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AN OVERVIEW OF OUR STORY

The Christian Brothers and their coming to and expanding in Oceania

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Our History

From the humblest of beginnings in 1802, Blessed Edmund Rice and his Christian Brothers have grown from their first stable school in Waterford in post-Penal Ireland, to classrooms and ministries in 29 countries across the globe.

 

Since 1802 our work has spread to 29 countries.

From the humblest of beginnings in 1802, Blessed Edmund Rice and his Christian Brothers have grown from their first stable school in Waterford in post-Penal Ireland, to classrooms and ministries in 29 countries across the globe.

The pivotal story in the history of the Christian Brothers is that of its founder, Blessed Edmund Rice. The Charism of the founder still informs and inspires the Mission of the Congregation worldwide.

The Christian Brothers first came to parts of the Oceania Province in 1843. The presence of the Christian Brothers in Oceania began in Sydney and quickly spread throughout Australia, to New Zealand and then later through Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and Timor Leste.

A key figure in the history of the Christian Brothers in the Oceania Province is Br Patrick Ambrose Treacy – most notable for his selflessness and determination. In short, secondary education for ordinary people in Australia owes its beginning to Br Ambrose.

Read More of our founders and the history of the Oceania Province

Read about Blessed Edmund Rice

Blessed Edmund Rice (1762 – 1844)

Blessed Edmund Rice was a lay man, a husband and father, a widower and a visionary.

EdmundRiceBible Sensitively present to God’s poor, Edmund responded to the call of the Gospel with an educational vision – offering liberation for the poor of Waterford.

Edmund Rice was born in 1762, in Callan, Ireland to a modestly prosperous family. They were never to experience the worst of the penal laws which denied Catholics rights enjoyed by other citizens.

Although the fourth child, Edmund was the first of the six sons to be formally educated which led to a mercantile apprenticeship with his uncle in Waterford.

He married in 1785, and was remembered as being “remarkable for his affection and regard for his wife”. Surprisingly, the couple settled in notorious Ballybricken, a Waterford suburb punctuated with borderless markets, makeshift cattle and pig pens, open-air abattoirs, military barracks, extensive prostitution and numerous fatherless and orphaned children.

It is in Ballybricken that Edmund became sensitively present to God’s poor, a presence that stirred in him a compassion that transformed him.

A “delicate” baby girl, christened Mary blest the union. Sadly, in January, 1789 Mrs Rice died, probably of cholera, a “fever” that devastated Waterford’s population.

Immediately, Edmund moved home to the quay with its healthy breezes, where he raised Mary as a single father. It seems that Rice’s experience of married love, his exposure to the rawness of Ballybricken and his intimate experience of fatherhood compelled him to remain unmarried and to seek another way of living and sharing his extensive wealth.

In 1793, he consulted Callen’s Bishop Lanigan, who introduced him to the concept of vowed teaching lay brothers.

"Edmund Rice showed people that life could be lived differently, that human relationships could be different, that the dominant culture need not have the answers to how a society operated."

Philip Pinto cfc, Congregation Leader, 2006

From this time, Edmund prayed about and planned for a future Christian Brotherhood.

It was in 1802, when the teenage Mary was needed in the Callan family home to assist Edmund’s youngest brother, Richard, and his young wife to raise a large family, that Edmund became free to pioneer his education vision.

Edmund’s initiative attracted like-minded, compassionate followers, his Christian Brothers, who like him desired to embrace a life, living with Jesus in their hearts and serving God’s dear little ones, the term Edmund used to describe the pupils.

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The Agenda of the WorldThe Role of the Christian Brothers

The Christian Brothers receive their mandate as a Religious Congregation from the Catholic Church. This was received on January 20th 1820. Jesus had a unique experience of God; this experience shaped his life and mission.  The Christian Brothers seek to “keep alive the dangerous memory of Jesus” for Church and society.

 

The Christian Brothers receive their mandate as a Religious Congregation from the Catholic Church. This was received on January 20th 1820.

Jesus had a unique experience of God; this experience shaped his life and mission. Religious Life began as an inspired movement of Christian believers who sought to live as radical disciples of Jesus. They sought to “keep alive the dangerous memory of Jesus” for Church and society. Their lifestyle highlighted the values of Jesus and challenged the practices of the times, including promiscuity, hierarchical abuse of power, consumerism and individualism.

FormationS

Pope Francis has called consecrated woman and men to be people who
awaken the world'.

Nairobi Congregation Chapter 2014

A Christian Brother publicly aligns his life with Jesus’ search for God and his mission to spread the Reign of God. “Brother” is essentially a relational identity rather than a title, and so the Brothers work within society and Church relationally, rather than hierarchically.

Hug africaTo be a Christian Brother is to engage with and be present to all people with humility, empathy, and an open heart.
Taking the “search for God” honestly and seriously is a particular gift a Christian Brother offers the Church. It can lead a Christian Brother to a thoughtful and critical understanding of the Catholic faith.

The fruits of this understanding, when shared are often an inspiration to the faith of other Church members searching to deepen their own faith.

