Memories from the past: Christian Brothers

27 Jul 2021

Above: Christian Brothers College, Adelaide students 1943.

In 1843, the Irish Christian Brothers first arrived in Sydney at the invitation of Archbishop Polding, but left in 1848.

The Christian Brothers returned to Australia in 1868, arriving in Melbourne at the invitation of Bishop James Goold, they were Brothers P A Treacy, D F Bodkin, J B Lynch and P J Nolan.

In 1869, the Brothers began teaching at a small primary school behind St Francis’ Church in Lonsdale Street, Melbourne. In 1871, Parade College, in Melbourne was founded by the Brothers with over 100 students enrolled.

Over the next 35 years, Br Treacy responded to invitations from Bishops to establish schools across the dioceses of Brisbane, Sydney, Adelaide, and Perth in Australia and Dunedin in New Zealand.

Edmund Rice Education Australia (EREA) was formed by the Christian Brothers in 2007 which continues the work of education and is
responsible for the governance of over 50 schools throughout Australia.

Newest EREA school, St Mary’s College, East St Kilda

EREA executive director Dr Craig Wattam said those original Christian Brothers arrived on our shores and endured tremendous struggle and

“They taught classes of up to 100 students in a single room, they had little training, and they often survived on the donations of food and other necessities from generous Catholics in their neighbourhood,” he said.

“This year we celebrate the bicentenary of Catholic education in Australia, we also celebrate the 150th anniversary of our oldest Edmund
Rice school, Parade College.”

“The Christian Brothers and our Edmund Rice schools around this nation form an integral part of the story of Catholic schooling in
Australia,” he said.

“Many of our schools have been in existence for well over 100 years, and yet many of our schools are still in their infancy.”

“Today we reaffirm our commitment to providing an education that liberates,” he said.

“Our contribution to the fabric of Catholic education is significant, enduring, and meaningful.

”Today over 39,000 students are being educated in 54 schools with the charism of Blessed Edmund Rice.

Edmund Rice Education Australia, 2021, accessed 16 June 2021.
Parade College, 2020, Our Heritage, accessed 16 June 2021.
St Pius X College Chatswood, 2021, Christian Brothers and Edmund Rice, accessed 16
June 2021.
Williams, M. D., 2012,‘Big Brother The Amazing Influence that the Christian Brothers
have had on Education in Australia’, Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School, Launceston,
accessed 16 June 2021.
Wattam, C. 2021, Celebrating two hundred years of Catholic education in Australia, EREA
Executive Director’s Message – March 2021, viewed 16 June 2021.


Pioneer Catholic Educator remembered

Pioneer Catholic Educator remembered

Image: Fr John Neill OP OAM with Blackfriars Priory School students in 2016.  For 200 years Catholic schools have been established and staffed by pioneer clergy, religious and lay educators, many of whom devoted their entire lives to Catholic education.  "Let us not...

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