. The three provinces of North America (Canada, Eastern American, and Western American Province) restructured into the Edmund Rice Christian Brothers North America on 1 July 2005.[10] The provinces that cover registered charity.[13] The Dublin Headquarters are in the grounds of Marino Institute of Education, Claremont, Griffith Avenue, Dublin 9, Ireland.

A special community within this new European province will be based in United Nations. "This position allows groups the opportunity to challenge systemic injustice and to engage in advocacy work with policy makers on behalf of people who are made poor." As well as including Christian Brothers from provinces all over the world, members of the Presentation Brothers will also have a presence within this community.[14]

Edmund Rice Development is a faith-based Non-governmental Organisation with charity status in Ireland. Based in Dublin, Edmund Rice Development was established in 2009, to formalise the fundraising efforts of the developing world projects for the Christian Brothers globally and received its charitable status in 2009. Funding raised by the charity is directed mainly to 9 countries in Africa, where The Christian Brothers work on mission in development: Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Additional funds are also raised for similar work in South America (Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay) and India.

Irish nationalism

CBS Templemore, Co. Tipperary
April 2010

The Irish Christian Brothers were strong supporters of Irish nationalism, the Irish Language revival and Irish sports. In most of their schools in Ireland Gaelic football and hurling were encouraged as opposed to other sports and there were even examples of boys being punished for playing soccer. Conor Cruise O'Brien called them "the most indefatigable and explicit carriers" of the Catholic nation idea.[15]


In the late 20th and early 21st century the reputation of the congregation suffered from the exposure of a long series of scandals involving continuing emotional, physical and sexual abuse of Irish children in the congregation's care over many decades. Similar abuse emerged also in other countries where the congregation had had a presence, including Canada, the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom.


In 1987 men came forward to say that when they were being raised in Mount Cashel Orphanage in St. John's Newfoundland from the 1950s until the 1970s they had suffered physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, and that when the Archdiocese became aware of the abuse, it had removed brothers who were guilty of these acts, but taken no other action and said nothing.


The Congregation of the Christian Brothers published full-page advertisements in newspapers in Ireland in March 1998, apologizing to former pupils who had been ill-treated whilst in their care. This advertising campaign expressed "deep regret" on behalf of the Christian Brothers and listed telephone lines which former pupils could ring if they needed help.[16] In 2003 the Congregation brought a case against the

  • Catholic Encyclopædia
  • Christian Brothers
  • Christian Brothers on Edmund Rice

External links

  • Davies, K. (1994) When Innocence Trembles: The Christian Brothers Orphanage Tragedy. (Angus & Robertson: Sydney) ISBN 0-207-18419-4
  • Normoyle, M. C. A Tree is Planted: The Life and Times of Edmund Rice (Congregation of Christian Brothers: n.l., 1976)
  • Humphreys, Margaret. Empty Cradles. Corgi, 1996. ISBN 0-552-14164-X

