The Christian Brothers are drawing up plans to “bombard heaven” for the miracle needed to canonise their founder, Blessed Edmund Rice.
The brothers want to mark the 250th anniversary of his birth on June 1 2012 with a “vigorous campaign of prayer” which, they hope, will culminate in finding the second miracle needed to declare him Ireland’s next saint.
Brother Donal Blake, the Dublin-based postulator for the Cause for Canonisation of Blessed Edmund, said brothers at their headquarters in Rome are drawing up proposals to encourage people in 32 countries to pray for healing miracles through his intercession.
Appeals will be issued through institutions run by the Christian Brothers and the Presentation Brothers, the two orders founded by Blessed Edmund. Churches will be leafleted. The brothers will set up rosary leagues and will raise awareness of Blessed Edmund through lectures in schools, colleges, universities and parishes. They will also use the internet to e-mail Catholic groups for prayers while publications and histories about the life and work of Blessed Edmund will be published to also raise awareness about him in the hope that the sick will pray to him for healing.
Closer to the anniversary of his birth academics and Church scholars will also be invited to “promote the idea that Edmund being a saint”, said Brother Donal.
“We believe already, obviously, that Edmund is in heaven but we want other people to see that what he stood for is still of central value in today’s world — that he took the Gospel and tried to live it to a higher level,” he said.
“That should be an inspiration for other people,” he said. “There are certain truths worth propagating and living up to in today’s Church in spite of all the scandal and troubles.” Brother Donal first revealed plans for a prayer campaign in an e-mail to Christian Brothers institutions welcoming the September beatification of Blessed John Henry Newman, the founder of the University College Dublin.
He said the Christian Brothers should learn from Blessed John Henry’s “use of imagination in the promotion of the Church and its institutions and ministries”.
He asked his readers to “share with me how imagination might be harnessed to promote the canonisation of Blessed Edmund Rice and the various ministries, projects and endeavours undertaken under his inspiration”.
Brother Donal said: “Mgr Robert Sarno, my mentor at the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Rome, keeps reassuring me that everything, bar the approval of a miracle, is now in place for Edmund’s canonisation. He says we should bombard heaven, being always mindful that there is our time – and God’s time.”
He said he was now “anxious not to lose the window of opportunity in the promotion of Edmund as saint that could and should be provided by a well-thought-out plan of campaign for the celebration of 2012”.
Blessed Edmund was born in 1762 at Westcourt, Callan, in County Kilkenny. He married and became a successful businessman but lost his wife, Mary, after an accident that also left his infant daughter disabled. In spite of having to care for a sick child, he began to devote himself to prayer and charitable work, notably with the poor of Waterford, and in 1802 opened his first school in the city just at the time when the relaxation of the penal laws allowed a chance for children to be openly educated in the Catholic faith.
In 1808 he established the Presentation Brothers and in 1820 the Christian Brothers. He died in 1844.