The charism of a religious community is its particular personality and attractiveness within the Church—that which makes it distinctive and sets it apart from others. Our charism, mission, and spirituality as a congregation is inextricably linked to our history. Our founder, the Venerable Rev. Basil Moreau, C.S.C., began Holy Cross as a group of priests who would assist in parishes as a post-revolutionary France tried to recover from the spiritual upheaval of the 19th century. But as Holy Cross grew and matured, both priests and brothers became involved in missionary activity in Africa, Asia, North and South America. While in these lands, Holy Cross priests and brothers founded schools and other ministries, many of which are still thriving today.
Holy Cross was originally named after a neighborhood (Sainte Croix, meaning “Holy Cross”) in the city where Fr. Moreau founded his congregation in France (LeMans), and appropriately so, the Cross soon became an integral part of his community’s spirituality. The motto of the congregation is Ave Crux, Spes Unica, which means “hail the Cross, our only hope.” This sense of hope has helped to fuel the ministry and mission of Holy Cross even to the present day and we dare to claim the Cross of Christ, a piece of wood meant for suffering and death, as that which brings the hope of resurrection to the entire world. It is this confidence in the transformative power of grace along with our founder’s trust in Divine Providence that makes Holy Cross a beacon of light in our Church today.
Bishop Daniel Jenky, C.S.C. wrote this about Fr. Moreau and his vision for the congregation: “Moreau never expected the world to always agree with him; he never thought the task would be easy. He never wanted to study and teach the way everyone else did. With enormous conviction, Moreau did want his religious family to remain loyal to the insights of faith and so achieve in the apostolate of education great things for God and neighbor. His Holy Cross ‘Educators in the Faith’ were always to have wider concerns and deeper loyalties than teachers limited by a merely secular model. Father Moreau’s deliberate program was to unite intense holiness with learning and service.”
This vision is alive and well in the Congregation of Holy Cross today in the schools, parishes, missions, and ministries of Holy Cross that seek to build Christ’s kingdom here on earth.