Tirelessly working to help alleviate the poverty among Catholics, forbidden by the penal laws of the late-18th Century Ireland, to hold jobs or attend school or church, Edmund's interest was soon directed to the young boys of the city. in 1802, he rented a disused stable in the fashionable New Street in Waterford, Ireland and began his first school to provide a Catholic education for poor boys. Poorly dressed, dirty, hungry and uneducated, these forgotten waifs of Ireland became his mission. He and his followers fearlessly challenged the rulers of the day on their behalf, opening schools and looking after their temporal, spiritual and educational well-being. Under their protective care, the children, once unruly, unkempt and unloved, thrived.
The schools that were founded in 1803 and 1804 were not called Christian Brothers' schools, since Rice and his friends were only laymen, although they were all religious people. It was not until 1808, after the founding of the school at Mount Sion, that Edmond Rice and his friends decided to take religious vows and to wear habits. Each of them took a new name, and Edmund became Edmund Ignatius Rice, the leader of a dedicated band of men who were to change the picture of education in Ireland and in the world.
In 1820, Pope Pius VII sanctioned the establishment of the Order under the name of Religious Brothers of the Christian Brothers of Ireland, and in 1822, Br. Rice was elected as the first Superior General, a title he held until 1838.
Word of Brother Rice's success in training poor young men in Catholic tradition spread, bringing invitations to open schools in various parts of the world. Before his death in 1844, 43 schools, including 6 in England, serving 7,510 boys, were following the educational tenets started by Brother Rice.
A most extraordinary event occurred on October 6, 1996, when Brother Rice was beatified by Pope John Paul II. Of Blessed Rice, he said, "Here we have an outstanding model of a true lay apostle and a deeply committed Religious . . .". In both the United States and Europe, special events and liturgies praised the name of Brother Rice.
In August 2010, the Christian Brothers announced that due to declining vocations they would no longer be able to staff Bishop Hendricken after the 2010-2011 school year. While this news is indeed sad, we are heartened by the strong foundation of excellence that the brothers have left. Our Mission statement and the Essential Elements of a Christian Brother education will continue to be the guiding lights of our school well into the future.
We thank all of the 68 Christian brothers who staffed our school over these past 40 years. In a particular way, we thank the “Final Four,” Brothers Mike Binkley, Steve Casey, John Kiernan, and Tom Leto for their wisdom, understanding and faith. We pledge to you and to the entire Christian Brother family that we will carry on the legacy of your Founder, Blessed Edmund Rice.
Brother Rice's invincible spirit lives on in classrooms throughout the world, where Brothers faithful to the heritage given to them by this modest and holy man daily carry out his work of love. And it lives among all those who through nearly two centuries have reaped the benefits of such an education. Echoing on the lips of Christian Brothers everywhere, we hear Blessed Edmund's own words repeated through the ages: