Edmund Ignatius Rice - Encyclopedia

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EDMUND IGNATIUS RICE (1762-1844), Irish philanthropist, founder of the "Irish Christian Brothers," was born at Westcourt, near Callen, Kilkenny, on the 1st of June 1762. He entered the business of his uncle, an export provision merchant in Waterford, in 1779 and succeeded him in 1790. In 1796 he established an organization for visiting and relieving the poor, and in 1802 began to educate the poor children of Waterford, renting a school and supporting two teachers. In 1803 he gave up his business and, joined by a number of friends, began to systematize his plans. Others, like-minded, opened schools at Dungarvan and Carrick-on-Suir. The little society numbered nine in 1808, and meeting at Waterford took religious vows from their bishop, assumed a "habit" and adopted an additional Christian name, by which, as by the collective title "Christian Brothers," they were thenceforth known. Schools were established in Cork (181I), Dublin (1812), and Thurles and Limerick (1817). In 1820 Pope Pius VII. issued a brief sanctioning the order of "Religious Brothers of the Christian Schools (Ireland)," the members of which were to be bound by vows of obedience, chastity, poverty and perseverance, and to give themselves to the free instruction, religious and literary, of male children, especially the poor. The heads of houses were to elect a superior general, and Rice held this office from 1822 to 1838, during which time the institution extended to several English towns (especially in Lancashire), and the course of instruction grew out of the primary stage. Rice died on the 29th of August 1844. The Irish Christian Brothers have some hundred houses in Ireland with 300 attached schools and over 30,000 pupils. There are also industrial schools and orphanages, and the institute has branches in Australia, India, Gibraltar and Newfoundland.

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