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Edmund Rice

The following films have been produced by various Edmund Rice communities. They often feature Br Philip Pinto CFC, the former Superior General of the Christian Brothers and help us understand the Edmund Rice charism for today’s world.

Film 1: Address by Br Philip Pinto to the school community of Colegio Stella Maris in Montevideo, Lima, Peru. In this address Br Philip invites us to reflect, “What is at the heart of an Edmund Rice school?”


Film 2: The Edmund Rice Movement at work

This film introduces us to various members of the Edmund Rice Movement as they engage in mission. Many are volunteers on Edmund Rice Camps, others have volunteered in majority world countries but all have been touched by the vision and the heart of Edmund Rice.


Film 3: Justice and Advocacy Work

In this film Mr Phil Glendenning, Director of the Edmund Rice Centre in Sydney reflects on what we have learnt from experience about how to work effectively in Justice and Advocacy Work. Phil reflects on the value and importance of reciprocal and respect filled relationship and being positive and ‘for’ something rather than negative and against. We are called to be people seeking solutions in the Social Justice field. These solutions need to be creative and relational and based upon good information and research. In all of this, if we are to be effective as change makers – we need to be in partnership with other like minded people of the heart. All good change responds to an ennobling vision. Phil Glendenning articulates a vision quoting Pope John Paul II, “where the needs of the poor take priority over the wants of the rich!”


Film 4: An Experience of God!

Br. Philip Pinto – “Where does someone get courage like that?”

In this film Br. Philip Pinto asks us “Where did Edmund Rice get his courage and inspiration from?”

“We’re here today because of Edmund Rice, two years back I was in Ireland when they were exhuming the body of Blessed Edmund because they wanted to study the skull and to try to use modern technology to discover, “What would he have looked like when he died?” And we have scientists who are able to do that now. And so when the coffin was opened and I saw the bones that were there and I put my hands in and I picked up the skull, and I looked at it – I did not say, “Alas poor Yorick [Hamlet]!” I looked at that and I said, “Do you know the trouble you have caused me?” But I also wondered what quirk of fortune was it that brought me from India right across to Ireland – and brings me here again –  one person – and I look at his life – someone who at the age of forty deciding to leave everything that he knew and take on something that he knew nothing about! And to start off an enterprise – to sell everything and then do it!

There was no turning back and enough people told him that what he was doing was foolish – and I keep asking myself, “Where does someone get courage like that? Where does someone get courage like that?” And the answer is an experience of God! Nothing else will change a person’s life except an experience of God. You may use all the other terms you want instead of the word ‘God’, use anything else you want – but at the heart of it – is a spirit that flows through our Universe that almost demands from us a response!



Film 5: Edmund Rice model for all. Edmund Rice Feast day, May 5th.

“Fifteen years ago I was in Rome in St. Peter’s Square at the Beatification of Edmund Rice. And I realised at that moment that what was happening was Edmund Rice being taken from the Christian Brothers and presented to the whole world; he was now a model for the world to imitate. I felt a great pride at that moment. And as I looked around at the crowd I saw people from all over the world; England and Ireland, North America – that is the USA and Canada, New Zealand and Australia, Sierra Leone, Zambia, South Africa, Kenya, India and a number of countries in Latin America, Papua New Guinea – and what amazed me was that people from all over the world had gathered to celebrate with this man. And it dawned on me that when one lives life for others the whole world sits up and notices it. And as we celebrate the feast of Blessed Edmund – the 5th of May – I ask you, what are you celebrating? You belong to an Edmund Rice school – but that does not necessarily mean that you are an Edmund Rice person! So what must you do to be an Edmund Rice person? I think the answer is with Edmund himself. He lived in such a way that his heart was broken open for people – we are told that he opened his whole heart to the poor – compassion – was at the heart of what Edmund was about. And compassion means opening my heart so that someone else comes into the centre – and I am not in the centre of my life; someone else is at the centre of my life. When was the last time someone was at the centre of your life? When was the last time you moved away from the centre and let someone else in? And if you really want to celebrate the feast, then I invite you over the coming days – even today, for one moment, for one experience, for one situation – put someone else at the centre, see who needs you. You belong to a group that is much bigger than the school – the Edmund Rice Network spreads all over the world, in over thirty countries, in all of the continents; can you open your heart large enough and big enough – to allow people from other parts of the world to occupy that central space – so that their needs come before your own! When you do that – then you are celebrating Edmund Rice day!”


