The Heart of Being Brother


    It was two hundred years after our story had begun. It was time to pause in gratitude for the life of Edmund and the life of the Congregation. But it was a time when new wine was bursting out of old wine skins; the comfortable securities and stabilities of an earlier time had passed.
    Such was the time we gathered for the Chapter of 2002. Over land and over sea we came, Christian Brothers from all around the globe and, for a time, our friends from the Presentation Brothers and the Edmund Rice network, men and women alike. And as we gathered, we started to talk with each other about all that had been happening among us, our joys and our pain. Candles of good news emerged, and we found joy in each other and in our companions wh assured us that we were not alone in the dark.
    What we came to see was that the breaking open of our stories, of our simple humanity, was profound prayer. As we got in touch with our fractured humanity, we found ourselves touching divinity. Suddenly we recognized who it was that had been in our midst all along, that burned at the heart of our stories and our experience. All these years we Christian Brothers had prayed the words, “Live Jesus in our hearts.” How obvious it now seemed.
    The breakthrough moments were, as always, fleeting, but they were moments to live by. The key had been lying before us all along, in the very word by which we are named: brother. In the intimacy of sharing as brothers our search for meaning in the crumbs and fragments of our stories, together we found God present in our midst. In our listening for God, we had discovered a shared route as Christian Brothers, to replace our tendency to travel on individual paths. We had discovered anew that our way to God as Christian Brothers, our distinctive way of living and loving, was to take literally the meaning of relating as brothers. We had started our discovery of what it could mean — and what it would cost — to truly live Eucharist.
    What had we discovered? Nothing that was not already written in our Constitutions, and nothing that we had not already glimpsed individually in our best moments as Christian Brothers. Quite simply, our hearts had been re-orientated by the experience of being opened to each other. And, being opened, we found ourselves turning instinctively to identify with the pains and burdens felt in our whole earth community. Our hearts burning with this new energy, we felt a renewed fire for mission.
    Like the disciples of that first Emmaus walk, we had known what it was to have our hearts burn within us, and we had found an energy that enabled us to turn around. Not away from the Four Directions of the 1996 Chapter, but away from our lack of confidence in the God who was leading us that way. We saw the need to deepen the spirituality out of which we live those four directions. And so our move to the margins has become reaffirmed with a strong prophetic call to engage in the quest for justice and to constantly critique our education ministries. Our internationality is expressed in a prophetic letting-go of old wineskins and moving towards a radical restructuring. Our growth through fragility is evident in a deepened consciousness of the need for healing and reconciliation. And our view of the Edmund Rice network is advancing towards an even deeper appreciation of what is unfolding and of the gift of our companions in Edmund’s spirit.
    Our experience invites others to deepen their own Emmaus journey and to make their own ongoing discovery of the same gift. Our conversations arising from this experience signal something new that is beginning among us, but those conversations need to carry on and involve all of us. What happened at the Chapter can also happen in any gathering where we are prepared to enter the same eucharistic rhythm by trusting each other with our stories, starting just with the fragments of any ordinary day in our lives.




Deepening the Spirituality of Being Brother


What have we discovered?
To be a Christian Brother is to receive a precious gift which invites us daily to walk the Emmaus way into the unfolding mystery of our quest for God.

What are our Heart Decisions?

Healing and Reconciliation – A Healing and a Call


What have we discovered?
As Brothers we are called to accept as gift the growth that comes through facing our pain and loss in a troubled world and suffering planet.  As we learn to offer and receive healing and reconciliation, we find our wounded hearts bear within them the hope of new life and a renewed sense of joy.

What are our Heart Decisions?

Seeking New Brothers


What have we discovered?
Rekindling our efforts to seek new members will in turn transform the heart of the Congregation and rediscover the precious gift of Brotherhood.

What are our Heart Decisions?

Educating the Minds and Hearts of the Young


What have we discovered?
We acknowledge the immense contribution over the past two hundred years that brothers and their colleagues have made to the liberating education of the young.  There is joy and gratitude in the development of greater shared responsibility among partners in the school ministry.

What are our Heart Decisions?

The Edmund Rice Network – The Unfolding Story


What we have discovered?
The development of the many expressions of the Edmund Rice charism fills us with joy and brings new life and energy to the Congregation.

What are our Heart Decisions?

A Prophetic Call to a Quest for Justice


What have we discovered?
Through the dislocation that comes from regular contact with poor and marginalized people, our hearts are transformed as we deepen our shared reflection of this experience in the light of the Gospel.

What are our Heart Decisions?

New Wineskins for New Wine


What have we discovered?
Restructuring is an urgent call to transform minds and hearts.  It facilitates new life in mission and ministry, promotes prophetic religious living, and ensures a redistribution of resources in a spirit of fraternity.

What are our Heart Decisions?


Live, Jesus, in our hearts forever.




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