Brothers of the Christian Schools

By: Martin Donell Kohout

Type: General Entry

Published: November 1, 1994

Updated: June 23, 2020

The Brothers of the Christian Schools, also known as the Christian Brothers, are a Catholic teaching order founded by St. John Baptiste de la Salle in seventeenth-century France. They first came to the United States in 1845, when they established a school in Baltimore, and by 1918 they had established five provinces in the United States: Baltimore, New York, St. Louis, San Francisco, and New Orleans-Santa Fe. The brothers first came to Texas in January 1861, when they took over the operation of St. Mary's University in Galveston. This school survived the bombardment of the city by Union forces in January 1863, but the yellow fever epidemic of 1867 forced it to close. From 1869 to 1871 the brothers operated St. Joseph's College in Brownsville but thereafter did not return to Texas until 1925, when they took over the two-year-old St. Patrick's High School in El Paso, which had previously been under the direction of the Sisters of Loretto.

On September 8, 1925, the renamed Cathedral High School opened with forty-five boys; its first graduating class, in 1927, had seven students. By 1933 the enrollment had grown to 200, but Cathedral shared the El Paso Community Center with a separate grade school until 1940. In that year the community center closed, the grade school moved, and the high school took over the entire facility. In 1972 El Paso's Jesuit High School closed, and Cathedral's enrollment reached 400 for the first time. By 1981, when the brothers of the Christian Schools celebrated their tercentenary, Cathedral was the only private religious school for boys in El Paso. In 1992 the enrollment was 530.

The brothers returned to Galveston in 1931 and took over Kirwin High School, which had been staffed by Ursuline and Dominican sisters. Eleven years later a new building was erected on the site of the original Moody home, where the school had been located since 1927. The brothers ran Kirwin until 1968, when it was combined with Dominican High School and the Ursuline Academy to form O'Connell High School. The brothers continued to work in the new school until 1975.

The third Christian Brothers educational endeavor in Texas was Price College in Amarillo. Amarillo Bishop Rudolph A. Gerken established a boys' school known as St. George's College in 1928, and for ten years the school was run by diocesan priests. Its name was changed to Price Memorial College in 1930 at the request of Katherine E. Price, the widow of merchant Lucien B. Price. The word Memorial was dropped from its title when the Christian Brothers took over the school in 1938. Two years later Price added an eighth grade to the four high school years, and in 1964 the school was renamed Price Catholic High School, to avoid confusion caused by the word College. The brothers withdrew from the school sometime after the mid-1960s.

The Christian Brothers have also operated several other Texas schools, including La Salle High School in San Antonio from 1957 to its closing in 1968; Antonian High School in San Antonio from 1964 to 1971; and Marian Christian High School in Houston from 1978 to its closing in 1989.

Carlos E. Castañeda, Our Catholic Heritage in Texas (7 vols., Austin: Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1936–58; rpt., New York: Arno, 1976). Catholic Archives of Texas, Files, Austin.

  • Peoples
  • French
  • Religion
  • Catholic

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Martin Donell Kohout, “Brothers of the Christian Schools,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 26, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

November 1, 1994
June 23, 2020