Within Religious Life, the Christian Brother’s vocation is complete and internally coherent; it expresses a particular identity and mission in the Catholic Church. It is also a way of life lived in freedom from clericalism. As a man, a Christian Brother can show to others, especially women, a face of Christ that does not seek to dominate but to remain gently present.

ResourcesResources

Teachers and any one else wishing to source material about the Christian Brothers and more specifically about the Brothers in the Oceania Region will find helpful resources in this section.

 

This page is for teachers or any one else wishing to source material about the Christian Brothers and more specifically about the Brothers in the Oceania Region.

Resources on Christian Brothers Globally and Edmund Rice are stored on the "Global Edmund Rice Network" website.
The drop down menus under the heading "Edmund Rice" provide a wide range of Resources.

Access resources on Global Edmund Rice Network


Resources on Christian Brothers in Oceania can be found under the "Our Story" menu on this site .

History of Brothers in Oceania

BIG BROTHER

THE AMAZING INFLUENCE THAT THE CHRISTIANBROTHERS HAVE HAD ON EDUCATION IN AUSTRALIA.

CELEBRATING THE 250TH YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF THE FOUNDER, BLESSED EDMUND RICE (1762-2012) AND 100TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE DEATH OF BROTHER AMBROSE TREACY (1834-1912).
 By M.D.WILLIAMS
 
"Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School, Launceston, TAS" website provides this document which gives a simple and clear explanation of who Edmund Rice was, how the Brothers came to Australia, the part played by Ambrose Treacy and some other played Brothers played in providing Catholic Education in Oceania.

Download this Resource

Oceania OLTGovernance

Oceania Province of the Congregation of Christian Brothers is a canonical entity created by the Congregation Leader  on 1 October 2007. It is an entity within the Congregation of Christian Brothers - a Religious Institute in the Catholic Church. Locally it is governed by the Province Leadership Team which answer to the Congregation Leadership Team which answer to the Pope.

  Governance 

Oceania Province of the Congregation of Christian Brothers is a canonical entity created by the Congregation Leader on 1 October 2007.

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Recent History

Oceania is an amalgamation of the former entities: Holy Spirit Province, St Francis Xavier Province, St Joseph’s Province, St Mary’s Province, St Patrick’s Province and the Edmund Rice Region of Papua New Guinea.

The Oceania Province comprises communities of Christian Brothers and Ministries inspired by the Edmund Rice charism in Australia, Timor Leste, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and The Philippines.

The Oceania Province is governed from the Oceania Province Centre in Brisbane, Australia, and the Oceania Leadership Team (OLT) of six members, along with the Province Secretariat and the Mission Directorate and Resources Directorate, operate from this base.

Canonical

Oceania Province is an entity within the Congregation of Christian Brothers - a Religious Institute in the Catholic Church.

The Brothers, as members of the Province, form this canonical legal entity called a Public Juridic Person and the Province Leader and his team act as the Stewards of this canonical entity.

The Constitutions and Statutes of the Congregation and the Acts of Chapter of the Province provided the specific law under which the Province operates within the Church.

Because the Christian Brothers are an Institute of Pontifical Right they are responsible for their stewardship directly to the Pope rather than to a specific local Bishop.

The Oceania Leadership Team fulfils these reporting obligations through the Congregation Leadership Team based in Rome.

Civil

The complexity of the civil structure of the Oceania Province is significant. Oceania Province is a cross-national entity as it spans five sovereign nations, New Zealand, Australia, Papua New Guinea, The Philippines, Timor Leste. Consequently it comprises a number of civil corporate entities.

Additionally within Australia, entities that constituted the civil authority within the former Provinces remain constituted.

Christian Brothers Leadership Teams

Congregation Leatership Team

The Congregation Leadership Team comprises five Christian Brothers, elected by the Congregation Chapter delegates for a period of six years.

The Congregation Leadership Team provides guidance, encouragement and general leadership to all the Brothers around the world. They assist the Province Leadership and individual Brothers to respond to the Calls and Directions of the Congregation Chapter.

CLT Photo

Congregation Leader:  Hugh O'Neill cfc (front centre)
Deputy Leader:  Peter Dowling cfc (front left)
Councillors:  Julian McDonald cfc (back right)
John Casey cfc (front right)
Richard Walsh cfc (back left)

Oceania Leadership Team

The Oceania Leadership Team comprises six Christian Brothers, chosen from among all Brothers in Oceania. They are appointed by the Congregation Leadership Team following the Province Chapter.

The role of the Oceania Leadership Team is to oversee and govern the work of the organisation, working faithfully to the Constitution and directions of the Congregation and Chapter.

The Oceania Leadership Team has a central location in Brisbane. It aims to develop right relationships at the local level as well as inter-relationships at all levels to serve the wider mission of the Christian Brothers.

Oceania OLTGerard Brady cfc , Ted Magee cfc , John Webb cfc , Peter Clinch cfc, Chris Meehl cfc(now TST) , Bernie Gartland cfc
Province Leader: Peter Clinch cfc
Province Deputy Leader: Ted Magee cfc
Councillors: Bernie Gartland cfc
Gerard Brady cfc
John Webb cfc