Charism.rtf The Charism of Edmund Rice

in a secularised age

The Founder of the Christian Brothers

Barry M Coldrey

'The charism of Edmund Rice in a secular age'

* Barry M Coldrey, 1939 -

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First edition 2001

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Table of Contents

1 'From the tomb of Alzheimers Disease

2 'He heard the cry of the poor'

3 Epiphanies of secularisation

4 The path to secularisation

5 The call to spiritual conversion

6 Edmund Rice's conversion experience

7 A meditation on charism

8 The cosmic dimension

9 The religious threat to Catholic youth

10 Proselytising schools in Ireland

11 'Most wouldn't get a job now'

12 Revisiting the charism

13 The Edmund Rice Family and the charism

14 Even in the missions

15 Conclusion

Introduction

At some point in the 1980s, the Superior-General asked Brother Gerard Kilmartin, a deeply spiritual man and one of the foremost intellectuals in the Congregation, to explore the issue of the charism of Edmund Rice and the Christian Brothers. During the following years and against a background of age and ill-health Brother Kilmartin developed his insights in his note books. However, the project never came to fruition as Brother developed Altzheimers disease and had to be placed in care. However, before this stage was reached, Brother gave his note books to a younger former student and his insights were published in the late 1980s in two Congregation journals.

It was, and remains a time of rapid and escalating change in society generally, in the church and in the Congregation. The secularisation process, almost complete in society, has had a deep influence on the consecrated life. Brother Kilmartin observed the trend and deplored its influence on the Congregation.1

The Spirit of God, Source of the Charism

'Something very cool'

After a recent Edmund Rice Family weekend in New Zealand, an older teenager commented: 'I learnt and experienced a whole stack of stuff about Eddy Rice. We are part of something very cool.' There is a verve in teenage argot. However, at the moment, many ageing Brothers probably do not feel very cool in their vocation; to mix the metaphors: many are tired and some are 'hot under the collar.'

The times are troubled for the Christian Brothers, with a sense of breakdown, division and conflict, a crisis of significance, confused loyalties and diverse spiritualities. Our reputation has been savaged in the media; some Brothers and members of the Edmund Rice family move with their udders dragging on the ground. The Word is chilled for many.

It happens that many traditional Congregations in the Western world are also faced with diminishing numbers, few vocations and the age profiles moving inexorably upwards in a similar situation. The question is asked in different ways: are we presiding over smoldering ruins or is there a phoenix in the ashes?' A recent Superior-General remarked to the author a number of times that the chaos in the Congregation and in much of Religious life would continue for some years. That Superior-General is dead and the chaos continues.2

When we explore the future of the Brothers charism in the church of the early twenty-first century, this writer is reminded of the description of 'fidelity' to tradition attributed to the Spanish painter, Pablo Picasso: 'Fidelity' does not mean wearing your grandfather's hat; it means having a baby!3 In the case of the Christian Brothers this might mean 'not wearing the traditional habit' but developing the wider Edmund Rice Family.

Loyalty to the heritage of Edmund and all those who have gone before us in this family called 'Christian Brothers' demands our own unique response at once creative and courageous. The Second Vatican Council sent Religious Congregations back to the spirit of their Founders, to the 'original inspiration behind a given community'4

'He heard the cry of the poor'

Some two years ago I wrote an article for Alpha and the Christian Brothers Educational Record entitled 'The Charism of Edmund Rice Opposition to Protestant Proselytism'. Recently (1989) Brother Gerard Kilmartin, well-known in Australia and Ireland to Brothers of an older generation made available to me his notebooks and research into the charism and work of the Founder. Gerard knew that he was suffering from alzheimers disease and would soon be unable to remember anything. Gerard's research has has not changed the view expressed in the earlier article, but provides insights and impressions of Edmund and his charism which should see the light of day at a time when such matters are discussed urgently by many in the Congregation and its extended Religious family. It is my pleasure to make them available to a number of Brothers.

The charism usually proposed for Edmund Rice is that 'he heard the cry of the poor' and there has been a stress on his clothing, feeding and teaching the extremely poor and marginalised urban underclass to assist the condemned, the gaoled, the deprived, the oppressed and the desperate. While true as far as it goes, 'he heard the cry of the poor' has tended to be interpreted in an increasingly secular world in an increasingly secular way. It is true that the poor need bread (or rice!) or the skills to plant better grain, but, In fact, the desperately poor need Christ. The increasingly marginalised require salvation as much as the rich, the middle-class or anyone else. This tends to be obscured.

The Brother's ministry offers the chance to be dedicated in mind, body and soul to the cause of human salvation, whereas some descriptions of ministry seem to have it indistinguishable from social work .We must emphasise what is of unique value, namely the salvific work of Brothers ministry. We must convey the value of this work more effectively On the other hand, the growth of a certain worldliness with neglect of prayer, eucharist and the sacraments especially the classic daily eucharist of the vowed follower of Christ has given an unfortunate secular stress to the charism. These failures make it obvious that a wrong turning or mistaken emphasis has been given to what Edmund Rice was trying to do, in responding to his call.

The charism of Edmund Rice was to instruct ignorant boys and young men in the Catholic faith - Gerald Kilmartin, c 1989

In the core of every Religious Order, when the observer stands back and abstracts the basics there are a number of levels

1 a call to holiness, to seek salvation; to move closer to Christ (for the self)

2 a call to witness, to do something to assist (some) others to seek their eternal salvation; to move closer to God, to find Christ, and

3 to meet some of the others needs a need the Founder may have observed not being done in some geographical area or in some part of the institutional church (education, nursing, aged care) in a spirit of Christian compassion.

However, there are priorities and the call to holiness, the search for God is in the first place; and attempting to serve people in their human needs is in third place, though important and though in terms of time spent it may take up most of the waking hours. The trouble is that sometimes it appears to take up all the waking hours.

First and foremost the Brother (and priest) are spiritual leaders, signs of, and witnesses to the spiritual to Christ in His Church.

There is a priority in running through these basics of all Religious Congregations, however, and important though all are, the priority says that the spiritual comes first; and serving or empowering others, often the marginalised and society's losers by way of education, health care, a mission to the handicapped, the marginalised, the rejects they are all are vital but are not the first priority. The Founder was not into spiritually blind social activism. Edmund Rice was not a social worker nor an 'Irish Volunteer Abroad' before his time.The pressure of the here and now, as against the intangible spiritual quest for the unseen God, can scramble the priorities.

Serving people, especially the poor is a vital part of the church's ministry, but in addition, the mission has other and more important strands. In a recent address to the German Church, Pope John Paul II stressed this sort of thinking: The German Church is criticised for liberalism and spiritual weakness. 'Correct erroneous developments in church life'; the Holy Father advises, 'Your church has a strong organisational structure and offers many social services to thepublic, none the less it is lacking in faith and inner strength. More and more people have withdrawn from active participation in church life and now have an a la carte view of Catholicism. This is shallow and empty; Church leaders must stress Catholic teaching5

Epiphanies of Secularisation

At this stage, it would be a fair question to ask the author: what has prompted you to return to your file on Edmund's charism, 10?15 years after you completed the articles which were published more than ten years ago? Moreover, while your co-author, Brother Gerard Kilmartin, is still alive in his nineties, the degenerative disease has taken its toll and now he cannot remember anything or recognise any of the senior Brothers who still call to visit him at his nursing home? Moreover for years you have been writing on child migration, residential child care history, abuses in care and the sexual abuse crisis in the Australian Catholic church ? There is little on charism here, though some of the evidence might suggest that for some the charism is atrophied, dying, irrelevant, distorted or dead.

The question is reasonable. This is my reply: Over the last few months a number of small incidents epiphanies have occurred which prompted a rummage through the four-drawer filing cabinets for the fading brief on charism.

(1) One epiphany concerned the Edmund Rice Camps. The world wide Edmund Rice Camps have been a successful feature of the Congregation's mission over the past 15?20 years. They provide a week's holiday for deprived young people and mix dedicated young leaders with a variety of younger Christian Brothers. It was only recently that a member of the Province Leadership Team in Melbourne remarked, in passing, that on Sunday mornings during a camp he had given up mentioning Sunday Mass. None of the young leaders mostly older teenagers from ours and other Catholic colleges wants to go! Our young leaders are among the unchurched. This is hardly the real Edmund Rice. Something seems to be wrong somewhere.

(2) The second incident slightly dramatised reflects the desperation among some to find even the merest hint of spirituality where little appears to exist. It was after an exhausting exercise sponsored by the Brothers. 'Brett' part of a keen and enthusiastic group, was downing his third 'tinnie' supplied gratis by the facilitators and remarked apropos of nothing in particular: 'Edward Rice was an O.K. sort of a bloke!' Brother 'Cyril' passing by, heard the comment and enthused to others long and hard: 'Isn't it tremendous ... Bloody terrific ... the depth of spirituality in these kids is something amazing ... we just need to liberate it !'

(3) In the third case and within the last two months, the author was visiting the National Capital on business and staying at the Brothers residence, part of St Edmund's College, Canberra. There is a new (Diocesan) Religious Order, the 'Missionaries of God's Love', founded by Fr Ken Barker (past student, St Patrick's, Goulburn) in the city. While in Canberra they were having a resident weekend for possible aspirants, 10?12 young men were involved, four staying overnight in spare rooms at the Brothers residence. There appeared to be a solid weekend; (no sense of many 'jars' being downed) ? the four staying with the Brothers were there only from around 10 p.m. at night until 7 a.m. next morning when they left for morning prayer and eucharist at their own centre in their Congregation's neighbouring parish. The 'Missionaries' have aspirants in Canberra, at the seminary in Melbourne and manage to ordain one or two men every year or so.

(4) The fourth was an Australian Province Leader's report for the year,1997. On the last page he summarised the state of his province: 'The dominant impression I have of the Province is of a group of dedicated men who are really hard workers in the cause of Christ. What as a group we don't do well is give priority to the spiritual quest, the search for God. I accept that we are in an 'in-between' period in religious life, with the former monastic elements ... well and truly at a discount, and the age when we are secure in a new identity and practice has not yet arrived. The search for the new age is the major agenda that demands our energy, but day-by-day, practically all Brothers in the Province feel the urgency of the immediate demands. The quest for God is put off to a 'tomorrow' that never seems to come. The good will is there. The question remains: "How to focus on the one thing necessary ?"

(5) The fifth was suggestion to me by two older Brothers in different parts of the world. When the great child migration/abuse crisis confronted the Congregation during the 1990s, they noticed, that there was no call from the Congregation Leadership at any level, for a crusade of prayer for divine assistance at this traumatic time in the Order's history. At other times of exceptional crisis, in the 1870s, during the struggle with the Irish bishops and in the 1930s at the time of the investigation by Father Hannon it was different.

