Following the example of Edmund Ignatius Rice, their founder, the Christian Brothers have worked in education-related ministries throughout the world since 1802. The first school was set up in Waterford, Ireland to assist young boys to become good Catholics and upright citizens. This foundation served as the model for all the missions of the Brothers.
In the early years of the Congregation, the Brothers spread rapidly throughout Ireland setting up schools to serve the Catholics who desired an education in their faith as well as in academics, culture, and athletics. Soon word of their endeavors spread and requests came from around the world for the Brothers to set up schools in other countries (England, Gibraltar, Australia, India, and Canada). The first permanent mission of the Brothers in North America was in St. John's Newfoundland, in 1876. This mission became the foundation for a series of schools and institutions that spread throughout the Americas and continue to this day.
The Brothers are headquartered in Rome where the Congregational leadership team maintains the international connection of the Brothers with the Church in Rome. There are presently about 2,000 Brothers throughout the world continuing Blessed Edmund's work and ministry of education of the heart, mind, body, and soul. Besides the primary mission of education for young people, other ministries include adult education, teacher training, hospital ministry, homes for disadvantaged youth, and refugee work among others.
The Christian Brothers' Mission Statement
The mission and vision of Vancouver College is rooted in the mission of the Congregation of Christian Brothers. Vancouver College embodies the vision of Blessed Edmund Ignatius Rice, the founder of the Congregation and in so doing the Congregation of Christian Brothers contributes to the evangelizing mission of the Church. The following is the mission statement of the Congregation: "We, the Christian Brothers of North America, gifted and called by the Spirit, experience the deep presence of Christ in ourselves, in each other in a caring community, and in those we serve in our mission of evangelization. We are sent by the Church to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom to the people of God, particularly to today's youth and to the poor, especially to the materially poor; so that by our lives and apostolate of Christian education we may develop the awareness within them of God's loving presence."
This Mission Statement includes the four fundamental principles that should guide our future apostolic choices:
- Fidelity to humanity and to the signs of the times;
- Fidelity to Christ and the Gospel;
- Fidelity to the Mission of the Church in the World;
- Fidelity to the religious life and to the charism of our Congregation.
(Religious and Human Promotion #13)