Who was Edmund Rice?

By Kavanagh staff | Posted: Tuesday February 14, 2017

Edmund Rice has helped shaped the core values of Kavanagh College.

Edmund Rice was born in Ireland in 1762. While still quite young, he became a wealthy businessman in spite of being an active Catholic at a time when Catholics were discriminated against.

Following the death of his pregnant wife, believed to be in a horse riding accident and the subsequent birth of his daughter with disabilities, Edmund felt a call to reassess his life. After ten years of searching, he was about to join a monastery until his sister-in-law said that his true work lay all around him, with the downtrodden and needy of his own community.

Edmund left his home and devoted his fortune to providing opportunities for their growth and education. He opened a school in a stable, living in the loft, and began teaching in the Catholic tradition, which was illegal at that time. After some initial disappointments other people, inspired by his example, joined him in offering their lives for the service of those in need.

This developed into the organisation known today as the Christian Brothers, dedicated to the welfare and education of youth. Edmund died on the 29th of August 1844 and was beatified by Pope John Paul II in October 1996.

Edmund’s story is all the more powerful because so many of us can relate to some of his experiences. He was, at various times, a millionaire, a love-struck newlywed, a grieving husband, a single parent, a member of a persecuted minority, and a struggling teacher. The Edmund Rice Camps try to follow his example and live out the spirit of Edmund Rice. Through the work we do, we experience some small part of the sacrifices and joy that Edmund Rice himself knew over a century ago.

We remember Blessed Edmund particularly as the founder of the Christian Brothers because they are one of the founding orders of our school.

The first community of Christian Brothers in Dunedin was established in 1876. And they immediately began Edmund’s work of educating young men in the city.

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