Brief History of the Brothers of St. Patrick
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|“In the early days of the nineteenth century, the torch of faith burned uncertain among the people of Ireland. Decades of penal restrictions had failed to extirpate the people’s faith, but ignorance of the principles of religion caused great anxiety among the hierarchy of the country. Dr. Delany, bishop of the diocese of Kildare and Leighlin, saw an opportunity in the relaxation of the Penal Laws to arrest the evil. Wishing to impart a knowledge of the principles of religion to the people of his diocese, he formed a group of catechists at Tullow, Co. Carlow,. Under his direction these zealous young men devoted their time on Sundays to the instruction of the laity, both juvenile and adult. To insure continuity in their work, the bishop formed from these catechists the nucleus of a religious congregation of Brothers.Appropriately, the servant of God who had a fervent devotion to the Blessed Sacrament placed the congregation under the special protection of the Sacred Heart and under the patronage of the Blessed Mother and of St. Patrick. Succeeding generations of Brothers have endeavored to develop in the minds of those confided to their care a tender devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, to the Sacred Heart and the Blessed Mother.
Primarily an active congregation, the Brothers view as their highest goal God’s honor and glory by the proper employment of the talents He has given them. To this end they follow a way of life that obligates them to the perpetual observance of the vows of celibacy, poverty, and obedience, and a rule of life having the approbation of the Holy See. Joining action to contemplation, the Brothers dedicate themselves to the particular end of their vocation which is the Christian education of youth.
From lowly beginnings the congregation spread throughout Ireland. Animated by that zeal that fired their holy founder, the Brothers extended their work of spiritual and educational endeavor to foreign lands. The call for help in extending Christ’s kingdom came from Madras, India in 1870 and the Brothers responded. Today, they conduct schools and orphanages in India.
In 1880, the land of Southern Cross beckoned, and the Brothers established their first foundation in Sydney. Other foundations in the new commonwealth followed. India and Australia are now provinces with novitiates and houses of formation.
It was not until 1948 that the Brothers made their first foundation in America. This was in Santa Monica, California, followed later by other establishments. As well, the Brothers have established a Novitiate for American aspirants who have graduated from high school.
In 1961 the Brothers opened their first foundation in Africa, followed subsequently by another establishment. In more recent years, the Brothers have entered on real pioneering work in mission lands, establishing in New Guinea where in addition to the teaching apostolate, social agricultural and technical skills are fostered and developed in another of the newly emerging nations.