Notre Dame’s 2011 Holy Cross week celebration commenced with a Mass offered on the feast of Bl. Basil Moreau, founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross. Fr. David Tyson, provincial superior of the Indiana Province of the Congregation of Holy Cross, presided over the liturgy.
Basil Moreau was the founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross, who founded the University of Notre Dame. Moreau was born in 1799 to a poor family in Laigné-en-Belin, France. His religious parents were active in the underground Church during the anti-clericalism of the French Revolution, and Moreau joined the diocesan seminary as soon as he was able. He was ordained in Le Mans, France, at the age of 22.
Moreau devoted himself to restoring the Catholic Church in France, traveling great distances to administer the sacraments and catechize the faithful.
After serving as a theology professor at the Le Mans seminary, Moreau formed what would become the Congregation of Holy Cross in 1837. The congregation developed out of a group that had merged a society of priests to which Moreau belonged and a group called the Brothers of St. Joseph. After incorporating a society of sisters in 1841, the congregation received full approval from Rome in 1857, with great support from Pope Pius IX.
Moreau died in 1873 and was declared venerable by John Paul II in 2003. In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI declared Moreau to be blessed, one step away from full canonization. Ever since Moreau’s beatification, the Notre Dame community has celebrated Holy Cross Week in the week following the feast of Basil Moreau (January 20).
Given the important place of Basil Moreau in the Congregation of Holy Cross, his feast carries special privileges for the Notre Dame community. While the Roman calendar commemorates Basil Moreau on January 20 with a memorial, Holy Cross has permission to commemorate the day as a feast, allowing the Notre Dame Liturgical Choir to sing the GLORIA at the Mass held in his honor in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart.
Fr. David Tyson, the celebrant, delivered a homily extolling the life of Basil Moreau and its connection with the charism of the Congregation of Holy Cross. He remarked on Moreau’s “deep trust in the providence of God,” and he preached on the significance of the motto of the Congregation, ” Ave Crux, Spes Unica” (Hail O Cross, our only hope). Tyson said of Moreau, “Personal holiness allowed him to see clearly that the Cross of Christ was an instrument of hope for the world.”
The Mass concluded with the distribution of the Spirit of Holy Cross Award, given annually to several lay persons who demonstrate a life lived according to the vision of Basil Moreau John Cavadini, Director of the Institute for Church Life and Associate Professor of Theology, received this year’s award to much applause. In receiving the award, it was noted that Cavadini helped students “make prayers of their education,” and that his work has been responsible for countless individuals finding or returning to the Church.
Holy Cross Week continued with the celebration of Vespers on Sunday the 23, which was offered with the special intention of vocations to the Congregation of Holy Cross.
On Monday the 24th, Cyril O’Regan, Huiskung Professor of Theology, delivered the third annual Blessed Basil Moreau lecture. Fr. Daniel Groody, CSC, introduced O’Regan’s lecture “John Henry Newman: The Validity of Holiness in the Modern World.”
On January 25, a new documentary was shown in Geddes Hall on the life of Brother André Bessette, CSC, entitled “God’s Doorkeeper: Saint André of Montreal.” Pope Benedict XVI canonized Bessette last fall, making him the first saint in the Congregation of Holy Cross. The film was followed by questions with Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB, who produced the film.
Holy Cross Week closed with an exhibition of photographs by Steven Scardina about the life of St. André on Wednesday, Jan 26. The photographs were displayed in the rotunda of Main Building, and included a short talk by Scardina on his work.
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