Further reading

  1. ^ a b "The Life of Blessed Edmund Rice (1762–1844" (PDF). Christian Brothers Foundation, New York U.S.A. 2005. 
  2. ^ a b "Our Roots", Congregation of Christian Brothers, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.
  3. ^ Normoyle, M.C. (1976). A Tree is Planted: The Life and Times of Edmund Rice. Congregation of Christian Brothers. pp. 45–50. 
  4. ^ Normoyle, M.C. (1976). A Tree is Planted: The Life and Times of Edmund Rice. Congregation of Christian Brothers. p. 71. 
  5. ^ Normoyle, M.C. (1976). A Tree is Planted: The Life and Times of Edmund Rice. Congregation of Christian Brothers. pp. 289–296. 
  6. ^ Gibraltar Directory for 1930, accessed 8 May 2013
  7. ^ Normoyle, M.C. (1976). A Tree is Planted: The Life and Times of Edmund Rice. Congregation of Christian Brothers. pp. 405–406. 
  8. ^ About Iona College Iona College Website.
  9. ^ Trinity College Dublin Enters into a Co-Trusteeship of the Marino Institute of Education Communications Office TCD, January 30, 2012.
  10. ^ Embracing a Common Future
  11. ^ - New European Province
  12. ^ Shaping Our Future
  13. ^ Trust property held in connection with the English Province of the Congregation of Christian Brothers, Registered Charity no. 254312 at the Charity Commission
  14. ^ Presence, Compassion, Liberation
  15. ^ Portrait of a Christian crusader - Reviewed by Dermot Bolger, Sunday Business Post, August 31, 2008.
  16. ^ "Catholic order apologises publicly for abuse". BBC News. 1998-03-30. Retrieved 2009-04-08. 
  17. ^ McGarry, Patsy (26 June 2004). "Christian Brothers Decide to Drop Appeal". Irish Times. 
  18. ^ Report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse (Ireland), 2009. Chapter 6 of Volume 1 covers the Christian Brothers
  19. ^ L&P (financial and management services) Official website. Accessed 15 October 2015
  20. ^ O'Reilly, Emily. Irish company in asset probe on Christian Brothers The Ragged Wagon, 2 December 2001. Accessed 15 October 2015
  21. ^ "Christian Brother caught in Net sex sting". Chicago Sun Times. 1998-04-21. Retrieved 2010-01-09. 
  22. ^ "Statement Regarding Judge's Ruling on Parole Violation of St. Louis Sex Offender". The Joliet Daily News. 2004-03-26. Retrieved 2010-01-09. 
  23. ^ "Christian brother found guilty of child sex offences". Australian Broadcasting Commission. 2011-07-25. Retrieved 2011-07-25. 
  24. ^ "Christian Brother jailed for sex abuse". Australian Broadcasting Commission. 2011-08-08. Retrieved 2011-08-08. 
  25. ^ Morris, Madeleine. "Christian Brothers spent $1m defending paedophile", ABC News (Australia), Australia, 3 May 2013. Retrieved on 3 May 2013.
  26. ^ Report of Case Study 11, Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (Australia), p.12 (folio 7) at official website, 19 December 2014
  27. ^ Banks, Amanda, Legal Affairs Editor. "Christian Brothers cop blast", The Weekend West, 20–21 December 2014, p.11
  28. ^ Report of Case Study 11 Media release, at official website, 19 December 2014
  29. ^ Report of Case Study no. 11 - Congregation of Christian Brothers in Western Australia response to child sexual abuse at Castledare Junior Orphanage, St Vincent’s Orphanage Clontarf, St Mary’s Agricultural School Tardun and Bindoon Farm School PDF at official web site, 19 December 2014
  30. ^ Scheerhout, John (5 December 2012). "Police launch child sex abuse probe at top all-boys school near Altrincham | Manchester Evening News". Retrieved 2012-12-08. 
  31. ^ The Telegraph: Man reveals abuse he suffered at hands of former teacher and church deacon, 28 August 2014
  32. ^ True Sons of Erin:Catholic/Nationalist Ideology and the Politics of Adventure in Our Boys 1914-32 by Michael Flannagan, PhD Thesis, DIT.


See also

The Christian Brothers have taught many notable persons.

Former pupils

Notable Christian Brothers

[32] was a magazine for boys by Christian Brothers and the Educational Company of Ireland, published from September 1914 until the 1990s. It was based on British Our Boys

Our Boys

  • Irish History Reader, Christian Brothers, M. H. Gill & Son, 1905.
  • Graiméar na Gaeidhilge, Na Bráithre Críostaí, 1907.
  • Matamaitic na hArdteistiméireachta Na Bráithre Críostaí, 1967.
  • Leaving Certificate Chemistry, Christian Brothers Congregation, Folens, Dublin.
  • Leaving Certificate Physics[translated from the Irish], Christian Brothers Congregation, Folens, Dublin, 1973.


The Christian brothers composed and published a number of text books on several subjects, many in the Irish language, which were used by their schools.


In December 2012 the Christian Brothers school St Ambrose college, Altrincham, Greater Manchester, was implicated in a child sex abuse case involving teaching staff carrying out acts of abuse both on and off school grounds.[30][31]


In December 2014 a royal commission found that "Christian Brothers leaders knew of allegations of sexual abuse of children at four WA orphanages and failed to manage the homes to prevent the systemic ill-treatment for decades."[27][28] It also found that the institution was concerned by the cost of legal proceedings, and "there was no sentiment of recognising the suffering of the survivors."[29]

Convicted sex-offenders in Australia include Brother Robert Best, who taught at Catholic primary and secondary schools in Ballarat, Box Hill and Geelong (all in Victoria, Australia) between the 1960s and 1980s. He was convicted by a jury after pleading guilty to more than 40 child sex offences against dozens of students, some as young as eight years old.[23] Robert Best was sentenced to fourteen years and nine months jail on August 8, 2011. Many of his victims were in court for the sentencing and shouted at him as he was led away.[24] In May 2013 the Christian Brothers admitted to Victoria's parliamentary inquiry into child abuse that they did what they could to defend members accused of sexual assault against children. They admitted to hiring a private investigator to follow one of Brother Robert Best's victims. They spent nearly A$1 million defending Best, and hundreds of thousands to defend other members also accused of rape.[25][26]


According to the Chicago-Sun Times, in 1998 Brother Robert Brouillette was arrested in Joliet, Illinois, for indecent solicitation of a child.[21] In 2002, a civil lawsuit was filed in Cook County, Illinois, against Brother Brouillette for sexual assault against a 21-year-old man.[22]

United States


This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.