The Secularisation Process in the Congregation

The stages over the last thirty years or so might be expressed in this way:

1 Vatican II a gale of fresh air swept through the institutional church but large numbers of men (and women) left their Congregations; in response, there became an emphasis keeping the numbers no matter what

2 In a time of rapid change and against falling numbers and few vocations, CLT/PLTs do not press the point over Brothers practice of the basic prayer and liturgical life

3 The sexual revolution and the emphasis on personal responsibility mean that a number of Brothers become involved (legally) in relationships contrary to their vows. When these things come to light the problem is looked at compassionately. (The undercurrent of sexual molestation of minors runs at about the same rate as for many years)

4 In bigger schools the principal's position is separated from that of the local Community Leader; and 'in appointments to the former role there is no emphasis on the Brothers (or others) attention to his religious duties

5 With the emphasis on keeping the numbers there is a tendency to encourage (even bribe) men to remain; positions of responsibility in house as well as school may bear no relationship to religious practice

6 Meanwhile, Chapters have tended to reduce markedly the times of community prayer and classic religious exercises; 'personal responsibilty' sometimes reduces these times of prayer personal and community to zero

7 With dwindling numbers of priests it is increasingly difficult for many Brothers engaged in active ministry in get to their daily eucharist. Over time, a few find it increasingly difficult to make Sunday liturgy

8 With the 'personal responsibility' principle in the ascendant, Superiors find it difficult to do anything effective to change the situation; the issues of community responsibility, group witness and scandal are at a discount or not as important as they were.

9 Over time, theory moves to endorse practice: the religious side of a Brother's religious life is declared his own personal responsibility period.

10 The Rules and Constitutions of the Congregation already pitched in idealistic terms and at a high level of generality are increasingly anachronisitic as against actual practice in many cases.

11 While there has been extraordinary change in some areas of human experience, human nature has not changed and there are still only 24 hours in the day.

If it's not centred on Christ; if it's not spiritually-based; if it's essentially social work; if it's only 'doing a bit for the neighbour'; it's not Edmund Rice whatever else it is. Often Edmund Rice might find himself saying, in the words of Christ himself: 'This people follows me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.'

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' ... very earthy considerations and ambitions can creep into the lives of men who had set out with the highest ideals.' (Morrissey, T, As one sent: Peter Kenny, S.J, 1779?1841, Four Courts Press, Dublin, 1996, p 352)

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Changes in lifestyle, ministry community prayer, the abuse controversy and the secularisation process have led to. division, irrelevance and bitterness among some members of the Congregation. Tony Hempenstall, a prophetic figure in St Francis Xavier Province, has observed three basic lifestyles among the hundred or so Brothers in his Queensland/NT province. The three strands painted with a rather broad brush are:6

1. First Group: They believe faithfully in the traditional or semi-traditional religious life proclaimed by the institutional church; they stress loyalty to Holy Father, to Rome. They live. chastity, poverty and obedience in traditional male communities They focus on the Prayer of the Church and daily Eucharist. They tend to minister in traditional ways to youth and the needy.They look to the Constitutions for guidance Many not all are old, semi-retired or in care. My guess is that broadly, one-half to two-thirds of all the Brothers in the province are in this group.

2 Second Group They are lost in the new era: some lead a solitary life; they don't meet any more with other Brothers for fun, recreation, prayer, reflection or sharing ... they maybe present at meals or not; no prayer any more ... immersed in work ... little meaning in their lives as a religious any more ... they remain since there seems nowhere else to be ... the energy that once drew them to the Congregation has disappeared. Communities where these men are prominent ressemble Boarding houses.'

3 Third Group Tony places himself fair and square in this group. They no longer look to Rome or the Institutional Church, the Constitutions, or the Evangelical Counsels as the solid foundations for their religious living. They have moved from traditional ways of living religious life; they are in non-traditional ministries; they follow a different cosmology ... a different theology. They no longer see the Church as the centre of life but they embrace the Universal Story in its mysterious unfolding as the basis for meaning and life. The Four Directions of the Universe and of the Congregation are their guidance for living the call. They no longer seek the Divine in the traditional forms of prayer and liturgy. Vatican pronouncements no longer point to the meaning of life for them. They may live with other Brothers who share a similar world-view ... or in a mixed community of men and women; brother or non-Brother. They believe in community in a broad sense. Inclusivity is a key value; the environment a key focus. These Brothers engage in the ecological, social and environmental debates of today. They are into religious living but not traditional religious life.7

Charism and Conversion

In responding to God's call at any level, the Christian attempts to respond to the life of Christ. In assisting this task the Spirit may give him a charism a spiritual gift linked to his natural inclinations to be a focus for the Christian community of some aspect of Christ's presence to the world. It is a new moment in the life of the Church.

After the charism receives institutional definition, it requires to be studied afresh in every age; otherwise it remains encapsulated in the century and personal history of its first possessor. Thus the Christian Brothers, at the dawn of a new century, faced with the challenge of decline on some levels and an accelerating pace of change and transformation, must try to rediscover in their Founder's historical milieu and psychological development the prophetic insight that was his. The key phrases in this sentence are 'historical milieu' and 'psychological insight'. These we must probe to identify the charism of Edmund Rice.

Charism in the sense we are discussing is a special grace; conversion in the sense we must consider is a special experience. Neither 'conversion' nor 'charism' are experienced by most Christians.

Moreover, conversion and charism are religious experiences; they concern relationships with God. We must be close to Christ before we can do the truth. Whenever 'conversion' or 'charism' are explained in terms which downplay, minimise or encourage misunderstanding of this basic reality, then the explanations are misleading ? i.e. they lead the wrong way. This is the problem with the explanation of Edmund's charism as: 'He heard the cry of the poor' which presumes or appears to presume that the 'cry' was only or mainly for the necessaries of life or for social mobility and to respond accordingly.

Whereas, if Edmund heard anyone's 'cry' it was for Christ, salvation, a particular style of education religious education. The trouble with the term 'heard the cry of the poor' is that it readily takes on secular-sounding connotations, and has taken on secular understandings. The term can be interpreted with a spiritual emphasis; and some do so; regrettably not all. This is the point of the article: the charism of Edmund Rice was spiritual and must be expressed in an unambiguously spiritual way. Many discussions of charism are discussed only at a high level of generality, heavy on superlatives; low on specifics.

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At the dawn of the millennium, things haven't been going well for the Communist parties of Western Europe and a meeting of communist party intellectuals recently assembled in Bologna, in Italy's traditional Red centre, to discuss the party's heritage in the context of its shrinking appeal to the Western European masses. When they looked at the heritage left by the early communist giants Frederick Engels, Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin and Leonid Trotsky they asked themselves among many sub committees, focus groups and sympathetic sharing what had been the core of the message, the charism, of the early communist movement and their answer: 'Marx, Engels, Lenin they heard the cry of the poor

La Stampa, Milano, 24 March 2000, p7

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The Conversion experience of Edmund Rice

A conversion is a turning away from, and a turning to something; a turning from one set of values to a different set of values, from one way of living and from one set of motives to another way of living and a new cluster of motives. It means a revaluing of goods because of changed purposes. It results in changed modes of behaving because purposes are now different. Different opportunities are now sought because different ends have to be satisfied. New modes of thinking, planning and praying change moods and outlooks and lead to a new appreciation of the worth of people. It is the beginning of an exploration of a new country. It means new maps, so often embracing a whole new world.

In the case of Edmund Rice, it was to become clear that his change of view embraced the transforming to Christ of the world he knew through the conversion of its youth. At one stage, Edmund's life was bounded by the arc of territory encompassed by Waterford, Dungarvan and Kilkenny. It gradually extended to Newfoundland, Gibraltar and England. As the salvation of souls became his major interest he saw the Lord's harvest field covering the whole world. Prophetic imagination ? Yes ! Pascal courage ? Sure ! In his own lifetime he was to see his Brothers at the earth's furthest limits and to have requests from bishops for his Brothers services beyond his power to satisfy them.

However, this is to anticipate. In the case of some Christian leaders who experienced conversion, the event was striking and the results traumatic and immediate the 'Road to Damascus' syndrome. In others, experience a process of conversion takes place over a considerable period of time. Edmund's was of the latter type a slow process of change in life style. Of course, conversion in this sense involves not a change of life style from bad to good, but from a good life to a better one. It involves accepting the call similar to that offered to 'the rich young man' in the Gospel: 'If you will be perfect ...' Edmund was a rich young man, and he heard the call to seek the way of perfection.

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A youngish Cistercian monk once told me his own conversion experience not that he had been living a vicious or debauched life style just your ordinary young Catholic twenty-something out for a good time. He arrived home after a party one night and for no particular reason, before bed, picked up a copy of the New Testament and began to read ... and time passed ... and an hour or so later, he broke into crying, releasing some hidden emotion. In the weeks following he quit his job, disappeared from 'Brisbane' and went backpacking in remoter areas of the state but sometimes praying in small country churches and going to daily Mass when possible. At a stage after some months, a priest whom he met suggested that he try the Cistercian way-of-life ... which in due course, he did.

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Edmund Rice's conversion process commenced with the tragic death of his wife in January 1789. Nevertheless, between that event and the establishment of his first school in the New Street stable once owned by his late wife's family, the Elliott's, thirteen years elapsed. This is a considerable period of time during which we know little of Edmund's life.

In the wake of the premature death of his wife and with a mentally-retarded daughter for whom to provide, Edmund was faced with one of two options to pursue: the first was to remarry after a decent interval, meanwhile devoting himself to his flourishing business and the social round with his extensive circle of friends. He was still in his mid-twenties, wealthy and 'a most eligible widower'. He could expect a handsome match.

On the European scene, it was a time of revolutionary violence and war; Edmund could have been entirely absorbed in his business affairs. In fact, he made trip to Newfoundland to study the fishing scene and as a result of his visit commenced importing 'Lander' cod as an inexpensive protein source for the poor.

Meanwhile, Edmund's mind was turning increasingly to things spiritual a conversion process which was to lead to his educational ministry. The detailed evidence to chart this progress has not survived. What has survived are a series of striking epiphanies or moments of spiritual insight, important in his spiritual growth and significant in that they were remembered and recorded while so many other events were ignored. These were major epiphanies for Edmund Rice in his spiritual growth:

the establishment of the Presentation sisters by Nano Nagle in (1775) and the founding of their first school in Waterford in 1798;

the experience of sharing the same room in an inn one night with a Franciscan friar who spent much of the night in prayer;

the entry of two of Edmund's relatives into the Presentation congregation, Miss Ellen Power and his widowed sister-in-law, Mrs Margaret Power;

on indicating to his stepsister and housekeeper, Joan Murphy, his intention to enter the Augustinian Order in Rome, she suggested he remain in Ireland and use his talents in educating poor Irish boys;

Edmund's friendship with the wandering poet, Tadhg Gaelach O'Sullivan. As the euphemism of the time had it, the poet was a man of 'irregular habits' but changed his mode of life during his association with Edmund Rice;

the advice of a Quaker businessman friend: 'Mr Rice, give your money in handfuls to the poor!'

