Edmund chose the poor boys of Ireland as the focus of his work.
He saw education as the best way to help them.
In our times and region education is readily available but there are some who are not able to avail of the opportunities most take for granted.
The Edmund Rice Network in Oceania realize that there is a need to reach out to these in a way which may involve education but which recognizes the individual needs of each.
This was evidenced in a strong presence at The Australian Catholic Youth Festival recently held in Adelaide. Over 3000 young people and eighteen Bishops from across the country converging on South Australia for three days of music, guest speakers, silence & prayer, practical workshops and plenary sessions.
Centred on the theme from the beatitudes, “blessed are the pure of heart for they shall see God” (Mt 5.8), young people aged between 14 to 25 had the rare opportunity to explore questions about their faith, in particular what it means to be ‘pure of heart’.
The Christian Brothers (represented through Edmund Rice Camps & Build the Bridge Volunteers) had a strong presence at this year’s festival; bringing a uniquely “Edmund Rice” voice to the diverse program. Highlights from our involvement included:
- Andree Brown (Edmund Rice Camps SA Executive Officer) facilitating a key workshop around the themes of “Faith in Action” and young adult formation, highlighting that in our learned experience, young people are truly able to explore and develop their faith when it is expressed through action.
- Andree also hosted an Edmund Rice Camps ‘National’ stall, receiving strong support from camps volunteers Eliesa Morello, Mary Zeoli, Senuri Wagaarachchi, Adrian Szabo and Jean-Pierre Terreux. Many young visitors to the stall commented on their personal connections with Eddie Rice Camps in their home states, with one young man even spontaneously starting a big “Eddie Eddie Eddie!” chant to a typically rapturous response.
- In his role on the Festival’s InCounter subcommittee (responsible for 60 stallholders and the huge expo hall space), Adam Whitefield (Christian Brothers Regional Mission Team SA/WA) coordinated the “Justice Activity Centre” which involved key organisations facilitating a series of engaging and hands-on justice & advocacy activities. This included young people preparing hundreds of care packs for the homeless, the writing 150 letters to politicians advocating for the release of children from detention, the creation of 250 lolly bags with personal messages for children in detention, and the collection of 500 signatures advocating for climate justice.
- A key highlight was seeing our very own Caitlin Brown (ERCSA & Build the Bridge Volunteers) shine as one of the Festival’s three MCs. To witness her speak so passionately and confidently in front of 3000 people was truly a sight to behold!
- Another of our ERCSA/Build the Bridge Volunteers Maddie Kelly stole the show during the opening plenary with her beautiful and powerful spoken word piece on the importance of her faith, including the value in ‘mountaintop’ experiences and the need to follow the ‘restlessness’ in our hearts.
- Maddie also joined fellow Build the Bridge Volunteers Adrian Szabo, Cate Snell & Ada Snell to lead a panel session around the issues facing young asylum seekers and refugees in our community. The session was delivered through the lens of their involvement with vulnerable groups through their BTBV and formation opportunities. It was attended by over 400 people and incredibly well received.
Prior to the festival, Pope Francis himself sent a letter to delegates praying they would be “spirit-filled evangelisers who pray and work for the spread of the Gospel, the conversion of culture and the care of the poor and marginalised in society.”
It is our hope too, that whether it be expressed through our Edmund Rice Charism or elsewhere, our young people can accept the invitation to be (as Pope Francis’ calls it) “builders and craftsmen of the future which God is dreaming of for us and for our world”, and that they may indeed do so with “courage and joy in their hearts.”
Adam Whitefield – Christian Brothers Regional Mission Team (SA/WA)
The schools which were run by the province are now the responsibility of Edmund Rice Education Australia.
Our commitment to working with youth is still maintained.
The Province is also responsible for several large schools
Youth and Family Services, largely in education of those unable to attend a normal schools, are a high priority.
- Christchurch, St Thomas of Canterbury
- Oamaru, St Kevin's College