Holy Cross Legacy

In the troubled period following the French Revolution Basil Anthony Moreau, a priest of the diocese of Le Mans, France, founded the Congregation of Holy Cross.

In response to the needs for education and evangelization of the devastated church throughout the countryside, in 1835 he gathered a group of Auxiliary Priests. Only days after this group was assembled, Father Moreau accepted responsibility for the Brothers of St. Joseph, who had been founded fifteen years earlier by another priest of the same diocese, James Francis Dujarie, pastor of Ruille-sur-Loir. The brothers were zealous laymen who had been meeting the need for elementary education in villages of the region. Father Moreau eventually decided to unite these two groups, which he did with the Fundamental Act of March 1, 1837. Priests and brothers, therefore, were united within a single association to minister to the pastoral and educational needs of the French church. Father Moreau also added a group of sisters to the fledgling Congregation, the Marianites of Holy Cross.

Holy Cross soon spread beyond France to other countries of Europe, to Africa and North America, and even to the difficult mission of Eastern Bengal, then in India.

In 1857 the Constitutions of the Congregation were approved, and the two societies were fused into a closer unity with a shared governmental structure at all levels. The areas of ministry that the new Congregation accepted as their own were two: preaching the Word of God and Christian education.

The Marianites themselves received approbation for worldwide status in 1867, and in 1869 and 1883 sisters in two provinces in the United States and Canada acquired formal existence as independent congregations: the Sisters of the Holy Cross, and the Sisters of Holy Cross and of the Seven Dolors (since 1981, the Sisters of Holy Cross).

In the long span of years that followed their final approbation, the Priests and Brothers of Holy Cross devoted their greatest efforts to educational ministries in the United States and Canada and France. These years were a time of rapid growth in numbers and diversification of ministries. The international character of the community began to evolve extensively. Men went overseas not so much to establish new churches as to assist indigenous churches to develop.

The Constitutions published by the General Chapter of 1986 followed two decades of deliberation and were a conscious attempt to return more closely to the ideal of Basil Moreau. Holy Cross was being persuaded to reinterpret its identity not only as a company of men devoted to a mission of service but, following the founder's guiding concern, as a group of clerical and lay religious called to become brothers, to make a common life together and to embark upon ministries in concert with one another and with our sisters in Holy Cross.

The seal of the Congregation of Holy Cross is represented by a cross surmounted at its base by two anchors, the Christian symbol for hope. Our motto is the Latin phrase Spes Unica reflecting our conviction that the cross is our "only hope."

Taken from The Holy Cross Brothers website

Also visit the Congregation of Holy Cross, United States Province of Priests and Brothers

Education is the art of bringing young people to completeness. Blessed Basil Anthony Moreau, Founder, Congregation of Holy Cross


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