Although Edmund had lived the life of a devoted Catholic layman, there is considerable evidence that by 1790 a year after his wife's death he had reorganised his life around the time-honoured format of the religious life: he attended Mass daily, he read the Divine Office, and he spent some time in spiritual reading and works of charity.

In the same year, Edmund and some other young men in Waterford, in association with three priests (former Jesuits) who staffed St Patrick's Chapel, had revived the Sodality of Our Lady in Waterford. It is likely that Edmund's reorganisation of life around liturgy, Divine Office, spiritual reading and active charity was associated closely with the revival of the Sodality of which he was the first president.

Within four year of his bereavement, Edmund had decided on the basic thrust of his vocation. This is clear from the testimony of the Congregation's most important document 'An Account of the Origin, Rise and Progress of the Institute of Religious Brothers' the first paragraph of which reads:

In the year 1793, Mr Edmund Rice of the City of Waterford formed the design of erecting an Establishment for the gratuitous Education of poor boys. In the following year, he communicated his intention on this subject to some friends, and particularly to the Right Reverend Dr James Lanigan, Roman Catholic Bishop of Ossory, who strongly recommended to him to carry out his intention into effect and assured him that in his opinion it proceeded from God. From that time forward Mr Rice did not lose sight of the object he had in view, though from various causes, he decided not to commence the building until the year 1802.

Edmund's delay in pursuing his ministry lasted almost ten years. Why he delayed so long is simply not revealed definitively in the primary sources. My view, based on circumstantial evidence, is that with the United Kingdom locked in war with revolutionary France Edmund Rice, a military-naval contractor, was locked into contracts difficult to terminate.

Waterford was a garrison town. (It is interesting that the front gate of the one of the main barracks in the city faced directly into one of the gates of the later Mt Sion monastery, school and enclosure) Edmund was in the wholesale and retail food business; his affairs were wide-ranging and one aspect was supplying British military establishments in the southern third of the country. The war was ended by the Treaty of Amiens, 1802 and Edmund Rice was free to sell his business and implement his religious dream which had been maturing for ten years.

There was also the issue of proselytism, the recurring threat to the faith of Catholic youth by well-funded, state-encouraged Protestant proselytising societies. In the 1980s, the author believed that this was the issue which galvanised Edmund into action in 1802. The evidence from Brother Gerard Kilmartin's notebooks reinforced my own view, as in one relevant place Gerard has written the word 'proselytism' in large letters and underlined it. However, before this evidence is presented some serious reflections on Edmund Rice's charism.

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These are basic dates to locate this exploration in real events:

1802 (a) Edmund Rice forms a pious society in Waterford;

(b) Work commences on the erection of a community residence and a school;

1803 (a) The Society occupies the new Mount Sion residence;

(b) The members are already living according to a modified form of the Presentation Rule.

1804 A school is opened at Mount Sion, the first school building erected for the purposes of the Society.

1808 Some members of the Society take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience for one year.

1809 (a) The Holy See issues a letter of praise of the Society to the Bishop of Waterford;

(b) Some members take perpetual vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.

(c) The Society is now a religious institute of diocesan right.

1820 Pope Pius VII offers the Society a brief.

1822 The majority of the members, in accepting the brief, become a religious society of pontifical right.8

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Charism, a Spiritual Understanding

The most casual reader of Austin Dunphy's manuscript (c. 1829) 'An account of the origin, rise and progress of the Institute of the Society of Religious Brothers' could not fail to observe the strong spiritual motivation and understandings of the early Brothers, which underpinned their ministry.

'About this time (1802) he (Edmund Rice) had an opportunity of seeing the good effects of the Moral and Religious Education of the poor, in the conduct of the female children, who were instructed by the Presentation nuns;

'About this time (1802), he (Edmund) was joined by two other young men ... Their motives in thus associating together were, in the first place, to withdraw from the dangers of a sinful world; and in the next place, to sanctify themselves by frequenting the Holy Sacraments, by prayer, pious reading, self-examination, retirement, and works of mercy, especially that of instructing poor, ignorant boys in the principles of Religion and Christian piety.

'(1804) They (the first four Brothers) commenced their labours among these poor creatures, by endeavouring to impress on their tender minds the important truths of salvation. The good effects of their instructions soon became visible in the conduct and manners of many of the poor children.

'At the beginning of the year 1808, ... they (the nine members) began to think of making vows for twelve months, with an intention of renewing them every year till the approbation of the Institute would be obtained from the Holy See ... They now seriously began to prepare themselves for this awful act. The 15th day of August was appointed. The eight days previous to it were spent in Retreat.9

The religious motivation of Edmund Rice and the early Brothers is evident. It is significant that the monastery was occupied first. The adjective 'awful' in reference to religious consecration and the considerable space given in the whole of 'Origin' to the texts of the several (developing) vow formulas and the accompanying ceremonial, point to a very high esteem for the vowed life.

Meditation on Charism

The material in this section is taken verbatim from Brother Gerard's handwritten notes. When we seek to define the charism of Edmund Rice of Edmund Rice there are questions to be asked and answered. Who is given a charism ? How does s/he know or discover its presence? Does the Christian pursue a charism ? Is it an outlook ? a sense of purpose committed to him or required of him by God?

On the other hand, does a Spiritual Director discover its presence in his subject and direct his attention to it? Or perhaps a number of people direct his attention to a duty of a good work that requires to be done by someone or that seems particularly to be required of a particular individual. That person may not be aware fully of the nature of a charism or a calling that will seem determined of him either because of his nature, his skills, his gifts or his opportunities. People may sense qualities of virtue and character in an individual and in their minds believe him to be exceptionally suited to and probably called to the exercise of a management that removes an evil and encourages a good.

The discovery of charism can be made by others; it can be made by oneself in prayer, meditation, generous good works, or suggestions received that direct one's mind in a spiritual way and to a special task. If he accepts this work for himself it does not matter if some others do not agree at first. They may agree later when they see his understanding at work and producing its peculiar and useful results. Edmund was struck by the nature and power of prayer by listening to a fellow Franciscan wayfarer praying in the darkened room. It was an original discovery, an epiphany that produced in Edmund Rice a new attitude to prayer. He discovered that prayer was a personal colloquy with God. When this awareness was further developed, Edmund understood better the importance of prayer and the power of a fellow human being. He became aware of a relationship to God a responsibility to know, love and serve God by good work and by providing for some of the poor around him.

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The 'poor' was a term which was, and still is, relative. In contemporary Ireland, all below the level of landlords, wealthy tenant farmers and merchants were considered to be 'poor'. Shopkeepers, craftsmen, artisans, labourers and cottiers were referred to as the 'lower classes'. Below these were the abject poor. In (p. 112) Edmund Rice's schools the evidence of the early Registers show that there were children from all strata of society except the very rich. There is no information on how the Brothers selected pupils when too many applied: it seems to have been on a first-come, first-served, basis. Enrolments were taken every Monday morning. Application, Public Records Office: ED 1/28/18. Letter of Brother I. Kelly to T.T. Kelly, Officer of Education.(Kent, J.E. 'The Educational Ideas of Edmund Rice, Founder of the Presentation and Christian Brothers', M.Ed., University College Cork, 1988, p. 107)

If all this awareness is supplemented by the advice of others, the developing awareness of the needs of others, the growing sense of responsibility towards God in responding to these situations, then an awareness of God and his fellow men and the sacredness of their mutual relationship can develop. This is because people have been created, sustained, redeemed, provided with the sacraments as avenues to God and given the example of Jesus. People should be encouraged to realise the shortness of life and the reality of judgment. It is the charismatic person's co-operation with God in the salvation of the world. We can see this sequence of development of a charism applies in the case of Edmund Rice and the Christian Brothers.

The charism of Edmund Rice was to instruct ignorant boys and young men in the Catholic faith. It is true that the poorest youth could be the most ignorant spiritually, but not always and not necessarily. Edmund addressed the spiritual ignorance of Irish youth as his first priority and their material poverty in second place. Some of Edmund's modern disciples and not merely a few on the fringes of the large Edmund Rice family have, perhaps, unwittingly, reversed the priorities. This is a perversion of the charism. The constantly reiterated emphasis in modern discussion of Edmund 'hearing the cry of the poor' suggests that addressing the material poverty of the poor was his first priority. In Edmund's case it was second priority.

Charism - a Cosmic Dimension

Edmund Rice was called to restore the lost faith of a part of the God's people. As St Ignatius outlined it in his Spiritual Exercises, since the beginning of time from the Biblical revolt of some of the angels war has been waged to destroy the Kingdom of God, to corrupt the human race, to confuse and, if possible, destroy knowledge of God and His plan for His creation.10

The history of God's dealing with his chosen people in the Old Testament is the history of the corrupting efforts through some human beings, under the influence of the Evil One to destroy the Kingdom of God; and the counter efforts of prophets, heroes and saints to prevent this evil by building up the Kingdom and strengthening God's people.

However, these corrupt doctrines, the creation of self-sufficient persons primed by the Evil One persist. At times, they may seem conquered, but revive under a new name. The progress of evil resembles the progress of the tsunami. When there is an earth slip deep on the ocean floor, the water disturbed races as a giant tidal wave to the bounds of the ocean. With its towering crest it is fearsome, but to the gazer it seems to disappear under the surface. As it comes closer the tsunami rears its giant crest and races towards the shore and so destruction comes to seaside towns, fields and human life.

The tsunami is a symbol of the malign attempt of Satan and his followers to destroy God's plan for mankind's salvation. In this way proceeds the rebellion against faith in word and act, by individuals and nations, the spread of man-made religions, false doctrines all destructive of true religion. These false doctrines fight to displace the true in the church to downplay and remove the sacraments, to diminish the place of the eucharist in Catholic life and to preach different doctrines.

Edmund Rice, in his time and place (and among many founders of Religious Congregations) was called by God to be another prophet, hero and saint to arrest the spread of contemporary evil.

The charism of Edmund Rice arose from the strength of his personal spiritual life, a conversion experience which rendered his personality receptive to the call of God as it arose through local circumstances.

The local circumstances were critical in shaping the direction which the call to serve eventually took. The charism was refined by Edmund's experienced with the early volunteers who came to share in his work, a work only slowly defined and still experimental in its early years.

The Religious Threat to Catholic Youth

The environment to which Edmund responded was an Ireland groaning under colonial oppression in a European world torn by the French revolutionary wars. In the Waterford of 1802 indeed in the whole of contemporary Ireland the vast majority of Catholics were desperately poor, politically and socially marginalised by a Protestant ruling class.

The question remains: what galvanised Edmund into action at the time he moved to establish his first school. We need to bear in mind that this move came thirteen years after his wife's untimely death, and almost ten years after his conversion and determination to do something special for God by a ministry among the Irish poor.

