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Almost two and a half centuries ago, in 1762 a man by the name of Edmund Ignatius Rice was born into an affluent farming family in Callan, Ireland. At seventeen years of age, he showed so much of promise in his uncle’s firm , that soon the reins of the family business were handed over to him. Material success, however, did not go to young Edmund’s head, but was paralleled by his charitable activities and deep spiritual growth.
A severe testing of Rice’s faith arose with the tragic death of his wife in childbirth. Faced with the responsibility of raising a motherless daughter, himself, he now clearly saw the plight of other destitute children living on the streets. He decided then and there, not only to raise his own child but to provide adequate and suitable care for these hapless street waifs. With God as his help and stay, he embarked upon the Herculean task of rehabilitating boys, who having got accustomed to life in the streets, found it difficult to conform to schooling. Often, Rice was abandoned by his helpers and left to cope alone with his work, but his spiritual tenacity and steadfastness slowly bore fruit and he saw his community of helpers increase and spread beyond the borders of Ireland. Today, the congregation of Christian Brothers owes its existence to the vision and faith of one man – Edmund Rice.