Making God Known, Loved, and Served
“This family is the Congregation of Holy Cross, founded by Basil Anthony Moreau. We are a community of pontifical right: men living and working under the approbation and authority of the successor of Peter. We are a religious congregation composed of two distinct societies of clerics and of laymen bound together in one indivisible brotherhood. Ours is a common founder, tradition, rule, government, way of life and mission.” —Constitutions of the Congregation of Holy Cross (1.6)
Since 1933, Christ the King has been under the spiritual care of the Congregation of Holy Cross, welcoming priests, brothers, and sisters in their ministry to the People of God in South Bend. The initials "C.S.C." after each of their names are an abbreviation for the Latin title Congregatio a Sancta Cruce, which means "Congregation of Holy Cross." Holy Cross traces its roots to Blessed Basil Moreau, originally a priest of the Diocese of Le Mans in France who envisioned bringing religious men and women into one family in service of the Church modeled on the Holy Family of Jesus, Joseph, and Mary. Fr. Moreau founded Holy Cross on March 1, 1837, when priests and brothers were brought together for the first time in the neighborhood of Sainte-Croix, literally "Holy Cross."
Fr. Moreau saw the work of Holy Cross religious as tied to a call to serve as educators in the faith, not only in France, but around the world, and this work was to encompass educational apostolates, parishes, and missionary initiatives. Within a few years of founding Holy Cross, Fr. Moreau sent his priests, brothers, and sisters from France to Algeria, the United States, Canada, and present-day India and Bangladesh. In 1842, a small band of Holy Cross religious came to northern Indiana and founded the University of Notre Dame under the leadership of Fr. Edward Sorin, C.S.C. From this early foundation, Holy Cross opened parishes and schools locally in South Bend and eventually across North and South America. Later missionaries went to Africa, which is home to the newest jurisdictions of Holy Cross priests and brothers.
“We accept the Lord's call to pledge ourselves publicly and perpetually as members of the Congregation of Holy Cross by the vows of consecrated celibacy, poverty, and obedience. Great is the mystery and meaning within these vows. And yet their point is simple. They are an act of love for the God who first loved us. By our vows we are committed to single-hearted intimacy with God, to trusting dependence upon God, and to willing surrender to God. We wish thus to live in the image of Jesus, who was sent in love to announce God's rule and who beckons to us to follow him.” —Constitutions of the Congregation of Holy Cross (5.43)
Today, the Congregation of Holy Cross consists of over 1,200 perpetually professed religious brothers and priests. Through their profession of the evangelical counsels, they seek conformity to Christ above all else, Christ who was perfectly chaste, perfectly poor, and perfectly obedient to the will of the Father. While the Holy Cross motherhouse remains in Le Mans, France, the international headquarters of Holy Cross operates from Rome, Italy. Ministries of Holy Cross are far and wide across the globe, with religious serving in India, Bangladesh, Ghana, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Chile, Peru, Brazil, Mexico, Haiti, Canada, and the United States. Christ the King is a ministry of the United States Province of Priests and Brothers.
“The cross was constantly before the eyes of Basil Moreau, whose motto for his congregation was Spes Unica. The cross was to be 'Our Only Hope.'” —Constitutions of the Congregation of Holy Cross (8.113)
The core of Holy Cross spirituality lies in the phrase Ave Crux, Spes Unica—"Hail the Cross, Our Only Hope." Priests and brothers in the Congregation of Holy Cross live and minister as "men with hope to bring" out of the conviction that by the most holy cross of Jesus Christ, he has redeemed the world as our Savior and Messiah. From the outset, Fr. Moreau placed his trust in Divine Providence, encouraging his religious with the message that by learning to love the cross, people of faith will work out their salvation accompanied by the graces that come from God's goodness and truth. Reflecting Fr. Moreau's spiritual guidance, the congregational symbol is the cross and anchors. The anchor remains an ancient Christian symbol of hope, for the Letter to the Hebrews instucts us to "hold fast to the hope that lies before us," which we have as an "anchor of the soul, sure and firm."
“There stood by the cross of Jesus his mother Mary, who knew grief and was a Lady of Sorrows. She is our special patroness, a woman who bore much she could not understand and who stood fast. To her many sons and daughters, whose devotions ought to bring them often to her side, she tells much of this daily cross and its daily hope.” —Constitutions of the Congregation of Holy Cross (8.120)
With the desire that his religious follow the example of the Holy Family, Fr. Moreau entrusted each of the three branches of Holy Cross to an individual patron within the Holy Family. Priests are consecrated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, brothers are consecrated to St. Joseph, and sisters are consecrated to the Blessed Virgin Mary under the title of Our Lady of Sorrows. Seeing Mary as a particular model of hope and courage at the foot of the cross, Fr. Moreau placed the entire Congregation of Holy Cross under the patronage of Our Lady of Sorrows. Together with the universal Church, we celebrate our patronal feast day each year on September 15.
“Our experience in Holy Cross is demanding. It is joyful as well. And so it should give us a life to which we would happily invite others. The Lord's call will be heard in our steadfast witness to the gospel, the companionship we offer one another, the cheerfulness with which we serve in our mission without counting the cost, and the sincere welcome we openly offer men who join us. If we delight in our vocation, we will share it with others.” —Constitutions of the Congregation of Holy Cross (6.60)
In many varied times and places that cut across languages and cultures, men and women have responded to the prompting of the Holy Spirit to enter into the family of Holy Cross and live out their vows in service of the Gospel. Among these is St. André Bessette, known as the "Miracle Man of Montreal" and our first Holy Cross saint. From humble beginnings, he become a Holy Cross brother, serving as a doorkeeper and gaining renown for his ministry of healing, telling people to "Go to Joseph!" His legacy lives on through countless ministries named in his honor that serve the sick, the poor, and the marginalized, and in a special way, his work continues at the Oratory of St. Joseph which grew out of his original vision. St. André Bessette was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on October 17, 2010.
Other Holy Cross heroes include four religious who have each been declared Servants of God by the Catholic Church—Archbishop Theotonius Ganguly, C.S.C., Br. Flavian Laplante, C.S.C., Bishop Vincent McCauley, C.S.C., and Br. Columba O'Neill, C.S.C. One member of Holy Cross, Fr. Patrick Peyton, C.S.C., a native of Ireland known as the "Rosary Priest" who preached the message that "the family that prays together stays together," was declared Venerable by Pope Francis on December 18, 2017. Finally, the Congregation of Holy Cross continues to pray through the intercession of our blessed founder, Fr. Moreau. Beatified in his native Le Mans on September 15, 2007, in honor of Our Lady of Sorrows, Blessed Basil Moreau remains an inspiration to the Church today as we strive to live out his vision of bringing hope to the world, preparing it for times better than our own.
Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.
Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us.
St. André Bessette, pray for us.
Bl. Basil Moreau, pray for us.