The key concepts in understanding why Edmund took decisive action at this time are 'need', 'opportunity', 'inspiration' and 'example'. The need was provided by the renewed assault of Protestant proselytizers on the faith of the Irish young; the opportunity was provided by the Act of Union (1801), the ending of the (first phase) of revolutionary war with France (1802). It was anticipated that Catholic Emancipation would follow in due course.

The inspiration arose from a number of factors: there was the direct confrontation of the proselytisers by Bishop Hussey of Waterford and Lismore in a Pastoral letter, which unleashed a firestorm of controversy in the diocese. Hussey was forced into exile for five years until the tumult subsided. There was the example close to hand of the work of the Presentation Sisters and their schools for young girls. Two of Edmund Rice's relatives were among the Waterford community of the Presentation Sisters and he, himself, had played a crucial role in making the financial arrangements which enable them to minister securely in the city.

Edmund Rice's mission to instruct the spiritually ignorant was directed against Protestant proselytising schools. The Brothers first schools in Waterford, Dungarvan, Ennis and Ennistymon were placed to confront existing Protestant Bible schools.

In fact, attempts to proselytise Irish youth for essentially political reasons had existed for a long time. After the Treaty of Limerick (1691) was dishonoured, the English government realised that Ireland would never be truly incorporated into Britain until its Gaelic language was replaced by English and the old faith changed to that of the established Anglican church. Thereafter, enthusiasm for active measures sponsored directly or indirectly by government to change the faith of the bulk of the Irish population, waxed and waned. Edmund faced one such crisis.

Proselytising Schools in Waterford

One of the longest lasting of the Bible schools was the Bishop Foy School, Waterford. In the early 1700s. Bishop Foy (Anglican, Waterford) 'noted for his obsessive antipathy towards the Catholic church' arranged an endowment of 500 to establish a school to wean poor Catholic children from the old faith.11 The school aimed to educate the Catholic poor in the Anglican faith and to maintain their new stance by apprenticing them to Protestant masters. Many Catholic families desperate to gain some education for their children took the opportunities offered. One of the historians of the Bishop Foy school noted:12

In the present year, 1745, there has been bound out to trades, 110 boys, to each of whom are given a Bible, a Common-prayer-book, and a Whole Duty of Man. By prudent and careful management of this school, the foundation has already produced many eminent tradesmen.

Children were admitted to the Bishop Foy School from the ages of four to six years and in 1788, there were 75 children in the establishment. It was situated at the lower end of Broad Street, and the corner of Arundel Street, Waterford. There was a period from 1790, when Edmund Rice lived next door to this establishment.13 It is difficult to imagine that he was not influenced by this fact, bearing mind the charged atmosphere on religious affairs in contemporary Ireland. At the end of the Roman part of the tertianship, the author made his first visit to Waterford and wandered the cold, wet, windswepped streets and found the place where the ruins of the Bishop Foy school. Actually the place had been used as a school until the 1960s and when viewed many years later, it was unoccupied and in decay, but had been an imposing building two hundred years previously.

In penal times, the Catholics of Waterford had attempted with some success to blunt the attractions of the Bishop Foy School by establishing a Catholic free school nearby, and in due course and generations later, Edmund Rice was drawn into the management of the Catholic Free School.14 Charles Smith, the chronicler of Waterford, wrote:

To frustrate the design (of Bishop Foy), a popish school supported by subscriptions was erected; which gave the same encouragement to teaching children gratis: to read, write and cast accounts; and this project had the intended effect because the number of boys decreased daily at the Bishop's school, and for many years together three score could not be had; while the popish school had its full complement of four-score boys.15

It is not clear to what extent this Catholic alternative to the Bishop Foy School lasted continuously during the eighteenth century. However, in 1782, a wealthy Waterford-born, Catholic merchant named Thomas Valois, died in Spain. In his will he bequeathed money to establish a fund for the education of thirty-three poor boys, and in 1790, Dean T Hearn, parish priest of the 'Big Chapel', Waterford, was able to organise a subscription to add to the Valois bequest to provide a charity school for the Catholic poor. A building was acquired close to St Patrick's chapel and Edmund's business premises. The thirty-three boys were enrolled under lay management. In 1815, Edmund became 'Patron' responsible for running the affairs of the 'Valois school' as it became known, and three years later, in 1818, the school became 'St Patrick's' managed by the Christian Brothers.16

The Bishop Foy School was not the only Protestant Bible school in Waterford. There were two others: the Charter school at Killortran just outside the city, catering for 50-60 boys and girls; and the Blue Coat school for girls. The Charter school was one of a chain of 61 schools, managed by the Incorporated Society for Promoting English Protestant Schools in Ireland 'to convert the lower orders of the inhabitants of Ireland from the errors of Popery'. Their management over many years was riddled with corruption and incompetence and they made few permanent converts, but they were an object of almost pathological hostility to Catholics, who resented their objectives.

In the 1790s, political passions were running high in Ireland. The 1798 rebellion of the United Irishmen was in the offing. In Europe, Britain was engaged in a long war with revolutionary France, and French landings in Ireland were feared. Thousands of young Irishmen were being drafted into the British navy and army with no provision made for their religious rights

In 1797, Bishop Hussey (Waterford) confronted the Bible schools in his diocese in a Pastoral Letter, denouncing them in the strongest language. Many of other bishops were appalled by its imprudence. They had been neither consulted on the pastoral nor forewarned of its coming. Their horror was moderate, however, compared with the anger of the Irish administration. Bishop Hussey was forced into exile for five years. On his return, he gave Edmund financial and moral support during the last years of his life to place the Mount Sion foundation on a firm foundation.

It is reasonable to suggest that Hussey's confrontation with the Irish administration over its continued support for the Charter and other Bible schools was a major factor encouraging Edmund Rice to formalise his plans for a new religious initiative in Catholic education.17

The point is reinforced that Edmund's vision and charism requires to be expressed in unambiguously religious terms; because the charism was religious first and foremost. One possible statement might be: 'Bringing Christ to Youth through Education' where 'education' is understood in a broad way.

All of this is intended to stress that Edmund's objective was not merely to provide education where there was none; it was to provide a special type of education. No pupil studied a broad range of subjects, but whatever subjects he studied, religious formation came first. Edmund wrote to the Archbishop of Cashel in 1810, 'The half-hour's explanation of the Catechism I hold to be the most salutary part of the system. It's the most laborious to the teachers; however, if it was ten times what it is, I must own we are amply paid in seeing such a Reformation in the children.'18

Revisiting the Charism

Charism is a gift of the Holy Spirit ? sometimes a personal gift, but usually for others. The classic passage where charism is given expression is in Paul first letter to the Corinthians.

About the gifts of the Spirit, brothers, I want you to be quite certain ... There are many different gifts, but it is always the same Spirit; ... There are many different forms of activity, but in everybody it is the same God who is at work in them all. The particular manifestation of the Spirit granted to each one is to be used for the general good. To one is given from the Spirit, the gift of utterance expressing knowledge, in accordance with the same Spirit; to another, faith, from the same Spirit; and to another, the gifts of healing, through this one Spirit; to another, the working of miracles; to another, prophecy; to another, the power of distinguishing spirits; to one, the gift of different tongues, and to another, the interpretation of tongues. However, at work in all these is one and the same Spirit, distributing them at will to each individual. (1 Corinthians 5: 1?11)

In the context of this and reflections from other Pauline epistles, the following points can be made to clarify the term.

the origin of every charism is the Holy Spirit;

its impetus is distinguished from the action of the Holy Spirit in the sacraments and from the ordinary ministry of the Church's priests and lay workers;

charism is a special grace, given to anyone of the faithful as an enabling gift for a specific ministry within the people of God;

its purpose is the renewal and development of the people of God;

the authenticity of the charism is to be tested and judged by the hierarchy of the church.

'Most wouldn't get a job'

Some years ago, I was travelling in Australia away from my base in Melbourne and had a weekend at a Brothers community, a common experience we have all shared. On Saturday around lunchtime, all the seven members of the community drifted in to the kitchen for an alfresco bite, but things were better than sometimes at such moments: the Superior/Headmaster was 'in good form', a couple of bottles of 'Cold Duck' emerged from the cellar, the leftovers in the fridge were more appetising than usual. Over and hour or so there was animated conversation ? 'solving the problems of the world.'

It came to washing the dishes, men drifted off to their afternoon activities, the writer was left yarning with the headmaster and commented: 'You're a lucky man in these difficult times, still six monks involved in the school', and his reply was unexpected especially in view of the cheery bonhomie of the lunch 'Barry, you're being charitable. Most of these men wouldn't have a job on the staff unless they were monks. I can hire young people in their twenties, well-trained, keen and enthusiastic, young people in touch with the modern kids and the modern scene' ... and so on.

He mentioned how the Brothers-on-staff are always whingeing about the school discipline (or lack thereof), the endless meetings, the sense that the kids are different these days. They could be a real nuisance.

However, he did not mention one important thing, granted that many monks still on school staff do tend to moan about the huge lay staffs, the lax/changed discipline, the vapid meetings, the sense of 'do-anything but teach 'em curriculum' (as they see things in light of the past). He did not mention that if the Brothers are living their Religious lives and are instinctive leaders on things religious in the school, they are making a fine contribution, granted that on other things some do not resonate well with the modern college ... and some had modest ability and indifferent training. If they are living the charism with a stress on its religious dimension they are giving something which the lay teachers cannot give, even those who are basically active Catholics, and maybe only a minority are. In many lay staffs in many of our schools probably only a minority are active Catholics.

The Institutional Church and the Charism

In his provocative article to which reference has been made, Tony Hempenstall stressed that he and his circle of Brothers no longer look to Rome or the Institutional Church, the Constitutions, or the Evangelical Counsels as the solid foundations for their religious living. They have moved from traditional ways of living religious life.

There was a genuine sincerity flowing through the whole article.19

However it was from Rome in the person of Pope Pius VII that Edmund Rice obtained the Church's approval of the Brothers way-of-life as a Papal Congregation, Institutum et Regulae, 5 September 1820. It is from the Church's approval of our Constitutions that we continue to function.

In Inheritance, Collection Two, among papers prepared for the Christian Brothers International Spirituality Conference, 1982, there is mention that when the first Brothers received The Brief they knelt to hear it read. The editor, Regis Hickey, commented: 'Respect for the Holy See and its authority, a constant tradition in the Congregation, was expressed by the early Brothers in the way they received the Brief.'

We are within a teaching Church which traces its lineage to apostolic times and direct appointment from Jesus Christ. We accept that Jesus appointed Peter as leader of his followers and that the successive Popes, with all their human strengths, limitations and frailties have a direct continuity with the primitive church. Christ said to Peter: 'You are Peter and on this rock ...'; not (later) 'You are Teilhard de Chardin and on these insights ...'; or to anyone else. Loyalty to the Holy See has been a constant theme in successive Chapters down the ages. If we don't walk with the Holy See, it's hard to see how we walk with Christ.

