Congregation of Holy Cross and Knights of Columbus Celebrate Important Solemnity

Holy Cross religious commemorated the Solemnity of St. Joseph, one of two solemnities that typically fall during Lent, with celebrations across campus. St. Joseph is the patron saint of the Brothers of Holy Cross.

The Holy Cross brothers are colloquially known in French as Joséphites. At the final profession of vows, they receive a St. Joseph medal as the final part of the habit that they have worn since their first profession of vows. The only canonized Holy Cross religious, St. André Bessette, a Holy Cross brother, is famous for his devotion to St. Joseph and the founding of the St. Joseph Oratory in Montreal, the largest oratory to St. Joseph in North America.

The Holy Cross Brothers were founded in 1820 as the Brothers of St. Joseph by Fr. Jacques-François Dujarié to educate boys in the rural areas around Le Mans, France. Br. Donald Stabrowski, C.S.C. told the Rover that one of the many reasons Fr. Dujarié chose St. Joseph as patron was so that the members of the newly-founded society would “replicate St. Joseph in [their] lives as humble and hard-working men to assist the clergy and the parishes in educating the post-Revolutionary children of France in religious instruction.”

The Congregation of Holy Cross was formed when Bl. Basil Moreau united the Brothers of St. Joseph with his recently-formed Auxiliary Priests. This new society of priests and brothers took the name “Holy Cross” from the suburb of Le Mans that was their headquarters—Sainte-Croix.

This year, Holy Cross religious, along with students, staff, and faculty, celebrated the solemnity by attending the 5:15 p.m. Mass at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. It was celebrated by Fr. William Lies, C.S.C., Provincial Superior of the United States Province of the Congregation of Holy Cross, with Dcn. Brian Vetter, C.S.C. as the homilist. The Liturgical Choir sang for the special occasion.

St. Joseph’s feast day is also an important day for the Knights of Columbus. Fr. Brian Ching, C.S.C., chaplain of the Notre Dame Knights of Columbus Council, explained to the Rover, “As an organization of Catholic Men, the Knights have always looked to St. Joseph as a model husband and father and had sought his intercession as the protector of the Holy Church.”

The Notre Dame Knights of Columbus celebrated by organizing a consecration to St. Joseph after the 5:15 p.m. Mass. The 33-day preparation for the consecration, based on Fr. Donald Calloway’s Consecration to St. Joseph, began on February 16. The preparation consisted of a daily reading from Consecration to St. Joseph and praying the Litany of St. Joseph. Each week, participants met as a group, discussed the readings, and prayed together.

Freshman knight Gabriel Ortner, who participated in the St. Joseph consecration, said he decided to consecrate himself because he needed “a role model and patron to call upon for help when [he needs] to be strong.” He added that he chose to consecrate himself to St. Joseph “to prepare [himself] to be a father who [his] family and community can depend on in a world abounding with broken families.”

On the Thursday, March 21 after St. Joseph’s Feast Day, Moreau Seminary celebrated St. Joseph by organizing an Italian-themed social after Lucernarium, their weekly night prayer service. In Italy, St. Joseph’s Day has been an important celebration day since the Middle Ages, when his intercession relieved Sicily from a famine.

Though there were meatballs at the St. Joseph social, the traditional St. Joseph’s day meal contains no meat, as the old regulations for Lent did not allow for the consumption of meat at all. According to an informative sign, the main course is “typically a pasta dish with sardines and tomatoes, and sprinkled with breadcrumbs to represent the sawdust of a carpenter.” Various other dishes accompany this main meal, such as lentil soups and vegetable dishes made of fava beans, the crop that grew bountifully because of St. Joseph’s intercession.

A St. Joseph table, or altar, was set up in the common room of the seminary. According to an informational sign, a St. Joseph table is a traditional Silician way of showing thanks to St. Joseph. It typically has three levels to symbolize the Holy Trinity, with a statue or image of St. Joseph or the Holy Family on the top. The table is decorated with lilies—St. Joseph’s flower—and vigil candles of brown, green, and dark yellow, colors associated with St. Joseph. Breads baked in various shapes, such as a cross and carpentry tools, are also placed on the table.

The St. Joseph’s day celebrations were recognized by many students as particularly fruitful in light of the observation of Lent, as Holy Cross religious and Notre Dame students alike prepare for Easter this March 31.

Bartosz is currently taking a Rover-recommended class with Fr. Gregory Haake, C.S.C. about images of the priest in French culture. If you want to learn more about why M. le Curé de Torcy is literally him, email Bartosz at

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