Our Founder

Our founder, Blessed Edmund Rice, remains an important and inspirational figure in College life more than 200 years after he began his mission of education for all.

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Edmund was born into a relatively well-off Catholic family on 1 June 1762 in County Kilkenny, Ireland. He received a limited education under the restrictions imposed by the Penal laws on Irish Catholics before commencing work at his uncle's business in Waterford, providing supplies to ships and the British Navy and Army. The young Edmund swiftly gained a reputation for his commitment to achieving fair outcomes for all, which was a value that would remain important to him throughout his life.

With his career continuing to build his wealth, Edward married a local girl from a wealthy Waterford family, Mary Elliot. They had four happy years together before Mary died not long after giving birth to a daughter, also named Mary, in 1789, leaving Edmund and his step-sister to raise his daughter, who is believed to have lived with disabilities. Struggling with a broken heart for his beloved wife, his faith grew stronger, and he considered becoming a monk.

It was a pivotal point in Edward's spiritual development. Sorrow and suffering moved his heart to pity others. He became acutely aware of the poverty gripping Ireland and the desire for a country liberated from English rule. Wealthy beyond his dreams, his desire to help others and his deep faith prompted one of his good friends, Mary Power, to suggest that he become a missionary in his own town. She reminded him of what Nano Nagle was doing for poor girls in Cork city, and with this inspiration Edmund commenced his mission to provide education for boys living in poverty.

After starting classes in a stable in 1802, within a year he had built a school on the edge of the town. In this new building, with only a handful of helpers, Edmund cared for around 300 students, providing food, clothing and education aimed to break the cycle of poverty and create a solid foundation for careers in business and commerce, as well as a grounding in the Catholic faith.

Edmund's influence continued to grow as his innovative education techniques changed the lives of the poor in Waterford. His following grew too, and in 1820 the Christian Brothers religious order was established as a Congregation as an Apostolic Institute, giving them freedom from the local Bishop, only 12 years after the first Brothers took their vows.

After briefly visiting Australia in 1843, the Christian Brothers first established themselves in Australia in 1868, more than 20 years after Edmund's death. They rapidly grew across the nation, starting their first school in Perth on the corner of St George's Terrace and Victoria Avenue in 1894, before taking over the Fremantle Catholic Boys' School in 1901, which they renamed CBC Fremantle.

More than 150 years after his passing, Edmund was beatified by Pope John Paul II on 6 October 1996, earning him the title Blessed Edmund Rice.

His legacy lives on in the work of Christian Brothers around the globe, and through more than 50 Edmund Rice Education Australia schools across the nation.

Honouring our founder

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Sitting on a bench in the centre of the College Cloisters, 'Eddy', as he's known to many boys at the College, is a stunning bronze sculpture that provides a constant reminder of the impact each one of us can have on the world.

Crafted for more than a year by renowned Fremantle sculptor Greg James in his studio at J Shed, Edmund is dressed in a traditional cassock, reflecting the importance of faith in his life, with well-worn shoes indicating his life amongst the people. In his right hand he holds a small book titled 'The Life of Nano Nagle', which is a nod to the value he placed on the work of the founder of the Presentation Sisters. His left hand rests on a stack of four books, each bearing one of the four EREA Touchstones, as an ever-present reminder of what anchors our community in an ever-changing world and of the lasting worth of a holistic faith education.

During breaks, Eddy is never far from the action, always joined by boys eating their lunch or having a chat on his bench of Donnybrook standstone. His presence is felt throughout the Cloisters, as his spirit lives on through the College's work, both on campus and in the wider world.

At Eddy's feet is a spectacular, hand-crafted mosaic, produced by local artist Jenny Dawson. Each tile tells its own story, and together, they form an eye-catching account of the College's history. In the centre, swimming in sky blue swirls symbolising the College's proximity to the ocean and the port city of Fremantle, are the Indigenous symbols for each of the Touchstones, in recognition of the original custodians of the land on which the campus has stood for more than a century. The artwork is bordered by 32 tiles containing key moments in CBC's history, including photos of graduating classes, academic records and other documents from the archives.

Together, the sculpture and the mosaic are constant visual reminders of the centuries of history and tradition of our College, and the exciting future of tomorrow's gentlemen.