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 Christian 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 Christian 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.

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