The Beatification of Edmund Rice in Rome
Founder of the Irish Christian Brothers
Nearly 5,000 Irish people were in Rome on Saturday, October 5th., 1996 to attend the beatification of Brother Edmund Rice, founder of the Christian Brothers and the Presentation Brothers.
They were joined by another 2,000 who have came from Christian Brothers schools and communities in six continents.
Also being beatified at the same time were 13 19th-century Polish martyrs(people who died for their faith), and the Spanish and Ukrainian founders of female religious orders.
Beatification is the big step towards being declared a saint. Following it, candidates need only one more miracle though their intercession before canonisation. Large political and church groups travelled from Ireland. There were large groups from Waterford and Kilkenny where he was born, worked and spent most of his working life.
The Minister for Education, Ms Breathnach, headed a 12 strong all-party group from the Government, which included the Minister for Defence, Mr Barrett, Minister of State, Mr Brian O'Shea from Tramore, and the Fianna Fail deputy leader Ms Mary O'Rourke. Every Fianna Fail Taoiseach (Leader), from Eamon de Valera to Albert Reynolds, has been a Christian Brothers pupil. Mr. Brian O,Shea used to teach in this school but he now works as a politician.
The lord mayors of Dublin and Cork, and the mayors of Limerick, Kilkenny and Waterford also travelled.
The 23 members of the Catholic Church in Ireland who travelled to Rome were led by Cardinal Daly; the new Archbishop of Armagh, Dr Sean Brady; and the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Desmond Connell. People have been collecting testimonies for the beatification of Edmund Rice since 1911. His "cause" was officially launched in Dublin in 1961, although it was not transferred to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome until 1979. In 1993 Pope John Paul II declared Edmund Rice "venerable" and two years later approved the miracle, the curing of a young Newry man, Kevin Ellison, who was thought to have had only 48 hours to live, which was attributed to Edmund Rice.
The high point of the weekend's ceremonies will be the beatification Mass in St Peter's Square on Sunday morning, pre- sided over by Pope John Paul II. This was broadcast live on RTE 1 at 9 a.m. We watched this event on the telly. I kept looking out for Mr O'Neachtain in the crowd. THere were thousands of people there. THe Pope was not well that day and he had to stop a few times during the Mass. The group from Waterford were suppose to meet him on the Sunday morning but he went into hospital on the Saturday and they never met him at all. Everybody was disappointed.
On the Saturday afternoon, in the audience hall of the Vatican, there was be a celebration of music, song and dance from the various countries where the Christian Brothers are represented, from Ireland to South Africa, showing the unity of the "Edmund Rice Family" around the world. Mr O'Neachtain said he really enjoyed the special concert. He really enjoyed the group from Newfoundland, CAnada, who sang songs of the sea.
On the Sunday afternoon there was be a "Rice Rave" for "heavy metal lovers", according to the public relations firm handling the beatification events, Fleishman Hillard Saunders. Mr O'Neachtain said it was like a folk festival where groups from differnt places around the world let their hair down and played music and sang songs. There was a group of Christian Brothers from Ireland with fiddles, and guitars and they kept the sing-song going.
RTE's Would You Believe programme broadcast a special documentary on Edmund Rice at 7 p.m. on Sunday evening, October 7th, which included an interview with the only Christian Brothers novice(Trainee) at present in training in Ireland.
There are currently 1,862 Christian Brothers around the world, 600 of whom are in Ireland. The Christian Brothers and the Presentation Brothers run 164 primary and secondary schools in Ireland.Written and researched by --:
Conor Conroy and Thomas Flynn