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Irish Christian Brothers History


Congregation of Christian Brothers

The Congregation of Christian Brothers is a worldwide religious community within the Catholic Church, founded by Brother Edmund Rice. The Irish Christian Brothers, as they are commonly known in the United States, are often confused with, but are separate from the widely known De La Salle Christian Brothers founded by Saint John Baptist de La Salle.

Irish Christian Brothers are religious Brothers who are dedicated to the education of boys and most often hire local religious order and diocesan priests to be chaplains, instructors and sit on their board of directors.

Edmund Rice

Edmund Rice Edmund Rice, a Waterford, Ireland, merchant, along with the support of Dr. Thomas Hussey, the Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Waterford and Lismore, founded the order and opened their first school, on Waterford's New Street in 1802.

They then went on to open additional schools and in 1808, Edmund Rice and several other teachers took religious promises under Bishop John Power of Waterford and became known as "Presentation Brothers", one of the first congregations of men to be founded in Ireland and one of the few founded in the Church by a layman.

From Waterford, Rice went on to establish schools, orphanages, and a school for the deaf in various Ireland communities and in 1820 the Holy See formally established the Congregation of Irish Christian Brothers, the first Irish congregation of men approved by a charter from Rome.

Finding Their Way to America

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia and other histories of the Congregation of Irish Christian Brothers, the order quickly spread to England, Australia, New Zealand and Newfoundland. In 1886, they established a presence in India; in 1900, Rome; and, in 1906, schools were established in New York City.

Once in North America the order established three provinces (Canada, Eastern American, and Western America) but more recently restructured the three into one entity, the Edmund Rice Christian Brothers North America.

Irish Christian Brothers Scandals

In the late 20th and early 21st century the reputation of the Congregation suffered from the exposure of a series of scandals in Ireland involving emotional, physical and sexual abuse of children in the Congregation's care. Similar abuse scandals also emerged other countries including Canada, the United States and Australia.

In May 2009 a report commissioned by the Irish government found that sexual abuse of boys in institutions run by the Brothers was widespread and in response the Congregation issued a pledge to pay 161 million Euros to compensate victims.

Amid Rising Claims of Abuse, Irish Christian Brothers North American Province File for Bankruptcy

In April of 2011, amid mounting sexual abuse claims against U.S. and Canadian members, the North American branch of the Christian Brothers filed for bankruptcy protection. The bankruptcy filing was made in New York, where the Brothers' North American chapter is headquartered.

Bar Date for Claims Set by Bankruptcy Court

Christian Brothers Subsequent to the filing of bankruptcy by the Irish Christian Brothers, the court has ordered that all claims against the Province must be filed by August 1, 2012. That means that as a result of the Irish Christian Brothers of North America bankruptcy, anyone who was sexually abused by a member of the order may now be able to bring a claim—even if in the past he or she was told they could not. But, the claim must be filed before the August 1st deadline or survivors will be forever barred at a chance for justice. The bankruptcy judge is requiring the Irish Christian Brothers to notify alumni of their schools about the bankruptcy and provide them information about where the accused perpetrators worked.

The Irish Christian Brothers are located throughout the United States, including states like New York, California, Washington, Hawaii, Illinois, and New Jersey, where they primarily run schools. A number of Brothers have been accused, and some convicted, of sexually abusing students at schools where they worked. For instance, Brother Robert Brouillette was convicted on child porn charges and sexual abuse of a student at St. Laurence High School in Oak Lawn, Illinois. Similarly, three boys accused Brother John Lackie of sexual abuse when they were students at Briscoe Memorial School in Kent, Washington. The boys also alleged abuse by six other Brothers at the school.

If you, or someone you know, were sexually abused at a school where the Irish Christian Brothers taught, call Jeff Anderson & Associates today for a free, private and confidential consultation.



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