The Christian Brothers have been engaged in a long process internationally
of reassessing their mission in the wake of the profound changes that
have been taking place in the world, and in the Church over recent decades.
As one of the major teaching
orders of the Church they played a profound part throughout the 19th and
20th Centuries in educating Catholics and giving them "a fair go"
in important parts of the Western world, including the countries that
make up Oceania. Thanks to their work Catholics today largely take their
place as equals with all other citizens in the countries where the Christian
Brothers had influence. Their principal work as teachers has today largely
been taken over by lay people and recently, in Oceania they handed over
management of their remaining schools to lay trustees.
The work of the brothers has not ceased though.
They have now refocused their attention to "being brother" to
the disadvantaged in less developed regions of the world and to those
who have "fallen between the cracks" in Western countries such
as our own.
With fewer vocations to the celibate life,
the brothers have been engaged in a long process of discernment over the
last decade charting a new future. This has already led to amalgamations
of provinces in North America and other parts of the world. Today the
Brothers announced the new leadership team which will take the Brothers
forward in the new Province of Oceania.
In a media release announcing the changes today
the Christian Brothers gave an overview of their present work. In Oceania
today the Brothers have over 60 separate ministries which include:
- The Edmund Rice Centres for Justice in Sydney and Fremantle which
work in different ways with refugees, Indigenous people and in the area
- Edmund Rice Camps, which provide school holiday opportunities for
children from deprived areas
- Educational work with Indigenous people, assisting them with computer
literacy and in recovering indigenous languages
- Training volunteers for Brothers ministries at home and overseas
- Prison ministry
- Working with local communities in the Philippines, especially in the
area of education
- Working in education and health in Papua New Guinea, including a special
school for the sight impaired
- Specialised schools for students not able to manage mainstream schooling
The new Oceania Province will formally come
into being on 1st October 2007.
The Christian Brothers are present in 27 countries
worldwide and the Oceania province, including its outreaches in the Philippines
and Africa, consists of some 450 Brothers and over 4,000 employees and
Media Release from the Christian Brothers: www.edmundrice.org.au/media/Newsrelease.pdf
For biographical information about the leadership team see this LINK.
Brian Coyne/Vias Tuas Communications