Christian Brothers Naas 1871 – 2021

Published on May 14, 2021

As I write these few words, the church today (Wednesday 5th May) celebrates the life and legacy of Blessed Edmund Rice, founder of the Christian Brothers, native of Waterford, committed Christian and devout Catholic. Following the death of his wife in 1789, he devoted himself to prayer and good works, and in particular to education of the poor in his home town of Waterford.
There began the legacy of education that we celebrate this Sunday, marking the sad departure of the Christian Brothers Community from Naas. A presence that began in 1871, when invited by the then parish priest Fr. Hughes. Over those 150 years, generations of boys have benefited from the dedicated service of the brothers to education. The Ireland of 1871 was very different to the one we experience today, the struggle then for freedom and independence was a recurring aspiration. A downtrodden people, where education was the preserve of the wealthy and privileged. We owe a debt of gratitude for the dedicated service and the generous commitment of brothers who down through the years provided that education.
While we mark this week with our local community of Brothers; PJ, John Paul, Clement and Michael, and the positive contribution made to our society and local place. We acknowledge too that we priests, sisters and brothers are part of human enterprise, divinely inspired. In that human space and experience there have been times of darkness. This current generation of church people strive to acknowledge those wrongs and are daily committed to the task of healing and renewal.
The parish is local, and today we celebrate, acknowledge and recognise the generosity and selfless dedication of the brothers here in Naas. The Christian Brothers and the schools they set up have been indispensable partners in the task of building our town and parish. It is true to say that the Christian Brother Order was the key stone in the Irish Education System. That education and legacy is now in the safe and capable hands of a whole new generation of teachers who continue the ethos and values of Blessed Edmund Rice.
Provision of education has been one aspect of the work. In our parish it is unknown the countless, unseen acts of kindness and generosity performed by the brothers. If I may single out one member of the community, namely Brother Michael. Michael has lived among us for 29 years. He himself is the very embodiment of that goodness. His pastoral work around the parish, undertaken quietly, has brought solace and comfort to many.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The closure of the monastery on the Friary Road is a milestone, indeed a sad one, the closing of a long, rich and varied chapter. Today we think of those Brothers who served in Naas and are laid to rest locally. On this Sunday, we wish Brothers: PJ, John Paul, Clement and Michael every blessing, we express heartfelt gratitude.
We, the priests and people of Naas, thank you for your warmth, your support, your kind welcome and hospitality. And we pray that God go with ye, as you take leave of Naas. Your contribution locally will be remembered as integral to the history of this town and parish.
May God bless you and keep you and May God hold each of you in the palm of His hand.

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