Edmund Rice is honored as the founder of both the Christian Brothers and the Presentation Brothers. For more than two centuries, many have been and continue to be attracted by his vision and generosity. The mission continues today on all five continents through the ministry of Christian Brothers and laity called to serve in this vocation of Catholic Education.
The Christian Brothers came to Australia – first of all, to Sydney – in 1843, at the invitation of Archbishop Polding, but left in 1848.
They arrived in Melbourne in 1868 at the invitation of Bishop James Goold. Within thirty-five years, the remarkable Brother Patrick Ambrose Treacy had responded to invitations from various Bishops to establish schools in the Dioceses of Brisbane, Sydney, Adelaide, Dunedin and Perth. The task of the Brothers in Australia, as mandated by the Bishops, was the evangelization of the mainly poor, mainly Irish, Catholic families of the colonies.
The gift to Australian Catholic education since 1868 has been profound. The ministry of the Christian Brothers and their co-workers is active in all States and Territories of Australia and continues to be expressed in multiple forms.
At the beginning of the 21st century in Australia, there is a continuing need for Catholic schools in the Edmund Rice tradition to reflect on their purpose and role. This is borne out by the complexity of the modern world and the challenges confronting young people in their search for meaning. All members of these schools are called by way of their vocation to be committed to reflect deeply on ingrained practices and issues relevant to spirituality. They are called to provide education that is transformational and liberating within the reign of God for the world.