Film 6: Words of Br Philip Pinto cfc at the opening of the EREA Congress, Melbourne, Australia.

Philip Pinto – Welcome to Congress.

Philip: So welcome everyone to this gathering. I know that you have come from busy schedules but the very fact that you have taken time to be here says much about your commitment – and I thank you for being here. I would hope that these few days would be times of great consolation for you as you hear one another speak about your own efforts in helping to allow our children to glimpse an alternative view of what our world might be like. I know that my own prayers are with you and those of my Brothers. And I know also that society expects much from what happens here. So go for it!

Philip – What would be your hope for the Catholic School in today’s world?

Philip: When I think of a Catholic school I think of a place where the whole school family, the teachers, the parents, the students and all the ancillary staff – where everyone is empowered and enabled to experience God the way Jesus experienced God. And by that I mean – what are the opportunities that you present to your children with so that this might happen – so that they might experience God differently …..and when I speak about God I’m not speaking about some amorphous, other worldly entity – I’m speaking about that mystery that surrounds us, that we are immersed in life. I keep saying that this world is God’s agenda and what is happening in this world is what matters to God. And what matters to God matters to us! And so the more our children are aware of what is happening in this world – that is what this is about! And they can see that they are their brothers and sisters keeper and they have a responsibility towards one another and if our staff in our schools can give them that we have gone a big way towards doing something different!

Philip – What is it that you want Catholic Schools in the Edmund Rice Tradition to be known for?

Philip: I think that part of that would be, “How does a school show that it is tolerant?” How does a school show that everyone is included? There is no exclusion in it. Because I think that these two elements, tolerance and inclusion, in a world where we are suspicious of one another, suspicious of difference – that is a great alternative value to give children. Can we, even the way we relate to one another as staff, and therefore people at this gathering, can we open our minds and our hearts so that everyone feels included? Can we create during these days here a safe space – so we can speak freely and truthfully and honestly and openly to one another? Children learn by example. If we have that in our hearts our children will have something to imitate! And I think that these are the two great values that our world needs today – and–for Australian society – My God! Isn’t that what it is all about? We are so scared of the outsider! We are so scared of people who are different from us! And I think this is where our schools need to come in and say, “This is what we stand for; tolerance, inclusion – everyone is part of the family, everyone eats at the same table!”

Philip – What is the gift of ‘the other?’

Philip: In India we say, “The visitor is God!” The visitor is God and really it is not that different from our whole Judaic Christian tradition. The person who comes from outside tells me things about myself that I never knew. That is what God does. God tells me something about myself that I never knew! And God is constantly opening myself to the wonder of who I am. And the visitor does that, the stranger does that! So when I see the stranger and I see something different, rather than being threatened – can I have that heart that can welcome it because it is telling me something about who the human is. God is the other! God is the other!

Philip – What is the link between presence and compassion?

Philip: Presence – it is the ability to be in a place and to feel a part of that place – not to be scared of it – but to be a part of that place, and when I’m a part of a place I’m not threatened by it, I can accept what is going on – and I can accept what is happening in myself too. Compassion comes out of realising that the other is not a stranger – but the brother and sister that I have not met yet! And getting  that relationship going. Everything is about relationships – our whole life is about relationships! The planet is about relationships – and we are beginning to realise that more and more today. I would love us during these days to deepen that sense of relationship! Try to get to know the other people who are here! Don’t just look upon this as an intellectual exercise that you have to go through. Try to enter into the spirit of what is happening. And I believe that if that happens something deep will take place!

What you are going to experience here is more important than anything else you are going to learn. What you are going to experience in your relationships with one another. I believe that there is something beautiful that can happen and in that way we become part of a whole network, family – an Edmund Rice family. Edmund was a family man and that is the one great gift that he bestowed on his followers. Relationships – so take that with you and fly!