The Charism and the Family

Many, perhaps most religious congregations, have developed 'families' among (young) men and women who in some sense wish to share the ministry of the congregation (in a large or small way) while pursuing their usual lives. At a time in the Western world when many religious congregations are shrinking in numbers, the family provides an opportunity to extend the work of the order in a satisfying way for all concerned.

In fact, for centuries some older congregations have developed THIRD ORDERS which fulfilled these roles, although THIRD ORDERS often made, and make serious demands on their members in terms of selection, commitment, training, re-selection and induction.

Modern religious families including the Edmund Rice Family make few, if any demands on their members in terms of commitment, training and selection. The young person associates him/herself with the (say) Edmund Rice Camp and that's it. These casual arrangements suit the fast ebb and flow of modern life, but the reality of little commitment, permanence or training, is worth mentioning.

Within the ERF, it is worth stressing the obvious, in case the obvious goes by default that the vowed life of the Brothers is special. Their consecrated life is not on the same level as (quote) 'giving some little shits a holiday' (unquote) one view of the Edmund Rice Camps.20 Of course, that was a throwaway ERC line, but you see what the writer means.

There appears to be sometimes a flow of regular CLT/PLT rhetoric which appears to imply that the ERF members ?- no matter how casual and fleeting their relationship with the 'family' are on the same plane with the vowed membership and should be represented formally on Chapters (!!!) When you think about it, this has a nonsense side.21

The religious life ? the vowed, consecrated life ? makes five serious demands on weak human nature which church-going lay Catholics do not embrace:22 i.e. the ERF family members do not embrace, even if they are active Catholics, which may are not.

poverty, i.e. a certain simplicity of life, even in the midst of wealth or abundance, whether the Congregation is (collectively) wealthy or not;

chastity, involving celibacy;

obedience to a Community/PLT/CLT leader, within the rules of each particular Congregation;

community life with same-sex adults of varied ages and backgrounds, whose company was not chosen;

a life of prayer and devotion to God more demanding than almost all lay people embrace, or have the opportunity to undertake.

Within the family, the ERF, the consecrated members do have a special place. However, apart from the vowed members, there appear to be three basic categories of members of the family:

(We do not have the degree of selection, training and time-commitment similar to that of membership of a Third Order.)

1 those who consciously want to be ERF members, who join a group called (say) 'The Friends of Edmund' or the Edmund Rice Camps organisation, or form an Edmund Rice community in a house rented for them by the Congregation and meet regularly for prayer, discussion, service and social life in an Edmund Rice/Christian Brothers context.

'Rex Cassidy' has always been an active Catholic and in secondary school he heard of the Edmund Rice Camps, attended one and enjoyed the experience. Since that time he has attended many more camps and assisted with their organisation, fundraising and social life. When the opportunity came for a leadership weekend to focus on the 'Edmund Rice thing', Rex jumped at the chance to go. In spite of some ribbing from from his friends he even attends Mass during weekend Edmund Rice Camps. After university, he works as a teacher in a Catholic school.

'Bev Clayton' is now in her sixties but for many years she worked for the Christian Brothers as a secretary in a number of schools, and finished with a stint at the Province Centre. She knows the Brothers well 'warts and all' and has enjoyed working for them.23 In retirement she keeps in touch, has joined the 'Friends of Edmund', attends daily Mass, prays regularly and never misses a social function organised by the 'Friends'.

2 those who have a more casual but chosen membership of the family, e.g. s/he attends an Edmund Rice camp regularly; or a Brothers school staff member who willingly attends a course to learn more of Edmund Rice and his charism;

'John Traynor' was invited by a mate to attend an Edmund Rice Camp 'the kids are a pain, but there's some great chicks on the staff', his friend stressed. 'John' went along and enjoyed everything about the camp sure the kids were feral but we outnumbered them and they weren't as much a nuisance as he was led to believe, the ladies were great, and in fact, two of the old Christian Brothers who helped with the driving didn't seem to be like the pervs you read about in the newspaper. John went to a number of camps; sure he never went to church, but few mentioned religion on the camps; sure his morals were a bit footloose, but no one turned a hair. That Edmund Rice geyser whose photo was on the wall seems to have been a good bloke ! John was happy to be part of the ERF.

3 those who are simply classed as in the ERF without knowledge or effort on their parts: parents and families of boys who attend a Brothers school; such boys themselves; staff members who have no knowledge of, or desire to acquire interest in the ERF. These are members by courtesy, or members in the imagination of the Brothers themselves.

Any attempt to place such members as in the same way connected to the Edmund Rice charism in the way of the vowed members is farcical.

Even in the Missions

The Brothers who labour at the ends of the earth in remote and sparse mission stations are close to the heart of Edmund Rice. They make the four classic sacrifices, the four 'Fs', of the missionary: family, friends, 'Foster's' and football.

It is worth making the point however, that even in the missions amid such hard work and obvious sacrifice a secularised version of the charism could grow and flourish. There are other workers: United Nations staff, the US Peace Corps, Australian Volunteers Abroad, 'Doctors without Borders' and many other organisations which also do great work for the poorest at the margins of the earth's people.

These essentially secular heroes (in most cases) may be great people, well-trained, very competent and have the advantage that they are often backed by government organisations which gives them access and resources that private organistions do not possess.

They are not religious, however. They don't usually claim to be. They do not see their roles as bringing people to Christ at any stage of their endeavour.

Their very attractiveness could prove seductive in more ways than one for some Brothers unless the Brothers keep their distinctive role clearly in mind.

Conclusion

The entire focus in Paul and in explorations of the Pauline statement on charism is religious. In the case of Edmund Rice, his peak conversion experience was the death of his wife. In his loss he found a deeper dimension to life; a deeper religious understanding. However, is all this a matter of semantics to Edmund Rice's disciples, in the Western World, middle-aged and older men without many aspirants to follow Edmund's call.24

Brother Gerard Kilmartin's papers, given to one of his former students as his mind succumbed to the ravages of old age, suggest that the constant reiteration of the Institute's charism as being 'to hear the cry of the poor' has led to an unfortunate emphasis, and a misunderstanding of what the Founder was about. His mission had a different priority ... and Congregation renewal must reflect this priority in its statement of charism.

Barry Coldrey

7/67 Collins Street

Thornbury Vic 3071

Australia

Tel: (03) 9480 - 2119

email: busherw@bigpond.com

Award Scheme, Australian Society of Authors

http://www.asauthors.org

Personal Website: http://www.oocities.com/brett_usher/index.html

Appendix 1: The One or Two Philosophy

The writer is aware that the secularisation of the charism has occurred against a background where faith seems to have diminished among the 'people of God' but side-by-side with this, there is a confident belief that 'everyone' saves his/her soul no matter how they live because God could not (really) send anyone (or hardly anyone) to hell. Life is there to be lived and enjoyed 'Carpe diem', as the poet said. Horace was a pagan (although quite a nice type of bloke).

When the writer was teaching twenty years ago one of the things which amused him was the 'One or Two' philosophy, i.e. despite obvious problems, 'everyone' was declared to be co-operating, 'except one or two'. It was very noticeable at staff meetings.

Many staff bewailed the state of discipline, especially in the middle school ... the headmaster assured everyone that he was sure the boys were really most co-operative ... Of course, there were always 'one-or-two' who were difficult ... !

A deputy headmaster mentioned that some staff were not organising the rubbish bins properly. The headmaster assured the meeting that he had a tremendous staff whose duty on the yard at recess was magnificent. Of course, there were, perhaps, 'one-or -two', who needed a reminder ... ! Staff smiled; they were all right. The 'one-or-two' referred elsewhere.

A parent had rung to say that (some) staff and senior lads (the latter still in uniform) were drinking in 'The Lion', near the college, on Thursday and Friday evenings after school. The headmaster told the meeting he was certain that the report was exaggerated. We had a magnificent staff. Of course, 'one-or-two' may have forgotten inadvertently to do the right thing. Staff smiled (again); they were all right. The 'one-or-two' referred to someone else.

... and so it went on, everything was rosy, but there was always 'one-or-two' who lowered the tone or needed a reminder, and the 'one-or-two' was someone else. Now, over time, his philosophy has moved to the more spiritual:

Quite recently, at early morning Sunday Eucharist at the parish church, a brilliant young Jesuit father gave the bleary congregation a magnificent and brief sermon on Hell. The gist was the everyone would save his or her soul, except 'one-or-two' whose lives were so evil that they had lost any power to love at all. Hence without any love whatsoever, they could not enter heaven.

It was a comforting philosophy ... all humanity is saved 'except one or two'. The 'one-or-two' could not refer to the small-time sinners in the Congregation at the eight o'clock Mass in the university chapel. No worries there. 'One-or-two' is always someone else.

This maybe correct. I hope it is. However, a reading of the Bible may not always give this impression !

Appendix 2: The Edmund Rice Family where to next ?

This is a perceptive article by Brother Peter Clinch of the PLT, St Patrick's Province, in a recent Province 'Green Guide'. The italicised comments are included by the writer (of the charism article)

Recently I was part of a discussion concerning the Edmund Rice Family National Gathering and writing a response to the CLT concerning the ERF and the Congregation Chapter. Both of these occasions raised central issues for me concerning the development of the ERF.

The ERF was named at the last General Chapter as one of the Four Directions . This naming helped articulate a reality that has been in existence for some years before the Chapter. It is now five years since the Chapter and the Four Directions have become part of our congregation story and language. While the growth of the Edmund Rice Family has been slow, the time has come to take the next step in its development.

Comment: the whole article is generalities; there is little or no specific reference to what the Edmund Rice Family does, The well-known Edmund Rice Camps are scarcely mentioned.

The initial fervour surrounding the ERF has nearly gone. The time has come and need in there to place some structure around the ERF to ensure its future growth. The energy that surrounded the Melbourne gatherings of the ERF and the Province's participation in the Brisbane ERF National Festival has nearly dissipated.

Comment: The Edmund Rice Camps have a twenty-year history. Why has the fervour dissipated ? Was there ever a spiritual side to the camps and the family ?

When one is talking with people about the development of the ERF, few answers, if any, seem to be definite. There are some trends that are becoming possible pointers for further development At this point the relationship between the ERF and the Christian Brothers is a central issue. The present discussion that the CLT is encouraging about the ERF and the Congregation Chapter is important in helping to identify the purpose and role of the ERF.

I am coming to see the ERF as an expression of the charism of Edmund Rice and this expression of the charism is different from the expression given to the charism by the Christian Brothers as men living the vows of religious life within the context of community living. The Edmund Rice Family is not a 'Third Order' or an association of the Christian Brothers. The ERF, needs, over time, to take on its own unique expression of the charism that embraces a lay spirituality.

