Edmund Rice was born four centuries ago and grew up in Waterford, Ireland, with his parents, six brothers and two sisters.
He grew up in a wealthy family, wanting for nothing, however he learned very early that not all enjoyed the comforts that he experienced. A commitment to charity inspired by his mother, combined with a devotion to and adulation for the work that Jesus performed, Edmund saw a great need among the poorest people in his community, particularly destitute young men or “street urchins” as they were often called. Without regard for his own comforts or well-being, Edmund applied his powerful sense of empathy and his unwavering devotion to a life spent educating, feeding, clothing, and sheltering a population that was otherwise overlooked in his time.
Edmund was not alone in his passionate commitment to providing basic education and religious instruction to the young men of his community. Other men who believed in Edmund’s mission and came to teach at his original school were inspired both by Edmund’s fervent vision and by the impact they were having on the lives of their students. In 1802, Edmund Rice, and seven of his colleagues took religious vows, and the Congregation of Christian Brothers was formed. The Christian Brother’s motto “facere et docere,” meaning , “to do and to teach,” now resonates in the work that these men do on six continents, in twenty-five countries, in over 500 schools. Palma is honored to be a part of this proud tradition as Edmund Rice’s words and ideas echo in our Mission Statement, in our morning prayer, and in the spirit of compassion that is found on campus.
Pope John Paul II beatified Brother Edmund Ignatius Rice in Rome on October 6, 1996, and he became known as Blessed Edmund Ignatius Rice. His feast day is celebrated on May 5th.