Each Brother is an open letter from Christ-a message written, not with ink but in the Spirit of the living God, with a faithful human heart to carry it!
Brothers are lay religious, who profess vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. They commit themselves to a life of ministry and prayer within the community.
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The Catholic Church has a detailed process to determine which individuals are recognized as saints. This process could take many years. Even before the process begins, there must be documented evidence that the candidate was considered an extraordinarily good person during his lifetime. This requires a tremendous amount of time in research.
In 1910, the Superior General of the brothers, J. C. Whitty, wrote to the Procurator General in Rome about what steps must be taken to begin the official process of having Edmund Rice declared "Venerable." He appointed Brother Mark Hill to obtain and research evidence from brothers and other people who remembered Edmund Rice. Their statements had to be written signed and sworn to as being true.
Most of Brother Hill's work was done after school hours and on weekends or vacations since he was still teaching during this time. He knew of many of the old brothers who had lived with Edmund Rice and he found former students of Brother Rice who could give their recollections of him. Some of the letters of Edmund Rice had been forged by his enemies, but before this was known, Superior General Whitty officially halted the process. However, the work that Brother Hill did was very important because it helped the Commission studying the Cause for Beatification for Brother Edmund Rice many years later.
Some years later, Brother William Cullen took up the work of Mark Hill. He kept extensive notes about Edmund Rice and the social history of Waterford and Callan during that time.
In 1954 A Jesuit, Father Baumann, a member of the congregation for the Causes of Saints, read a biography of Edmund Rice, and became convinced he was a candidate for sainthood. Application was made to the Holy See for Edmund Rice's case to be considered by the Congregation of Saints.
Bishop Colhalan, of the Diocese of Waterford where Edmund died, was named by Rome to open the Cause in 1956. Bishop Colhalan did not have the staff for this process and six years later Rome established an Ecclesiastical Court to examine the life of Edmund Rice for possible beatification. For seven years the Commission continued its work only to vote negatively that the Cause of Edmund Rice could go no further because of insufficient evidence and a question about his relationship with his superiors and his state of mental health. Edmund Rice was cleared of these charges when it was proved that the Founder's signature on some questionable letters was a forgery.
A new Historical Commission was appointed and in 1988 a book called Edmund Ignatius Rice (1762-1844) The Positio Super Virtuitibus" was completed and copies sent to the Cardinals and all members of the Congregation of Causes for the Saints. After a thorough examination of The Positio, the official readers decided that Brother Edmund Rice had lived a life of "heroic" virtue.
On April 2, 1993 Pope John Paul II bestowed the title "Venerable" on Edmund Rice and declared him a candidate for beatification.
A tribunal had been set up in Ireland in 1988 to investigate a possible miracle performed by the intercession of Brother Edmund Rice in 1976. A young man named Kevin Ellison, of Newry, Northern Ireland, age 19, had his appendix removed only to be followed by complications of gangrene. Further surgery was done but the doctors believed there was no hope of survival. Death would take place within 24 to 48 hours. A friend of the family, Brother Laserian O'Donnell, gave Kevin's parents a relic of Edmund Rice. Many friends prayed for a miracle through the intercession of Edmund Rise and a special Mass was offered for Kevin's recovery. All relics and religious articles belonging to other holy people were removed from Kevin's bed and only the Relic of Edmund Rice was placed there.
To everyone's surprise, Kevin survived the next day and after a further operation, he was able to return home after several weeks. More than 20 years after this, Kevin Ellison is alive and well and married with 3 children.
Every witness to the miracle was questioned and examined separately. Once this was completed and documented, the Tribunal sent their report to the Congregation of Saints in Rome. The Vatican sent the report of the Irish Tribunal to two Italian doctors in Rome for their opinion, which was positive. The material was then submitted to doctors of the Roman Medical Commission for their study and opinion. This process took five years before the Commission gave their approval that this was a miraculous cure.
The process was still not over. Now the theological commission of the Congregation of Saints began their investigation of see if the cure could be the work of Edmund Rise. Their decision was also positive and the Holy Father gave his approval to the miracle in 1995.
In Vatican City, on October 6, 1996 (152 years after the death of Edmund), Pope John Paul II, beatified Venerable Edmund Rice who is now known as Blessed Edmund Rice, a title he will keep until he is canonized. Kevin Ellison with his brother and sister were in Rome for the beatification of Edmund Rice and it was Kevin who presented the relic of Blessed Edmund to Pope John Paul II during the ceremonies in St. Peter's Square.
A second major cure is required before Blessed Edmund Rice can be called Saint Edmund Rice.
Narrative from Bergen Catholic High School's web site and reproduced here with permission.