This page is intended to clarify terms used in Christian Brother conversations and documents. It is meant for use by Christian Brothers and others associated with them.
Associates – people who choose to enter more deeply into the spirit and mission inherent in the charism of Blessed Edmund Rice. Formal membership in the Associate Program is characterized by application and acceptance into the program, an understanding of the life and charism of Edmund, some participation in mission activity and spiritual development, and affiliation with the Christian Brothers and the rest of the Edmund Rice Network.
Board of Directors – the principal governing body of the separately-incorporated schools of the province. A board’s major responsibilities include supporting the mission of the school, fiscal supervision, advancement, and retaining and assessing the head of school. Boards chiefly use policy formation and strategic planning to fulfill these responsibilities. Each board is a board of limited jurisdiction.
Board of Limited Jurisdiction – a board that has policy and planning authority, but certain powers pertaining to mission, finances, leadership, and other areas are reserved by the Members of the Corporation, the (arch)diocese, or other public juridic person. Many schools, most hospitals, and other private institutions of the Catholic Church are governed by some kind of board of limited jurisdiction.
Board of Trustees – see "Members of the Corporation."
Called & Gifted – a program that promotes mission effectiveness, introduces participants to the charism of the Congregation, especially as articulated in the Essential Elements of an Edmund Rice Christian Brother Education, and of Blessed Edmund Rice, and orients participants to their special role in the mission of the Church and the Congregation. There is a Called & Gifted workshop designed for school ministers and another designed for board directors. In its infancy, Called & Gifted II is for continuing formation of school ministers.
Canon Law – the laws of the Church; the chief governing document of the Church. Canon Law was last revised in 1983.
CFC – initials used after a brother’s name that identify him as a member of the Congregation of Christian Brothers, which in Latin means Congregatio Fratrum Christianorum.
Chapter – a meeting the brothers hold every four to six years where the brothers assemble to seek divine guidance in charting the future of the province (see Constitution #94). A chapter “is fundamentally a religious experience (Constitution #95)” and may result in specific mandates, endorse committee or leadership recommendations, or celebrate the blessings of the province. Provinces may conduct open chapters, which invite the attendance of all the brothers of the province. “For an open chapter to be valid, the number of participants must be a majority of the members of the province. (Statute #107.3)” The congregation also holds chapters, attended by elected representatives from around the congregation.
Charism – a specific and unique gift to the Church. When it is said that the brothers and others in the Edmund Rice Network share in, are inspired by, grow in, or even promote the charism of Blessed Edmund Rice, they are acknowledging the specific and unique gift Edmund has been to the Church. The Church officially acknowledged the charism of Edmund with his beatification in October of 1996. While the followers of Edmund make continued efforts to discover or articulate his charism, they do not invent or shape it. The congregation and in fact the entire Edmund Rice Network also have charisms in that they too have been unique gifts to the Church.
Christian Brothers – the title, shortened from Congregation of Christian Brothers, that most often identifies the congregation or its members. In the United States, the title is sometimes confusing as it identifies two distinct communities of religious brothers: the Congregation of Christian Brothers (who use the initials CFC after their names) and the Brothers of the Christian Schools (who use FSC). The Congregation of Christian Brothers is sometimes identified as the Edmund Rice Christian Brothers.
Christian Brothers’ Association – persons, both living and deceased, entered on special rolls and who enjoy remembrance in Masses, prayers, and work of the Christian Brothers.
Congregation – a world-wide community of religious brothers known as the Congregation of Christian Brothers. Members of the Congregation, called “brothers” or “Christian Brothers,” live community life, profess vows, and serve the Church in a variety of ministries. The Congregation was founded by Blessed Edmund Rice in 1802. There are many congregations, institutes, and orders in the church whose members are vowed men and/or women who adhere to the charism of their founders and the Constitutions or rule of their communities. The Congregation is a public juridic person, according to canon law.
Congregation Leadership Team (CLT) – leadership of the congregation consisting of the congregation leader and four assistants. The CLT is elected by the congregation chapter, governs for a term of six years, and is headquartered in Rome.
Constitutions – a rule of life that guides and directs the life of the congregation and its members. The Constitutions are formulated by a congregation chapter and approved by the Vatican Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. The Sacred Scriptures and the Constitutions are a brother’s principal resources in his efforts to fulfill his commitment to the congregation. Others in the Edmund Rice Network also find guidance and inspiration in the Constitutions.
Corporate Commitment – a commitment by the province to a mission site to provide brothers to staff that site and, when possible, to replace brothers who leave that site. This is different from an individual brother missioned by the province to minister independently.
