Tuesday 5th May is the feast day of Blessed Edmund Rice.
In normal circumstances we would have a prayer service for all year groups and some fund raising events for Zambia and other charities to mark the feast day.
This year we will celebrate the life of Blessed Edmund from home.
We should remember the enormity of his legacy to the education of the vast numbers Irish children who were in poverty and had no access to education as free education was not available widely until the mid 1970s .
Edmund Rice was the founder of both the Presentation Brothers and the Christian brothers who have been at the forefront of education of boys of all ages in Ireland for 250 years.
Our own st Mary’ s CBGS celebrated 150 years of Education in Belfast in 2016. Many of the world renowned doctors ,dentists lawyers and scientists who are so necessary in all our lives today have been educated at St Mary’s.
Dr. Gabriel Scally and Professor Paddy Mallon who are at the forefront of dealing with the present Covid -19 were educated at St Mary’s.
The legacy of Blessed Edmund has spread throughout the world as Presentation Brothers and Christian Brothers schools now operate all over the world in many countries especially among the poorest in the developing world.
The PowerPoint attached will recall for you the life story of Blessed Edmund whom we are celebrating today. Please spend a few minutes recalling his life and thank God for his compassion and his vision which has touched the lives of all who have passed through St Mary’s.
Thought for the day
Ask yourself what motivated Edmund Ignatius Rice, a forty year old reasonably comfortable and successful business man, widowed and father of a disabled child and someone with no particular background in education? Why did he give up what little comfort he had in life to dedicate the next four or five decades to educating those who did not just have little money but who also had few dreams as to how they could get out of the poverty in which they found themselves? Why did he set himself to teach young children who were thought of as being unreachable, unteachable and not worth anything but condemnation?
Edmund Ignatius Rice didn’t do what he did because it was the easy thing to do or would gain him popularity. He did it because he believed that it was the right thing to do. He saw a tough job that needed to be done and he set himself to doing it. He didn’t say “What would be hard”, but “how do we think differently and find a new way of doing the hard thing.” Working for true justice is rarely a simple or a popular choice – here or abroad. People will criticise your motives and your intentions. People will tell you to be realistic. I suppose that one of the signs that you are getting it right is when people criticise, not your ideas but you. Edmund Rice might ask you, not to do what he did – because circumstances are different in 2020 in Belfast. But he would ask you whether your education in all of your subjects had helped you to leave school with a passion for doing the right thing, especially when it isn’t easy and may very well be seen as not in the interests of your interest group. He would ask whether you prefer to be unhappy with the right questions rather than happy with the wrong answers. He would ask you whether are prepared to take the risk of being prophets rather than just keen to sell your soul for the sake of making profit. Do the right thing because it is the right thing to do. Ask how you can make things better for others and not just how to make things better for yourself. That is a big ask. But only the right thing is worth doing.