The Congregation of Christian Brothers (officially, in Latin: Congregatio Fratrum Christianorum; members of the order use the post-nominal “CFC”) is a worldwide religious community within the Catholic Church, founded by Edmund Rice.
The Christian Brothers chiefly work for the evangelisation and education of youth, and are involved in many ministries, especially with the poor. The Brothers’ schools include primary, secondary and technical schools, orphanages and schools for the deaf. A number of these technical schools originally taught poor children trades such as carpentry and building skills for which they could progress to gain apprenticeships and employment.
Their first school was opened in Waterford, Ireland, in 1802.
The congregation of Irish Christian Brothers spread to Liverpool and other parts of England. These new ventures were not always immediately successful. Two brothers had been sent to Gibraltar to establish an institute in 1835. However, despite initial successes they left in August 1837 on account of disagreements with the local priests. The school eventually flourished supplying education to the twentieth century. The “Line Wall College” was noted in 1930 for the education that it supplied to “well to do” children.
Brother Ambrose Treacy established a presence in Melbourne, Australia in 1868, in 1875 in Brisbane, Australia and in 1876 a school was commenced in Dunedin, New Zealand. In 1875 a school was opened in St. John’s, Newfoundland.
- In 1886 the Pope requested that they consider setting up in India, and a province of the congregation was established there.
- In 1900 came the invitation to establish houses in Rome, and in 1906 schools were established in New York City.
- In 1940 Iona College was founded in New York, as a Higher Education College, facilitating poorer high school graduates to progress to a College education.
- In 1955 Stella Maris College (Montevideo) in Uruguay was established.
- In 1967, the Christian Brothers had a membership of about 5,000, teaching in around 600 schools.
- The Christian Brothers teacher training center has become the Marino Institute for Education which has trained lay teachers since 1972 and has offered degrees validated by the University of Dublin since 1974.
- In 2012 Trinity College Dublin became a co-trustee with the Brothers of the Institute.