CBC History

The Christian Brothers

How it all started -The Christian Brothers were founded in Ireland in the early 1800’s by a widower called Edmund Rice. He was a middle-aged man, called by the Holy Spirit to devote his life and wealth to remedying the very difficult political situation that had occurred in Ireland, especially in the field of education. The youth at the time were subjected to humiliation, demoralisation as well as being forced to adopt a foreign religion. In 1800 Edmund Rice, who had now handed over his wealthy business after deciding to follow Christ in religious life, opened his first school in a stable in New Street, Waterford, Ireland. The tree had been planted. His concern for the marginalised, especially the young people, did not stop at their education. He employed a baker and tailor to feed and clothe those who attended the school, visited the imprisoned and performed all the other corporal works of mercy. Others joined him and together they became the first Christian Brothers.

Starting in Southern Africa
It was in 1897 that the first Christian Brothers were invited to South Africa – Kimberley. The school was a success. Further expansion took place. Christian Brothers’ College Pretoria opened in 1922. Christian Brothers’ College Boksburg and Christian Brothers’ College Cape Town opened in 1934. Further openings took place at Woodstock, Galeshewe, Bloemfontein, Athlone and Welkom. Christian Brothers’ College Bulawayo opened in 1953.
Since the 70’s the Brothers have conducted schools in Embakwe in Zimbabwe, Flagstaff in the former Transkei and Mariasdal in the former Bophutatswana. In recent times the Brothers have played a major part in establishing and running the Mankwe Christian College of Education at Mogwase.

The Brothers Today

The Christian Brothers are involved wherever there is a need today – young people, adults, the sick, underprivileged, etc.As a biographer, Desmond Rushe, writes in a book on the life of Edmund Rice:
“The mistake is to relate Edmund Rice to the early 1800’s and to Waterford, or Ireland. The truth is that he belongs to all times and to all places – an inspiration and a challenge then, now, and over all the years to come …”
The Christian Brothers are involved wherever there is a need today – young people, adults, the sick, underprivileged, etc.

As a biographer, Desmond Rushe, writes in a book on the life of Edmund Rice:
“The mistake is to relate Edmund Rice to the early 1800’s and to Waterford, or Ireland. The truth is that he belongs to all times and to all places – an inspiration and a challenge then, now, and over all the years to come …”
Here in Bulawayo, the Brothers are involved in the upgrading and development of a number of schools in the area and with the financial support of the parents through the Board of Governors, have raised the standard of education for thousands of children. They are also involved in a feeding scheme which feeds nearly 2000 underprivileged children on a daily basis.

The College Crest

1. The Star in the crest is a reminder that those “who instruct many unto justice will shine as stars for all eternity”. The star is the symbol of enlightenment and instruction.
2. The star is set upon a cross; the cross is the symbol of our redemption and the source of the inspiration of our faith.
3. The circle around the cross symbolises eternity and its traceries are Celtic in design.
4. The Celtic lettering around the cross – “Congregation Fratum Christianorum” – is the Latin for “The Congregation of Christian Brothers”.
5. The letters displayed on the open page near the top of the crest are the first and last letters of the Greek Alphabet – Alpha and Omega. This symbolises God – the beginning and the end.
6. The Congregational Motto on top of the crest – “Facere et Docere” means “to do and to teach”. We read in Saint Matthew’s Gospel – “he that shall do and teach shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” This motto appears on all Christian Brothers School crests throughout the world.
7. Bulawayo – St. Patrick’s – College motto appears at the bottom of the crest – ‘viriliter age’ – which means – “act manfully”. The word “vir” means man in Latin and has many connotations – viz courage, both moral and physical; strength, especially strength of character; determination and conviction.
8. The Christian Brothers Congregation was founded in Ireland in 1802, hence the whole design in the cross, the tracery, the lettering, in conception and execution, is characteristically Celtic.
9. Finally, the Cross and the Star are enclosed in a frame composed of many parts, all so ingeniously composed and deftly intertwined that the complete design produces that sense of satisfaction which harmony and unity create. This too has its symbolism, for it typifies the comforting conditions that should adorn a Christian religious school whose members are gathered together “to do and to teach” and “to act manfully” – for the greater honour and glory of God.

The new congregational logo
A logo is always open to exploration and insight. The central symbol of Christianity, i.e., the cross, is also the central to our expression of our identity as Christian Brothers. The shape of the cross takes its origin from Celtic spirituality as does our Congregation. The significance and the insights of Edmund Rice are highlighted in the stylised E which is incorporated in the logo.
As disciples of Christ, Christian Brothers are continually called to let go and leave behind all that prevents us from living faithfully the values of the gospel and from promoting the Kingdom of God. This call and response is shown symbolically by the movement of the circle away from its regular pattern. Our call to internationality, which flows from the time of our Founders and continues on to this day, is not just in geography but also in moving, as flexible and mobile disciples, to meet the needs of the times. The new leaves and shoots express a continually renewing spiritual journey, offering new life to the Congregation and bringing hope to our Brothers and to our world. Yet even the new leaves continue to express our growth through fragility, by their links to the cross and in risks of branching out.