Corporate Stance – applied to the province: a belief, position, or conviction assumed by the province as a whole. Normally, a religious community takes a corporate stance on social issues for the purpose of promoting justice especially for the poor and marginalized. Taking a corporate stance often involves controversy and risk, even if only a public relations risk among those the province serves. When the province takes a corporate stance it will involve public announcements, educational efforts, political involvement, and/or other activities depending on the nature of the stance. Though the province can take a corporate stance without one hundred percent concurrence among the brothers, it does need full knowledge, reasonable consensus, meaningful participation, and prayerful support. Apart from the province, the Province Leadership Team may take a corporate stance on its own. Such a stance would be identified as one taken by leadership rather than by the province as a whole.
Development – a management strategy that enables Catholic institutions to achieve their mission through a program of planning, public relations, and charitable giving.
Edmund Rice Network – individuals and groups who are inspired by the vision of Blessed Edmund Rice and legitimately witness to the power and vitality of Edmund’s charism. The Edmund Rice Network includes all vowed members of the congregation and men and women of all ages from different backgrounds and walks of life who have come to understand and cherish Edmund’s charism.
Edmundians – an organized group of men who once served as members of the congregation; former brothers.
Educational Services, Office of – a program that provides service, programs and resources to enhance the ministry of Catholic education in the tradition of Blessed Edmund Rice and the Christian Brothers.
Essential Elements of an Edmund Rice Christian Brother Education – The core values of the educational ministry of the Christian Brothers. These Essential Elements serve to guide schools in their efforts to maintain their identity as Catholic schools and to foster the values of Christian Brother education and therefore help to assure mission effectiveness.
Evangelization – proclaiming the reign of God and witnessing to the Gospel through teaching, participating in the life of the sacraments, and loving one another. “As Christians we are called to participate in the saving mission of Jesus. Evangelization is the privileged task of every follower of Christ. (Constitution #24)” “Since the entire Church is missionary by its nature and since the work of evangelization is to be viewed as a fundamental duty of the people of God, all the Christian faithful, conscious of their own responsibility in this area, are to assume their own role in missionary work. (Canon 781)”
Facere et Docere – the motto of the Congregation of Christian Brothers. It is Latin for “To Do and To Teach.”
Formation – a lifelong process of growing to full human maturity. Formation for Christian Brother life and mission occurs in community. “The period from initial discernment and response through the years to perpetual profession is referred to as ‘initial formation.’ The ongoing involvement in discerning the ways of God both in daily life and through formal programs is referred to as ‘continuing formation.’” (Constitution #56)
The Heart of Being Brother – a vision offered to the Congregation by the 2002 Congregation Chapter. The Heart of Being Brother invites the brothers and the entire Edmund Rice Network on a new Emmaus journey of renewal.
Interlink – a program that offers staff formation opportunities to the schools of the province in light of their common concerns. The program also brings together the province school leaders (members, board chairs, presidents, principals, director of education) each year for the purpose of confronting issues that face all schools and boards. Promoting a province identity is a goal of both components of Interlink.
Jubilee – a special celebration that commemorates the anniversary of a brother’s entrance into the Congregation. Common jubilee celebrations commemorate 25, 50, and 60 years as a brother. The Church also uses the term jubilee to identify a special year of solemnity or reconciliation. The year 2000 was the last jubilee year proclaimed by the pope.
Margins – the sector of society that has been alienated, through poverty and injustice, from the benefits enjoyed by most of society. The call to work with people at the margins motivates the followers of Blessed Edmund to respond to the unique needs and celebrate the special gifts of marginalized people.
Members of the Corporation (called "Board of Trustees" in New Jersey and New York) – the tier of governance of the separately incorporated schools that reserves certain powers that generally assure that Boards of Directors operate according to the mission, hold certain financial and asset controls, and retain some say in the appointment of school leaders. The Members represent the public juridic person required for Catholic institutional sponsorship by Canon Law and are made up of brothers on the Province Leadership Team. This level of governance is called Trustees in many of the schools in the Eastern part of the North American Province.
Ministry – the works of the Church; each individual work of the Church. There are many ministries in the Church, all work for the evangelization of the People of God. The brothers of the North American Province participate in various ministries.
Mission – a call to foster the awareness of Jesus Christ and the Church. As apostolic religious, Christian Brothers “... are missioned by the Church for the evangelization of youth, and especially for the education and care of the materially poor. The mission is expressed through a variety of ministries. In each ministry we respond creatively to emerging needs in a changing world.” (Constitution #24).