Comment: 'Lay spirituality' sounds fine and has been applied to the Brothers as has the term 'male spirituality'. What do the terms which sound fine mean in practice ? 'Lay spirituality' may appear to equal 'no spirituality'.

The main connection between the Christian Brothers and the ERF is ministry that both share. Many ministries (institutions) belonging to the Congregation will not remain with the Christian Brothers into the future and a form of partnership needs to be developed. Presently we are witnessing a process of collaboration, partnership and a sharing of responsibility that will eventually see other groups inheriting many congregational institutions from the Brothers.

Comment: In what precise, actual, factual respects is the Edmund Rice Family engaged in ministry apart from the camps, which are well known ?

The ministry relationship between the Christian Brothers and the ERF is a fluid situation. Some of the people in leadership positions in CB institutions are active in the development of the Edmund Rice Family while employed by the Brothers. Once they change their employment their involvement with the ERF often ceases. Ministry is where many people experience the energy /attraction of Edmund's charism that draws them into further involvement.

Many people who agree to be part of the ERF see their belonging as one of association with the Christian Brothers and/or motivated by an appreciation of the charism by their involvement with an Edmund Rice ministry. They usually do not associate their connection to the ERF as being a lifetime commitment or taking on responsibility for the ongoing development of the ERF. If a structure supporting the ERF does eventuate it will be different from the structures that support the growth and life of a religious order like the Christian Brothers.

The development of the ERF is still at an early and fragile stage. I wonder if the ERF can exist without the presence and ongoing support of the Christian Brothers. The Brothers are presently the key stakeholders in any development of the Edmund Rice Family. They hold the authority for its development and continue to finance the paid employees of the ERF and sponsor the events that bring the ERF together. Without the unwavering support of, involvement in and encouragement of the ERF by the Christian Brothers, the movement known as the ERF will lose momentum and fade. As the Christian Brothers enter the process of preparing for chapters, the place and role of the Edmund Rice Family needs careful consideration.

While the Congregation has its own unique identity and will make decisions concerning the future, the Christian Brothers need the assistance of others to help them discern their future. A key group to assist the Christian Brothers in this discernment is the ERF.

The future of the Edmund Rice Family in Australia is at a stage that requires a shared vision. Foundational to this shared vision is the naming of key values associated with the ERF. Then the other key questions around identity, purpose and structure may have a context to be discussed.

The need to invite people to ERF gatherings and formation experiences is still the main way forward for the ERF. The healthy development of the Edmund Rice Family requires dialogue between the different and varied sub-groups that make up the ERF. Events, programs and processes that promote dialogue, reflection and discernment need to be a priority for the Christian Brothers as they prepare for their Province and Congregational Chapters.

Appendix 3: Comments on the Charism booklet

(a) Hello Barry'

Many thanks for the copy of your Charism booklet. It's a gem. I have

just been emailing X and told him of same and said that, if its

message is heeded, it could still save the Monks. So refreshing to have

such a clear analysis of our current situation and the unambiguous

presentation of what needs to be done. I entirely agree with you as

regards what the Founder was really on about and what religious life

ought to be as well as where the Monks are now. It has all seemed so

patently obvious to me for years but without your hard facts on the

Founder and his charism it is virtually impossible to make any dent in

the armour of prejudice worn by our high flying knights. Is that a mixed

metaphor?!

Thanks again, Barry, and God bless your efforts

(b) Barry,

Thanks for your email. I am wading through it at the moment. How are you enjoying flat living ?

(c) Barry,

I found your article extremely interesting. Of course, it is only one man's opinion ...

(d) Dear Barry,

Thanks for sending me "The Charism of Edmund Rice in a secularised age". I

found it very interesting and thought provoking. I will reread it for some

of my meditational material. Thankyou.

I noted with interest that you had quoted Tony Hemenstall's article "No

Longer Our Life" and you would have seen in the recent edition of "OUR LIFE"

that there were a few replies to the article.

If you are making more copies you may like to make a change on page 24

where you have "Tom Hempenstall" instead of Tony and in the footnotes at the

bottom of the page there is "Hempenstaff" instead of Hempenstall.

Thanks again for sending it to me. I will enjoy reading it again more slowly

for meditative purposes.

regards

(e) Dear Barry

Many thanks for forwarding the material on the Founder. Much appreciated.

May I take the opportunity to express my gratitude for the work you have done on The Scheme , and matters concerning our treatment of some youth in the past.

I guess it has not always been easy to examine the past and tell the truth about it. No doubt thre have been some who would rather shoot the messenger or remain in denial than face the truth.

Anyway, I, for one, admire your work.

(f) Dear Barry

Thanks for you're 'wee note', but more especially for the Spirituality of Edmund Rice. My thoughts exactly. Sadly the ship is being steered towards the rocks. What was your Ph D ....

(9) Dear Barry

Many thanks for the copy of 'The Charism of Edmund Rice in a Secularised

Age'. As you have touched on some issues of vital importance to the

Christian Brothers, I am sure that it will assist those who will gather

next year for the various chapters. I would have acknowledged it sooner;

but I have had very many calls on my time of late - a situation heightened

by the fact that I was away from home base (in Auckland) for the whole of

March reviewing a book I am writing.

Concerning the notion of charism, may I recommend to you chapters 9 and 10

of Sandra Schneiders's latest book, 'Finding the Treasure'. The first of

two volumes on 'religious life in a new millennium', it is an excellent

piece of writing.

(h) Dear Barry,

Your booklet on charism arrived today - thank you.

I've quickly skimmed and will take time to read it more closely.

I feel that Edmnund's charism has been truncated - made monochromatic.

I shall look forward to reading your insights.

God bless,

(i) Thanks, Barry. I've taken it off to read quietly for meditation sometime.

I received your mailing the other day also. Thanks very much.

(j) Dear Barry

'... 'The Charism of Edmund Rice' was very interesting too ... Barry, all the best and may the waters in our Congregation life run more smoothly than of late.

(k) (From a gentleman with "Arch" in his title) Dear Brother Coldrey,

Thank you for the book entitled 'The Charism...' I read it with interest and found it fascinating. Although you must surround yourself at times with controversy I think you are playing a very important role in raising issues that many religious today do not wish to examine very closely.

The issue of the apostolate and religious life itself needs to be re-examined as you have done in this booklet. It is often said that people like Edmund Rice and Catherine McCauley offered education to the poor because they were poor, whereas the truth is that they were poor because they were Catholics and were denied proper education precisely because they were Catholics, so that education in the faith became a priority rather than assistance for the marginalised, although the two became inseparable for a while.

The Stages of the Secularisation of the Congregation/Charism

Church criticised for liberalism and weakness. 'Correct erroneous developments in church life'; church has 'a strong organisational structure' and 'offers many social services to thepublic' 'none the less lacking in faith and inner strength'; ... More and more peopke have withdrawn from active participation in church life and now have an a la carte view of Catholicism; 'shallow and empty'; Church leaders must stress Catholic teaching; ... The contrary view or should one say emphasis is that it is necessary for the Church to respect people as they are in today's world, take their concerns seriously, and to react more flexibly. The Church needed to be more 'inviting and attractive'.

Private confession, reconciliation, dying off; people have 'a greater sense of self-worth'; good; but ... many practising Catholics do not agree with certain church teachings on certain moral issues, particularly those involving sex; ... flawed human being; ... come to terms with our humanity and our need for the Grace of God ... No pain; no gain; spiritual fitness

Fraternal Life in Community, Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, Rome, 1994.

(p 6) Religious communities conformed to the world; ...

Notes for Further Writing on the Founder

Normoyle, M C, A Companion to "A Tree is Planted", The Correspondence of Edmund Rice and his Assistants, 1810-1842, Rome, 1977.

ER to the Archbishop of Cashel, LR 1-2, 9 May 1810.

The half-hour's explanation of the Catechism I hold to be the most salutary part of the system. It's the most laborious to the teachers; however, if it was ten times what it is, I must own we are amply paid in seeing such a Reformation in the children.

Drs Moylan and Mc Carthy have sent us two young men to serve a Noviceship for the purpose of establishing our Institute in Cork.

Mary Flood to ER, 1 July 1814 (p 22) As there is a circumstance now occurs that calls on me without any previous notice for 100, I have no other resource than to draw upon you for that sum, and that you will remit it to me ... as speedily as possible.

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ER e-groups, NZ. 'I learnt and experienced a whole stack of stuff about Eddy Rice. We are part of something very cool.' To me (now) the charism focusses in what Eddie did more than on his personal striving for holiness. It is good to get a contrasting view as it helps us focus and redefine our view of charism which we need to update continually. ... very helpful and insightful. (Kevin Laws, 8 /10/2000)

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ER - a series of letters to the Commissioners of Charitable Donations and Requests. Waterford charities; administrator; Dr John Power (will); Father William Power; ER sole executor; heavy burden of the work involved.

ER to Mc Causland, Solicitor to the Commissioners, 20 May 1816. 'I need not tell you how much we want money here for the discharging (of) these Charities. ... requests 100 ... The premisses of the asylum are partly going to ruin for the want to money to repair them ? and the objects in it are after me like leeches. So that I hope you'll not fail in sending me the 100.

Waterford Chronicle, Waterford Mirror, 29 June 1816. Appeal for money: 'Poor Schools, Barrack Street' '... grateful acknowledgements for the liberal manner in which they have come forward these years past in assisting towards the clothing of the children of the said school ... extend, as widely as possible, the benefits of Education among the Poor of the city, without parochial or religious distinctions ... for want of sufficient room they have been under the painful necessity of refusing Admittance into their schools to several hundred poor children ... they were ... induced to begin the erection of two other schools sufficient to contain about 450 boys ... aided by a donation from Dr Power (will, 600) ... want of further means ... unfinished state ... need about 250. The appeal raised 310.

Waterford Chronicle, editorial. 'About 200 boys received their instruction in the open air' (p 26) Large sums of money had been received by voluntary contributions for the clothing of poor boys. For the years 1813?1822, the total sum contributed by the citizens of Waterford was 1284/5/2 while expenditure was 1178/13/3.

(Endless delays) ER to Mc Causland, W J, 'in order to enable me to bring this troublesome business to an end?'

