Blessed Edmund Rice received a unique gift from God: a Gospel that reveals Jesus Christ as present and appealing to him in the poor.
Young men were among the poor people of nineteenth century Ireland without access to basic education and religious instruction. Edmund responded to this need by establishing schools as well as founding the Congregation of Christian Brothers in 1802. Schools conducted by the Congregation of Christian Brothers are now established throughout the world.
Today, the Edmund Rice Christian Brothers North America and their colleagues reaffirm the essential characteristics of an Edmund Rice Christian Brother Education. The Essential Elements were first written in 2000 after interviews, group discussions, surveys, and extensive participation by representative of various communities. At a gathering in July of 2006, the power of these documents was reaffirmed by delegates from each ministry site and other Christian Brother stakeholders.
Edmund Rice Christian Brother ministries continue to assure mission effectiveness because they can test their faithfulness to Edmund’s vision and their basic educational values against the background of clearly stated Essential Elements. The Essential Elements of an Edmund Rice Christian Brother Education find their source in ministry begun by Jesus Christ and their inspiration in the vision of Blessed Edmund Rice. These essential elements serve as a guide and standard in the Edmund Rice Christian Brothers’ current ministries and in future endeavors.
Blessed Edmund Rice was given the grace to respond to the call of Jesus by identifying with Christ in the poor. His example evoked a deep awareness of God’s presence in all with whom he came in contact. He also awakened within them a consciousness of their dignity as children of God. He invited his followers to share the Gospel insight to reach out to the needy, especially the materially poor.
The life of Blessed Edmund Rice – businessman, husband, father, widower, religious brother, teacher, and founder – challenges all involved in Christian Brother Education to live and preach Gospel values. His vision inspires the Essential Elements of an Edmund Rice Christian Brother Education.
The Essential Elements Of An Edmund Rice Christian Brother Education Calls Educational Ministry Sites and Those Working In Them To:
I. Evangelize Youth Within The Mission Of The Church
- Proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ in word and deed
- Permeate the entire curriculum, activities, and all aspects of the educational process with the Gospel message of Jesus Christ
- Encourage young people to a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ
- Provide opportunities for liturgies, retreats, vocation awareness workshops and daily prayer
II. Proclaim And Witness To Catholic Identity
- Give priority to religious instruction with opportunities for faith development and religious understanding
- Participate in the sacramental life of the Church and model a living faith through the use of rituals and symbols
- Foster devotion to Mary and the communion of the saints
- Ensure that Catholic identity permeates all endeavors: all classes and activities, procedures and policies, services and programs
III. Stand In Solidarity With Those Marginalized By Poverty And Injustice
- Promote policies and structures that reflect a climate of compassion for the poor and disadvantaged
- Include advocacy for peace, justice, global awareness, and care for the Earth
- Prepare students to work toward the creation of a just society
- Encourage ministry experiences that work with and serve the poor and marginalized
- Support mission areas at home and abroad
- Establish tuition and scholarship policies that open educational opportunities to the poor and disadvantaged
IV. Foster and Invigorate a Community of Faith
- Provide a disciplined, safe atmosphere in which students are free to grow and take responsibility for their own learning and for the life of the community
- Sustain compassionate, respectful relationships among all stakeholders
- Be in union with the Church through commitment to service and formation of community
- Encourage faculty and staff to give daily witness to their integral role in communal faith formation
- Embrace the human condition and welcome God’s healing
V. Celebrate the Value and Dignity of each Person and Nurture the Development of the Whole Person
- Promote respect for each individual as created in the image and likeness of God
- Value the diversity of the human family and seek to reflect diversity among students, faculty, and staff
- Promote strong programs for personal, professional, and pastoral care
- Offer co-curricular activities that are important to a student’s holistic education
- Strive to provide just remuneration for faculty and staff
VI. Collaborate and Share Responsibility for the Mission
- Empower all members of the community to share in the mission
- Work with parents who are the primary educators
- Collaborate with Edmund Rice Christian Brother ministries on local, regional, and international levels
- Foster a deeper understanding of the vision of Blessed Edmund
- Promote active participation in governance by boards and diocesan officials
VII. Pursue Excellence in all Endeavors
- Promote a strong academic curriculum and cultivate a desire for excellence
- Develop and educational culture that fosters the growth of the whole person, higher-order thinking, and life-long learning