One of the biggest faux pas that a person make is to ask a graduate of the University of Notre Dame, "isn't Notre Dame a Jesuit school?" Even though many Jesuits are great priests, most Domers' would agree that they couldn't have gotten a finer education than from the University run by the Holy Cross Fathers. My return to the Catholic Church was largely influenced by interacting with many wonderful Holy Cross Fathers during my years at a student at Notre Dame.
For years the Congregation of the Holy Cross has promoted the cause for sainthood of their founder, Fr. Basil Moreau. Fr. Moreau's beatification this Friday, September 14th marks the culmination of years of prayer and hard work. It is with great pride that I will be doing a couple of posts on the life and spirituality of Fr. Moreau in the days leading up to his beatification.
Below is an excellent account of Fr. Moreau's life:
The Story of Basil Anthony Marie MoreauFounder of the Brothers, Priests, and Sisters of Holy Cross
"You did not choose me, I chose you". The Congregation of Holy Cross recognize this quotation as the special calling of their Founder, Basil Moreau. Basil was born to Louis Moreau and Louise Pioger, and his name was a providential choice, because the Doctor of the Roman Catholic Church, Basil the Great, was to lead his protege' in a path of dedication of spreading the Word of God through education. For more than a century, members of the family of Holy Cross have established, directed, and supported institutions of learning, from maternal schools through Universities in the U.S., Europe, France, Canada, Asia, Africa, and South America.
As a child, Basil was a student of the Pastor of his parish. Always interested in his studies and anxious to learn more, it is said that while he attended the family animals in nearby fields, he always carried his study books. He loved to read and study, and those who knew him described him as an organizer who gathered his companions to participate in games and other activities which he planned. He was the one to teach pious young boys to serve Mass, perhaps an indication of his personal vocation. Impressed with his desire and success in learning, as well as his piety, the Parish priest of Laigné-en-Belin discussed his conviction with Basil's father, and made arrangements for the boy to enter the Minor seminary at Chateau Gontier. Basil and his father made the journey to the seminary on foot, a distance covered today by car in an hour and a half. What genuine interest, courage, and devotion was displayed by father and son!
Basil's spiritual formation and secular instruction continued in the major seminary until ordination in Le Mans in 1821. This was supplemented by two years spent with the Sulpicians in Paris. On his return to the Diocese of Le Mans, he was appointed professor of Philosophy, Dogmatic Theology and Scripture.
The example and teaching of Moreau continue to inspire the religious family of brothers, priests, and sisters of Holy Cross which he founded to serve the people of God. In mid-19th century Le Mans, Moreau (now a diocesan priest) faced the turmoil, uncertainties and danger experienced by the Catholic Church in the aftermath of the French Revolution. He dreamed of establishing a religious family of three separate and autonomous groups (priests, brothers and sisters) united in their work and in spirit and dedicated to service. Modeled on the Holy Family, each branch of the new religious family was dedicated to Jesus, Mary or Joseph.
Father Moreau assumed the direction of the Brothers of St. Joseph when their founder Father Jacques Dujarié became too ill to continue their direction. In addition to this group, Father Moreau began his own society of priests dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In response to the appeals from bishops, Fr. Moreau sent his religious in teams of brothers, priests, and sisters to minister in Algeria and the U.S. (1841), Canada (1847), Italy (1850) and India (1853).
In 1838 he gave a rule of life to a group of devout laywomen. These women assisted the priests and brothers at first by doing domestic work, then in teaching and nursing. These women became the Marianites of Holy Cross. Today, the women of Holy Cross form 3 distinct congregations: Marianites of Holy Cross, Sisters of the Holy Cross, and Sisters of Holy Cross. Men and women religious of Holy Cross minister in Europe, North and South America, Africa, and Asia, engaged in a variety of ministries fulfilling their commitment to continue the mission of Jesus in the spirit of Fr. Moreau.
Born February 11, 1799 in Laigné-en-Belin, a little village near Le Mans, France. He was the 9th of 14 children; his father was a wine merchant.
Entered the diocesan seminary.
Ordained a priest at age 22.
Taught and served as assistant superior in Le Mans; named leader of the Brothers of St. Joseph founded by Fr. Jacques Dujarié. Founded the society of Auxiliary Priests.
United the brothers and priests into the Association of Holy Cross.
Professed vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
Received the vows of Leocadie Gascoin and three Marianites.
Received papal approval of the constitutions for the Association, which became the Congregation ofHoly Cross.
Resigned as superior general, but continued an active preaching and retreat ministry.
Celebrated his Golden Jubilee.
Died on January 20 at age 73.
The cause for his beatification was introduced in Rome.