The material below on seminaries is meant to provide insights into aspects of the Brothers spirituality ... rhetoric ... current (seminary) students already have considerable experience of the world ... The entire point of seminary life is to give students what they do not have already: namely patterns of regular prayer; a wide range of philosophical and theological training and preparation for the salvific work of sacramental priesthood. This is fundamentally and categorically different from other ways of serving humanity. Consequently, it will always be necessary for seminaries to maintain a certain degree of separateness. Without this time of preparation, seminarians would have nothing distinctive to offer the world on their return... seminarians having abandoned the Second Vatican Council's servant model of ministry ... to serve the people of God ... there has been a certain understandable reaction against excessive informality in dress and liturgical practice ... I would strongly dispute that this implies a desire to set the clock back ... priesthood offers the chance to be dedicated in mind, body and soul to the cause of human salvation ... some descriptions of ministry seem to have it indistinguishable from social work ... we must emphasise what is of unique value, namely the salvific work of sacramental priesthood ... We must convey the value of this work more effectively. (Pinsent, A, 'The Changing priesthood', The Tablet, 12 August 2000, p. 1076. Andrew Pinsent, English College, Via di Monserrato 45, 00186, Rome, Italy)

confusion and disturbance in seminaries and among seminarians ... Reflect the outlook of the church where they are situated ... implement the vision of the second Vatican Council ... the seminary is a seed bed and the seeds need nurturing ... Some of us felt that things should be done in a more traditional way ... empowering the laity ... collaborative ministry ... expense of the traditional priesthood.

The disintegration of a living sense of priestly identity is the root cause of any moral disorientation and degradation within the priesthood.

As long as the Western-rite Catholic church has a discipline of clerical celibacy, it would seem to be crucial that it should have priests who are psychologically mature and have freely embraced a life of celibacy. I cannot see how a celibate's sexual orientation is important in itself.

This file contains semi-organised material around three themes concerned with Edmund Rice and the Christian Brothers:

(a) The educational framework of Edmund Rice's schools;

(David Sheedy - Dublin Diocesan Archives - material regarding the Christian Brothers, 1823 - 1843: 33/5/2, 33/5/14, 33/5/46; 33/5/80; 33/5/83; 33/5/85.)

Kent, J.E. 'The Educational Ideas of Edmund Rice, Founder of the Presentation and Christian Brothers', M.Ed., U.C.C., 1988.

Early writings are often impressionistic and anecdotal...reference to 'a sea of undifferentiated poverty'; (p. 9) Rice's objective was not merely to provide education where there was none; it was to provide a special type of education. No pupil studied a broad range of subjects.

(p. 11) Pupils took one or two of he secondary or vocational subjects with a specific career in mind. Such post-primary subjects were studied not for a general education but in a practical way to prepare for a specific trade or clerkship.

(p. 12) Book-keeping; navigation. Only a small select group studied these subjects and some of this group attended the CBS for only a few months to obtain one of these skills or to study some topic in commercial arithmetic.

(p. 17) Rice aimed to educate the poor and give them social mobility...to give the children of the poor vocational skills that would enable them to break out of the cycle of poverty. (p. 72) The early Brothers never set out in systematic form any philosophy of education. (p. 77) The faith in education as a means of inculcating moral conduct sprang from an optimistic view of the effects of education that characterised the times.

Power to Murray, 8 June 1815. '...he (Rice) confided more than he should have done in the strength of his finances.' Archivium Hibernicum, XLI. 1986. File 33/5 Christian Brothers, pp. 44 - 57. Cork and Ross Diocesan Archives, Bishop's House, Redemption Road, Cork. Ireland. The following appears to be from this file: Rice to Murray, 20 May 1813: '...now (with pleasure) in his Lordship's name and that of this Community I resign into Your Grace's hands, every Dominion whatever over the Subjects in Dublin.'

Grosvenor to Murray, 27 March 1815: (Vacations) 'Tho' the severe labors of the schools necessarily require some intervals of rest, it is found that the children are much injured by long vacations and even the subjects are not much served thereby. We have school here on Saturdays and make it a practice during Vacations to have the children assemble there on four days in the week for an hour each day...there are spiritual instructions and they are examined in their tasks.'

(p. 90) '...in the upper classes a pupil often studied only one subject besides religion...' Report of the Commissioners appointed to inquire into the endowments, funds and actual conditions of all schools endowed for the purpose of education in Ireland (Kildare); 78 HC 1857-58 (2336 - 1) XXII. Part 1.1 Evidence of Brother James Duggan.

(p. 95) In fact, there is conflicting evidence about the amount of vocational education given by the Brothers. (p. 96) Schooling was not compulsory and the vast majority stayed only a short time. Six hundred pupils was the number given as attending OCS early in the 1830s, yet 1614 pupils were enrolled from 11 July 1831 to 7 July 1'834. (112) Applications, Public Records Office, ED 1/28/19. (113) School Registers, 1831 - 1837, North Richmond Street.

(p. 183) The recollections of a past pupil of the Presentation Brothers Lancastrian school in Cork gives a good idea how the vocational-oriented subjects were taught.

The school was not equipped for specialising but as soon as a boy of fourteen years or over showed any aptitude in any particular direction, and especially when it was known what occupation or profession the boy was to be placed in, steps were taken immediatelyto fit him for his future position by directing his studies to those branches of education which had a practical bearing on that position. He had, in a measure, individual attention paid to him. He was in a manner, coached during his last term or two. (Mehigan, J.J. 'Reminiscences of the Lancastrian School, Cork', Presentation Record, 8 October 1917, p. 2)

When we talk of 'high standards' the real question is 'high standards compared with what ?' The careers of the earliest Brothers before their admission suggest a good knowledge of business, mathematics and some other practical subjects...'

The qualifications of the early Brothers are hard to judge. Mc Carthy and Burke use such vague terms as 'possessing education beyond what was generally obtainable.' Some of their statements are unreliable, e.g. O'Connor and John Leonard are described as 'successful businessmen' yet the minutes of the Cork Poor Schools Society record that they had to be funded by that society while they were in training with Edmund Rice at Waterford.

Moreover, the meaning of certain terms has changed. In the time of Edmund Rice, a 'mechanic' was anyone who worked with his hands; architecture and pharmacy were not university subjects. In view of those who could only read and write (or who could not read and write !) the Brothers might be considered learned men while for those with a classical education they were 'illiterate'. 'Illiterate' was a word which meant 'lacking humane learning and knowledge of literature.' (Weld, H.C. Universal English Dictionary, Educational Book Co., 1961)

The Brothers schools set no limits to what they were prepared to teach; the limits were set by external factors. However, the CBS did not teach classics. The Brothers saw their roles as providing basic literacy and commercial skills.

(p. 107) The 'poor' was a term which was, and still is, relative. In contemporary Ireland, all below the level of landlords, wealthy tenant farmers and merchants were considered to be 'poor'. Shopkeepers, craftsmen, artisans, labourers and cottiers were referred to as the 'lower classes'. Below these were the abject poor. In (p. 112) Edmund Rice's schools the evidence of the early Registers show that there were children from all strata of society except the very rich. There is no information on how the Brothers selected pupils when too many applied: it seems to have been on a first-come, first-served, basis. Enrolments were taken every Monday morning. Application, Public Records Office: ED 1/28/18. Letter of Brother I. Kelly to T.T. Kelly, Officer of Education.

In the case of the abject poor, there were incorporated into Edmund Rice's school into a mixed social status group where they were accepted. The Brothers could take the abject poor without alienating others. They catered for a large minority of the abject poor.

(p. 155) New pupils were admitted to the school on a weekly rather than on an annual basis.

Andrews, C.S. Dublin made me, Mercier, Dublin and Cork, 1979, p. 69.

In Synge Street, CBS, the bulk of the pupils were from the lower middle and working classes but, when the secondary school stage was reached, a great number of the working class boys dropped out. Their family circumstances required that they should contribute to the family budget.

(p. 76) School life followed a regular pattern. It started at 9 a.m. sharp with morning prayers, lessons until twelve noon, then the Angelus followed by half-an-hour's Religious Instruction and half-an-hour for lunch; Lessons until 3 p.m. and then home. The atmosphere in the senior school was quite relaxed.

(p. 79) My school days were happy days. I am more than grateful to the Brothers. I feel they educated me adequately. The tone was different from that in the junior schools. Discipline in the matter of punctuality and order in the classrooms was strict but there was no problem in enforcing it. The boys were there because they wanted to learn and relations with the teachers were friendly.

(b) Edmund Rice's spirituality;

The Secularisation Process

The stages over the last thirty years or so:

1 Vatican II a gale of fresh air through the institutional church but large numbers of men (and women) leave their Congregations; in response, an emphasis keeping the numbers

2 In a time of rapid change and against falling numbers and few vocations, CLT/PLTs do not press the point over Brothers practice of the basic prayer and liturgical life

3 The sexual revolution and the emphasis on personal responsibility mean that a number of Brothers become involved (legally) in relationships contrary to their vows. When these things come to light the problem is looked at compassionately. (The undercurrent of sexual molestation of minors runs at about the same rate as for many years)

4 In bigger schools the principal's position is separated from that of the local Community Leader; and 'in appointments to the former role there is no emphasis on the Brothers (or others) attention to his religious duties

5 With the emphasis on keeping the numbers there is a tendency to encourage (even bribe) men to remain; positions of responsibility in house as well as school may bear no relationship to religious practice

6 Meanwhile, Chapters have tended to reduce markedly the times of community prayer and classic religious exercises; 'personal responsibilty' sometimes reduces these times of prayer personal and community to zero

7 With dwindling numbers of priests it is increasingly difficult for many Brothers engaged in active ministry in get to their daily eucharist. Over time, a few find it increasingly difficult to make Sunday liturgy

8 With the 'personal responsibility' principle in the ascendant, Superiors find it difficult to do anything effective to change the situation; the issues of community responsibility, group witness and scandal are at a discount or not as important as they were.

9 Over time, theory moves to endorse practice: the religious side of a Brother's religious life is declared his own personal responsibility.

10 The Rules and Constitutions of the Congregation already pitched in idealistic terms and at a high level of generality are increasingly anachronisitic as against actual practice in many cases.

11 While there has been extraordinary change in some areas of human experience, human nature has not changed and there are still only 24 hours in the day.

If it's not centred on Christ; if it's not spiritually-based; if it's essentially social work; if it's only 'doing a bit for the neighbour'; it's not Edmund Rice

Do stress also the 'points of light'

1 the continuing dedication of many/most of the Brothers at a difficult time of rapid and accelerating change

2

Hempenstall, T, 'No Longer Our Life', Our Life (Brisbane, Queensland), Vol 27 No 4, November 2000, pp 18?20

The 125 year Brothers presence in Queensland, Jubilee celebrations prompted his writing - as far as the article goes. Symbols mean different things to different people. I viewed the procession and the solemnity of the occasion. Hymns - 'I will raise him up'. 'The Shepherd Psalm', 'Only a Shadow' - these songs are often sung at the Obsequies to farewell someone who has entered the next phase of life after death ... 125 years ... full of glory and achievement ... sadness and shame (abuse) ... a funeral rite of gratitude for something that no longer is ... what to arise from the ashes ?

New values; changed faith. Theologies that would place religious life above and beyond the life of the world, smacked of elitism; special; - 'have run their time'

Cosmologies that would place Church and Rome at the centre of the world with responsibility to run people's lives have had their day...I (Tony) have moved from the beliefs and values that were handed on to me by my mentors of those days ... I hold new values, profess a different faith, live by a different theology, experience a vastly different world and sit within a different cosmology to that of Edmund Rice.