Philip  – What do you believe is the greatest challenge facing our schools and our Church today?

Philip: If I am thinking of something now – it may come from left wing really! It is “What am I concerned about that what might happen in our Edmund Rice schools?” What might happen? Christianity is an alternative way of living life! And we have to always remember that – it is an alternative! But the great temptation to an alternative community because it wants to feel accepted – the great temptation is to imitate the dominant culture – and our Church does that! Our Church has moved away from being alternative – to being main-stream. Constantine – God rest him – did that to us. And we have never let go of that – and religious people hold the alternative – they are meant to hold the alternative – but again, even for religious people the temptation is to become part of the main-stream – so Congregations want to be strong and independent and so on – and so the great temptation for schools in the Edmund Rice Tradition would be to take on the image of the Public Schools, to be better and bigger than the Public Schools and to forget the alternative voice! And this is what you are here about today! And always remember that once you forget that and once you have become main-stream you have forgotten it – it is the lesson that has come to us throughout Scripture. The Prophets in the Old Testament came because Kings came into being. Israel said to Samuel, “Give us a King!” And when Samuel goes to Yahweh, Yahweh says, “It is not YOU they have rejected – it is me, they do not want my reign – which is an alternative reign – not to be like the great nations, but to be a special nation – but they have rejected that and they want to be like the great nations.” And they lost. And if you as Edmund Rice schools want to go the same way like the other Public Schools, better than them, bigger than them, stronger than them – you are going to lose! I am not saying that you don’t have the same standards – but you have different values. And the values must dictate who you are!

I assure you of my prayers! I assure you of the prayers and good wishes of the Christian Brothers as you undertake this – but know that God is with you if you hold God and keep this image and this vision as central to you. God bless you all!

Melbourne Australia

September 7th. 2012.



Film 7: Trocaire Lecture: Br Philip Pinto. ‘Who is my neighbour? Building a civilisation of love in an unequal world.’ 2013 Ireland.



Film 8: We need the poor. Br Philip Pinto cfc reflecting on the call for the Christian Brothers today.

“To get back to the whole idea of going out to people rather than staying in and protecting what has always being ours. That is what I’d hope for – much more missionary spirit – the whole focus and future of Religious Life, not just for us Christian Brothers – but right across the board – has been to reclaim that missionary zeal, that apostolic spirit and this is part of it. I believe it is once again finding out who we are supposed to be, and not just being a product of history. Not just doing things that we always did, but trying to go back to the roots of who we are. Forty years back this whole movement began – and it has reached this point of our history today. Forty years back was the Council, the Second Vatican Council, and this is reclaiming who we are – our roots, our charism, and the spirit of our Founder. Going back to the discipleship of Jesus of Nazareth what Jesus was all about and that is what we are trying to do again. If I take that charism statement – of Edmund opening his whole heart to Christ present and appealing to him in the poor, I would see that as the touchstone for Christian Brothers – and for that I have to be with the poor. And when I speak about the poor I really mean the materially poor. There are lots of different kinds of poverty in our world – but the materially poor have all the types of poverty – one has only to scratch the surface to see their disillusionment and their lack of faith and everything else that’s there. So WE NEED THE POOR, WE NEED THE POOR to evangelise us – to show us this new face of Christ.  The other thing that we need is what do we need to do to open our WHOLE HEART, it is not a part of my heart that I give – it is my whole heart.  It is total, complete – I don’t keep any part back for myself – and that is very hard. And we grow into that over life.  What are the sorts of things that open my heart to the poor? One of them thing is  – being there with them – I cannot do it from a distance.

I have to be, like the women, be there at the foot of the Cross, I have to be at the foot of the Cross to see the dying Christ, and I have to be there with the poor to see their pain and feel their pain.  If I don’t feel that my heart will not be open. And so around the world we have encouraged Brothers to move out – and not just Brothers, we have encouraged Heads of our Institutions, we have encouraged young boys and girls who work with us to move out and immerse themselves, even for a time, in the lives of the poor – and God does the rest.”