The Christian Brothers and their coming to and expanding in Oceania


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.


Read more about Br Ambrose Treacy   

Brother Patrick Ambrose Treacy

Patrick Ambrose Treacy paved the way for work of the
Congregation of Christian Brothers in Oceania.

"Christian Brother, Enterprising Immigrant”
by Br Regis Hickey

AmbroseTreacyBr Ambrose, as he was known, has been an outstanding figure not only for the Christian Brothers, but also in the Catholic Church in Australia and indeed in Australia as a whole.

He is notable for his dedication and selflessness, and his belief that everything he experienced was from the hands of a provident God. From an incident early in his life he had an outstanding devotion to Mary the Mother of God.

Ambrose arrived penniless in Australia with three other Christian Brothers in 1868. In addition to starting a school at St Francis in Melbourne, the Brothers began collecting from the settlers in Victoria and South Australia and from the miners in the gold fields of Queensland and

Western Australia to finance their schools. Some of these journeys on horseback to remote areas are the stuff of legend. During 30 years as lea

der of the Brothers, Ambrose opened more than 20 schools in Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Sydney and Perth, as well as in several country towns.

Ambrose’s mission efforts in New Zealand and in Oceania are detailed in Br Regis Hickey’s book “Ambrose Treacy: Christian Brother, Enterprising Immigrant”.

Significant to the Treacy story was his aim to nourish faith, extend compassion to those in need and provide educational opportunities for children at a time when Irish Catholics, because of penal laws, were at the bottom of the social ladder.

Ambrose opened his schools to all.

Ambrose died of cancer in 1912 and is buried in the Brothers’ plot in Nudgee Cemetery, Brisbane.

Download a comprehensive account of Ambrose’s work in the Oceanic region.

Br. Patrick Ambrose Treacy - An Overview


The grave of Br Patrick Ambrose Treacy holds the centre place of honour in the
Christian Brothers plot at the Nudgee Cemetery, Brisbane.

Read about Oceania Province   

Christian Brothers in Oceania

Christian Brothers first arrived in Oceania just 41 years after their foundation.

LogoOceania400While the story of the Christian Brothers begins in 1802 when Edmund Rice established his first school in Waterford, Ireland, the story of the Christian Brothers in Oceania starts in 1843 in Sydney.

Brothers Stephen Carroll, Peter Scannell and Francis Larkin arrived and established three schools in Abercrombie Street, Macquarie Street and Kent Street the Rocks before returning to Ireland in 1846 after issues with the local Church authorities.

In 1868, the Christian Brothers returned to Australia, this time arriving in Melbourne on the sailing ship Donald McKay. Its leader was the 34 year-old Br Patrick Ambrose Treacy and his three companions were Brothers Dominic Fursey Bodkin (24), John Barnabas Lynch (29) and non-teaching Brother Patrick Joseph Nolan (45).

The ‘schools’ opened on the 25 January 1869 at St Francis’s Church in central Melbourne. On 29 January 1871 Parade College was opened in Victoria Parade, Melbourne. Over the next ten years the Christian Brothers opened schools in Brisbane, Perth, Dunedin and Adelaide.

They also became involved in orphanages in Melbourne and Perth. It was due to the needs of the country areas that approval was given to open boarding schools.

While in the early days most of the Brothers were from Ireland, ‘colonials’ soon began to join the Brothers in Australasia. The first person to lead the Brothers in Australasia was Michael Benignus Hanrahan from Dunedin.

From the 1920s until the 1960s there was an influx of people joining the Brothers and so many new schools were opened.

With the growing numbers in 1953, the Australasian Province was divided first into two provinces. In 1959, New Zealand became a separate province in its own right.  In 1967 the two Australian Provinces divided into four.

This was to remain until 2007 when the five provinces and the region of Papua New Guinea restructured into the current Oceania Province – incorporating Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and Timor Leste.

In 1952, a group of Brothers established the first Christian Brothers’ community and school in Papua New Guinea and the first Melanesian Brother was received in 1957. By the 1960s, the Brothers were working in primary and secondary education, child welfare, schools for those with diminished sight and hearing, teacher training colleges, technical education and universities.

With the call to mission in the 1960’s through to the 1980s, new communities were opened in the Cook Islands, Fiji, Tonga, East Africa and also with the indigenous people of Australia and New Zealand in such places as Murupara, Broome, Wadeye and Bathurst Island.

As a result of reflecting on the founding charism and the call to be with people made poor, new communities and projects where established in lower socio-economic areas such as Mangere in Auckland, the western suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne, Girrawheen in Perth and Logan City in outer Brisbane. Flexi learning and alternative education centres were also established. Some Brothers went to China to work in language schools and a community was established in Timor Leste.

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.


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.


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.


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


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 Melbourne, Australia, and the Oceania Leadership Team (OLT) of five members operate from this base.


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.


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 Leadership 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.

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 Melbourne. 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.

Martin Sanderson cfc, Geoff Whitefield cfc, Gerard Brady cfc, Tim Moloney cfc, Paul Conn cfc
Province Leader:   Gerard Brady cfc
Province Deputy Leader:   Paul Conn cfc
Councillors:   Tim Moloney cfc
Geoff Whitefield cfc
Martin Sanderson cfc


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





"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

Interactive Computer Games

CONDITION OF USE:- Parent or teacher follows up with the student/s so that they actually do an extra prayer/helping activity in their own time.
After playing the game on their school’s network, students from these Brisbane schools did a fair few of the own time activities:- St Pius X, St Mark's, St Laurence's.
Below are 4 games for school children under 13 years of age. These games require a Windows operating system to run.

Click on the name to download each game. Open file with Windows Explorer. Select "RUN" to start the game.
The file was tested and found safe when loaded on this site.

href="images/Lino_Games/">Jagara Aborigines

  Edmund Rice Game English    Mary MacKillop Game   
   Edmund Rice Game TOK PISIN   Download the Jesus Game  
   Download the Jesus Game   Not in Use Yet  


Edmund Rice Oceania Vimeo Collection

This is a collection of nearly seventy videos available for public viewing.
Most are a little out-of-date but still useful.

View these Videos on Vimeo

I will draw your attention to just a few that I believe could be useful to show what we do.

Ambrose Arriving: A historical look at how the Brothers arrived in Oceania.


     Edmund Rice Song: A tribute to Edmund Rice from a Pilipino Singer.      


    East Timor: Shows the work of Brothers and Volunteers in East Timor:    


Request for material to share

If you have spent time and effort producing a resource such as:

  • Prayers for Edmund Rice Feast Day or other special day
  • Other general prayers addressed to Edmund Rice
  • Prayers for vocations to the Christian Brothers
  • Prayers which could be used at a meeting of Edmund Rice Followers
  • Liturgies
  • Hymns and songs
  • Videos
  • Work sheets which might be by teachers when giving a lesson on Edmund Rice
  • Perhaps a computer, broad or trivia game using information about ER and CB’s. (See examples above.)

and are willing to make them available to others I would be happy to consider them for publication on this page.

I have to be careful of copyright requirements as some of what may be used in a private prayer session may not be freely placed on a website.