Changes in lifestyle, ministry, prayer ... diversity in a life-giving way ... division, irrelevance, bitterness. Three strands/categories of Brothers:

1. First Group: believe faithfully in the traditional or semi-traditional religious life proclaimed by the institutional church; to Holy Father, to Rome ... chastity, poverty and obedience ... traditional male communities ... Prayer of the Church ... daily Mass ... ministering in traditional ways to youth/needy ... The Constitutions for guidance ... many old/retired.

2 Second Group: how big ? how many ? ... lost in the new era ... some lead a solitary life ... they don't meet any more with other Brothers for fun, recreation, prayer, reflection or sharing ... they maybe present at meals or not ... no prayer any more ... immersed in work ... little meaning in their lives as a religious any more ... they remain since there seems nowhere else to be ... the energy that once drew them to the Congregation has disappeared ... 'Boarding house' communities for such men.

3 Third Group: how big ? no longer look to Rome or the Institutional Church, the Constitutions, or the Evangelical Counsels as the solid foundations for their religious living ... moved from traditional ways of living religious life ... non-traditional ministries ... different cosmology ... different theology ... no longer see the Church as the centre of life but they embrace the Universal Story in its mysterious unfolding as the basis for meaning and life ... Four Directions of the Universe/of the Congregation as guidance for living their call ... They no longer seek the Divine in the traditional forms of prayer and liturgy. Vatican pronoucements no longer point to the meaning of life for them ... They may live with other Brothers who share a similar world-view ... or in a mixed community, men/women; brother/non-Brother. They believe in community in a broad sense ... inclusivity ... environment a key focus ... They engage in the ecological, social and environmental debates of today ... religious living/ not traditional religious life. May feel part of ERF/maybe not.

Much reference to similar world views; ... similar faith ... insurmountable gaps.

It is time to allow people to be where they are and to stop trying to convert, cajole, change or motivate to move on from where they are. Where they are is where they are and that is OK at this time in our history.

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Hempenstaff, T, 'Community 2000', Our Life, (Brisbane, Queensland), Vol 27 No 2, June 2000, pp 13?15.

(Privileged moment) 16 January 2000, 7 Brothers gathered at Eagle Terrace yo inaugurate the community with RITUAL and a shared MEAL. Our journey commenced in 1995 ... Assembly ... exploring different paradigms of religious life in the world ... (Damien Price, Jules Maher, Tom O'Dempsey, Bob Fredericks, Paul Wilson and Anthony Hempenstaff - Apologies: Richard Walsh and Marty Sanderson). 6+2 apologies - Sandgate, Eagle Crescent - the special place.

Ritual: We contemplated a series of pictures set out on the floor, to select one or two and to use the picture(s) to speak about what we wanted to leave behind at this time of our lives and what we may be hoping for by belonging to this community. Then, using a ball of wool, which was thrown to each member, we spoke of what iwas that was drawing us to this different experience of community in this new millennium. Many spoke of being tired of the old institutional moulds of Church and religious life and theology ... Pictures depicting new life forms, openings, doorways, birds in flight, symbols of Christ in the poor, were chosen; talked to. At the conclusion of this exercise quite an interesting design had been created by the wool linking each of us.

Paul then led us in an exercise choosing and creating words that encapsulated people's hopes and dreams for this group: words like 'dreaming and deepening'; 'time together'; 'the Heart Stuff'; 'Search for the Sacred Together'; 'Touching the core beyond that which is dead'; 'Enter into the Mystery together'; ... planted shrubs, symbolising new growth; blessing with a Celtic ritual; readings from Scripture: *** Isaiah spoke to us of the one who would come to bring the good news to the poor; and John invited us 'To come and see'. Then we retired to the local for a meal and to toast the new beginning.

We are looking for something more meaningful and life-giving in religious life today. Traditional religious life no longer holds the meaning that we sought when we committed ourselves to this way-of-life. A different world-view; a growing awareness of our place in the Universe; an explosion of spiritualities (all of equal value for Christians ?) These have changed what it means to be human and religious in the twenty-first century. Live life to the full.

No predictable ministries under our control ... Our Congregation has had to face its shadow ... He expresses no worries that the Congregation is dying in this part of the world ... carry on the work of Edmund ...

New communities such as the Friends of Edmund

Edmund Rice Family ... out of the ashes of the past

We are looking for something different ... especially in community life-style ... like-minded men and women bonded by the spirit of Edmund .... variety of community living a good thing.

We began this journey as a Congregation, albiet a very painful journey, many years ago in the arena of ministry when validlity was bestowed upon ministries that were no longer tied to the traditional school ministry ... a myriad of ways ...

Official constitutions, Canon Law and Church pronouncements no longer say it adequately for us. Eco-spirituality; ... the Universe story; Peace and Justice and Care; Authentic Relationships;

We intend to meet five or six times this year to share story, do some theological reflection, ritualise, discern, share a meal and play some.

(Moy Hitchen) Jesus is the full revelation of God's creative Word and Wisdom ... deep relationships with ecosystems ... The community seeks God's will for human beings living in this local ecosystem ... minimises waste and energy loss ... a world-wide network of individuals and groups working for a more just world ... to promote the dignity of human beings ... eliminating unjust structures and establishing just structures ... life-threatening drug addiction.

(Paul Wilson) CJS two tracks for ministry alongside other cultures ... cultural change ... How is the culture coping after colonisation ? Who are suffering ? What are their needs ? sociology is the favoured human science So social work, community development, social services all have their place here ... To strengthen cultural identity ... Cultural recovery, rituals and especially language are the focus of such ministry. People under duress were forced to see reality through the eye of the oppressor (Paulo Freire) 'Popular education to name their own reality'. If the ERF can do anything with people in Cherbourg in coming years it is to be hoped we can affirm the presence of the sacred in their culture and acknowledge the good spirit at work in the enormous number of social initiatives responding to the forces of cultural destruction. Religious surely are called to value the spiritual in all its diverse forms.

'It is difficult for sound to pass through the walls of infallibility'

The priestly and religious life is a strictly minority vocation which makes five serious demands on weak human nature which church-going lay Catholics do not embrace:

poverty, i.e. a certain simplicity of life, even in the midst of abundance;

chastity, involving celibacy;

obedience to a Superior within the rules of each particular Congregation;

community life with same-sex adults of varied ages and backgrounds, whose company was not chosen;

a life of prayer and devotion to God more demanding than almost all lay people embrace.s

1 To me (now) the charism focusses in what Eddie did more than on his personal striving for holiness. It is good to get a contrasting view as it helps us focus and redefine our view of charism which we need to update continually. ... very helpful and insightful

2 There are those, men and women of action rather than people inclined to thoughtful introspection who might say: What does this conceptof charism matter anyway?: many, if not most of the ministries of this Congregation can and will be done no matter what the theoretical view of charism. However, the author does not take this view. It can matter in the priorities Brothers set themselves, in the Province and Congregational allocation of resources and in recruitment and training, and in the image of the Congregation presented to the world. In the matter of training, for example, this writer with his view of charism, resonates with the following view of training; others may not do so. 'Most trainees these days, being older on admission, have a reasonable knowledge of the world and more knowledge of themselves.The entire point of novitiate and training is to give students what they do not have already: namely, patterns of regular prayer; a wide range of philosophical and theological training and preparation for the salvific work of their later ministries. This is fundamentally and categorically different from other ways of serving humanity. Consequently, it will always be necessary for trainees to maintain a certain degree of separateness. Without this time of preparation, the trainees would have nothing distinctive to offer the world on their return.'. (Pinsent, A, 'The Changing priesthood', The Tablet, 12 August 2000, p. 1076, adapted)

3 When this image is applied to Religious Brothers, priests and sisters vowed to chastity including celibacy, the image is meant to be taken metaphorically, not literally !

4 Perfectae Caritatis, art. 2

5 The Tablet, 24 March 2001,

6 Hempenstall, T, 'No Longer Our Life', Our Life (Brisbane, Queensland), Vol 27 No 4, November 2000, pp 18?20

7 Only time will tell whether this third group of Brothers represent a wave of the future, or simply leave and disappear from the Congregation. If this writer disagrees at this stage with Tony it is his implies that the group is large and growing; whereas my

8 O'Hanlon, W A, 'The early Brothers of the Society of the Presentation', Christian Brothers Educational Record, Rome, 1979, p 28

9 Hickey, F R, 'The first history of the Congregation', Christian Brothers Educational Record, Rome, 1982, p 10

10 The shifts in style reflect both the inadequacies of the author and the fact that he is trying to maintain the presence in the script of a former collaborator who is not longer able to contribute.

11 Quane, M, 'Bishop Foy School, Waterford', Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society, 1966, pp 106?22

12 Smith, C, State and County and City of Waterford, Dublin, 1746, pp 189?90.

13 In 1981 when the author was living in Rome (Tertianship) he found material on Edmund Rice, typescript, c. 30-50 pages, which at that date made rather more sense on Edmund than a fair bit which had been written to that date. There was no name on the manuscript, but Irish Brothers interested in the history of the Congregation told me (later) that it would have been Brother Lawrence O'Toole's impression. His work pointed me in this direction.

14 At the time, the Catholic free school was a miserable hovel compared to the imposed Bishop Foy establishment.

15 One enticement used by the proselytisers to gain enrolments to their schools was provision of free food and clothing to the scholars; in his bake house and tailor's shop at Mount Sion (after 1804) Edmund Rice was confronting the proselytisers by using their methods to attracts students. Of course, within a short time the Brothers did not have to think of touting for pupils in competition with the protestants, and provision of food and clothing for the poorest pupils was a compassionate gesture pure and simple.

16 Normoyle, M C, A Tree is Planted, Privately printed, Dublin, 1976.

17 Much of the evidence for this argument is contained in a little-known, 1962 Ph.D (University College, Maynooth) by Brother J J Sullivan cfc, who held the Chair of Irish History in Maynooth for many years.

18 Edmund Rice to the Archbishop of Cashel, LR 1-2, 9 May 1810.

19 Hempenstall, T, 'Community 2000', Our Life, (Brisbane, Queensland), Vol 27 No 2, June 2000, pp 13?15.

20 While the writer has expressed some slightly ironic comments about ERC leaders at times, the writer stresses that if it was his call, which it isn't, he would continue the ERC, even in its present form and with its present leadersship.

21 Observers is another thing, of course

22 There is an impression that some are not active Catholics

23 Her party witticism is 'They've got barrowloads of money and can celebrate anything; two flies crawl up the wall, and out comes the gin and tonic.' She likes the Brothers but thinks Edmund Rice deserves better at times.

24 This article is not focussed on the development of the Edmund Rice (extended) family at this stage; that will come.

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