Mission Effectiveness – applied to the province and its mission sites: the aggregate of policies and practices that assure Catholic identity, evangelization, and adherence to core values of the Christian Brothers. A four-year theology requirement, Called & Gifted workshops, and brothers appointed to boards are among the many activities that contribute to mission effectiveness. The main purposes of the Essential Elements of an Edmund Rice Christian Brother Education are to articulate core educational values of the Christian Brothers and to serve as a major influence in shaping mission effectiveness.
Mission Statement – a brief statement indicating who a group is, what it does, and how it serves. It is oriented to present reality and generally is reviewed every three to five years. (Compare “Vision Statement.”)
Outreach – a type of social service which includes involvement in activities designed to educate participants and assist those on the margins of society. Outreach activities in schools may include such activities as serving at soup kitchens, tutoring at a homeless shelter, and conducting food drives for the needy.
Province – a division or district of the congregation with its own government, policies, and traditions; but it is joined to the rest of the congregation through the Constitutions, the statutes, shared traditions, and growth in the charism of Edmund Rice and the Congregation. The full name of the North American Province is the Edmund Rice Christian Bothers North America, and it serves in parish, health care, youth, retreat, volunteer, and (chiefly) educational ministries. Though the province is specifically defined by a regional government and the religious brothers associated with it, colleagues of the brothers claim some allegiance to the province through their work as co-ministers. Most religious congregations and orders are divided into provinces or regions. Like the Congregation, the North American Province is a public juridic person.
Province Leadership Team (PLT) – leadership of the province consisting of the province leader and councillors. The PLT is responsible for the administration, pastoral care, and visioning of the Edmund Rice Christian Brothers North America, a province of the Congregation of Christian Brothers. The PLT is appointed by the Congregation Leadership Team (CLT) following a consultative vote of the brothers of the province.
Public Juridic Person – an aggregate “of persons or things which (is) so constituted by the competent ecclesiastical authority that, within the limits set for (it) in the name of the Church, (it fulfills) a proper function entrusted to (it) in view of the common good (Canon 116.1),” and is “ordered towards a purpose congruent with the mission of the Church and which transcends the purpose of the individuals that make (it) up (Canon 114.1).” A public juridic person is like a corporation that acts in the name of and by the authority of the Church to carry out the Church’s mission of evangelization. Furthermore, all work of the Church must happen under the auspices of a public juridic person, usually a religious community or an (arch)diocese. In other words, no institution may call itself Catholic without sponsorship by a public juridic person. The public juridic person of many schools associated with the Christian Brothers is the Congregation of Christian Brothers and, as its local component, the Edmund Rice Christian Brothers North American. The Members of the Corporation, all Christian Brothers, for each school fulfill their fiduciary responsibilities to the school as well as their canonical role by assuring the Catholic identity and mission of each school.
Religious Brothers – lay men of the Church who profess the simple vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience; who uniquely witness to the inherent value of religious community life; and who participate in the various ministries of the Church. The members of the Congregation of Christian Brothers are all religious brothers.
Sponsorship – Institutional sponsorship by a religious community or by an (arch)diocese is without a common definition except that it generally describes a “relationship” between the institution and the community or diocese. That relationship can range from specifically-defined control with some characteristics of civil ownership to an agreement on mission influence and support.
Statutes – ordinances that parallel and bring some specificity to the Constitutions. Unless statements of Church law, statutes are decreed and modified by a chapter of the congregation.
Toir – a word in Irish meaning “search” or “quest;” an international program for members of the spiritual families of Edmund Rice and Nano Nagle, founder of the Presentation Sisters. The program replaces Trasna, also an international gathering.
Two-Tiered Governance – a structure of corporate governance that operates under two distinct tiers: the Members of the Corporation (or Board of Trustess) and the Board of Directors. Certain governance powers are reserved to the Members, some are shared by both tiers, and some are granted to the Board.
Visitation – a visit by a member of the Province Leadership Team or congregational leader to every brother to “foster unity and fraternal love in the Congregation, to encourage the brothers in their vocation and to offer them an opportunity to reflect upon their life together. As an exercise in accountability, the process enables the visitor to assess how fully the Congregation is fulfilling its obligation to the brothers and each brother to the Congregation.” (Constitutions, #85)
Vision Statement – a brief statement indicating the growth and renewal a group wishes to experience. A vision statement is future oriented. (Compare “Mission Statement”)
Volunteers – men and women who join with the brothers in their ministry for a specified period of time. Typically, the volunteer would commit to a year’s service and would commit to a year’s service and would live and pray with the brothers. The Christian Brothers sponsor a volunteer program.