Recognising Edmund Rice Day
On Thursday, 5 May we celebrated Edmund Rice Feast Day and student leaders took the us through the history of Blessed Edmund. They reminded us that his charism emerged as a response to his experience as a son, a husband, a father, one who suffered loss, and one whose own brokenness enabled him to connect with those around him.
Through his faith and convictions, he found the strength and the courage to challenge political and social structures and set up a free school for boys living in poverty in Ireland. A school where he and the brothers provided an education which recognised the dignity, potential and wellbeing of the individual, empowering each learner to participate more fully in society.
This unyielding commitment to afford his students their human right to dignity and respect was formally expressed in the 1832 Rules of the Congregation, where Edmund decreed that:
“Each child, especially the poorest, resembles Jesus Christ and hence we as educators must act towards each one with kindness and be considerate of any faults and weaknesses. We must always treat them with consideration and respect.”
Almost 200 years on from that decree, Edmund Rice Schools operate in 21 countries around the world, with 280 schools educating over 200,000 young people in the Edmund Rice Charism. Here in Australia, EREA is responsible for the governance of 55 schools and the care of over 39,000 young people and children.
The growth and development of EREA is a story for us to celebrate with pride. A story of gratitude to the Christian Brothers for continuing to animate the work of Edmund Rice and perpetuate his dream that, through education, the young people in his care have a hope-filled future.
In my secondment to EREA as the Director of Learning, I had the privilege of engaging with many of our Australian schools. These schools certainly reflect the diversity of the Australian community – Indigenous schools in remote and rural areas, early learning, primary and secondary, boarding, all-boys and co-education schools, diverse needs and flexible learning schools.
Despite such diversity, I witnessed a commonality that unites us in an Edmund Rice Education: The four Touchstones which underpin our educational endeavours. Every EREA school commits to offering a Liberating Education, based on a Gospel Spirituality, within an Inclusive Community committed to Justice and Solidarity.
What does that mean? It means that EREA schools commit to:
- educate our young people in faith and in learning, so that they are equipped to live meaningful lives, and ones that benefit others, especially the poor, the silenced, and the forgotten.
- keep our young people safe, to give them a voice in their learning, and to afford them their human right to dignity and respect.
- focus on the growth of the whole person, in relationship with others, to be a liberating force for a just society.
- being welcoming and inclusive communities, where all members experience a strong sense of belonging.
- recognise that success is about growth, knowing more than we did yesterday and last week, trying to be a better person, and developing our relationship with God.
- being a voice for local and global issues affecting society.
- model a life that attempts to imitate that of Jesus; to be kind, compassionate and loving.
Edmund’s charism and mission is ours – ours to shape and to turn into a dynamic, contemporary force.
I asked how we, as members of the Waverley Community, live out Edmund’s charism and mission.
I suggested it can be as simple as starting with humility and all that that demands – patience, tolerance, compassion.
Mrs Elizabeth Watson
Deputy Principal – Teaching & Learning