The Patrician Brothers, or Brothers of Saint Patrick, are an Ireland-based Roman Catholic congregation for the religious and literary education of youth and the instruction of the faithful in Christian piety.
In 1788, Daniel Delany became Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin. The Roman Catholic Relief Act 1791 (31 George III. c. 32) reduced some of the political, educational, and economic disabilities that applied to Roman Catholics. It admitted Catholics to the practice of law, permitted the exercise of their religion, and the existence of their schools. Delany was all too aware that due to the effects of the penal laws, much of the Catholic population was illiterate and poor, and suffered from poverty, hunger and drunkenness. Delany saw education in the basic faith and traditions of the Catholic Church as a basic step.
In 1783, Daniel Delany, established the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament at his parish in Tullow. Two years later, he founded the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine. When he set up a Sunday school, he chose his catechists from the members of the confraternities. Later, he offered them the opportunity to form a religious institute.
The Congregation of the Brothers of St. Patrick was founded by Delany, on the feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in 1808. The four founding members were Patrick McMahon (Brother John Baptiste), Richard Fitzpatrick (Brother Bernard), Ambrose Dawson (Brother Joseph) and Maurice Cummins (Brother John Evangelist). Under the personal instruction of the bishop, the congregation was established as a diocesan institution.
In succeeding years, branches were established in other dioceses of Ireland. Around 1846, they were in charge of a trade school near Baltimore, Maryland. The Brothers were invited by several Australian and Indian bishops to erect schools these countries. Several foundations were made, among them those of Sydney, to which archdiocese the Brothers were invited by Cardinal Moran; and that of Madras in India in 1875, undertaken at the request of Bishop Stephen Fennelly.
In 1885 the Brothers made application to the Holy See for the approval of the congregation, to constitute a central governance board and to establish a common novitiate. Sounding opinions from the bishops in whose dioceses the Brothers were established, Pope Leo XIII provisionally approved the congregation for five years by a Rescript dated 6 January 1888, and, on 8 September 1893, he issued a decree of final confirmation. This included approving their rules and constitution, the facilities and powers necessary for their congregation, constituting India and Australia separate provinces. The governance of the order, which had functioned as separate communities, were united. The superior general four assistants governs the congregation, at the mother-house, Tullow, County Carlow, Ireland, where there is a novitiate and a house of studies.
A general chapter of the Patrician communities assembles every six years. As a result of the confirmation of the Institute, the Brothers could extend their congregation in Ireland, and open new colleges, schools and orphanages. For example, in 1948, the Brothers of Saint Patrick order was established in Midway City, California as the United States foundation and headquarters of Patrician Brothers.
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As of 2017, there were 167 brothers serving in eight countries. The scope of their work, which embraces primary, intermediate and university education, has been extended in recent years. The introduction of a scheme of technical and scientific study by the different educational departments was warmly supported by the Brotherhood; while by their management of orphanages and industrial schools they aid life skills.
Their residential colleges and secondary day-schools equip the students for adult life. The colleges of the Brothers in India are affiliated to the Allahabad, Madras and Calcutta Universities, in which their students distinguished themselves; while in Australia, they operate several schools.
In 2014, the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland (NBSCCCI) review found that “...the Patrician Brothers committed to the NBSCCCI safeguarding standards in 2008 and cases coming to their attention since then have been reported promptly.” The reviewers noted that regarding twenty-two abuse allegations between the 1950s -1980s, "...in 2013 the congregation carried out a full review of its files and engaged in a full re-reporting exercise to ensure of all the historical allegations were in the hands of both An Garda Síochána and the HSE Child Care services.” The reviewers saw “evidence of a considerable commitment by the Patricians to meet with, listen to and acknowledge the suffering and pain experienced by victims and to offer and provide support...This approach to victims is commended.”
- "Patrician History", The Brothers of St. Patrick"
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- Patrician Brothers
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