Holy Cross, Congregation of

views updated


Founded in France in 1837, its members include priests and brothers dedicated to parochial education, social justice, spiritual renewal, and foreign mission work. The congregation has a generalate in Rome, six provinces in the U. S., three in Canada, two in Bangladesh and one in India.

Origin and Development. The Congregation of Holy Cross was founded March 1, 1837, at Le Mans, Sarthe, France, by Basil Anthony moreau, who united into one religious institute the Congregation of the Brothers of St. Josephfounded in 1820 at Ruillé-sur-Loir, Diocese of Le Mans, by Canon Jacques-François Dujariéand the Auxiliary Priests of Le Manswhich Moreau himself had founded in 1835. The Brothers of St. Joseph had been established to provide primary education for children in rural villages where the French Revolution had practically destroyed the previously existing system for the education of the children of the common people. To counteract the evil influences of the Revolution in the more strictly religious and spiritual order, the Auxiliary Priests had taken as their specific aim assistance of the parish clergy in different dioceses, particularly by preaching parish missions and retreats.

In 1835, Dujarié's ill health led Bp. Jean-Baptiste Bouvier of Le Mans to entrust to Moreau the direction of

the Brothers of St. Joseph. After first attempting to govern the two communities separately, Moreau united them into one institute. The Brothers of St. Joseph had some time earlier begun to adopt perpetual religious vows, whereas the Auxiliary Priests were still diocesan priests living in community while engaging in joint apostolic activities under the direction of their superior. However, on Aug. 15, 1840, Moreau pronounced his perpetual vows in the presence of Bouvier and was followed by several of his first collaborators, among whom was Edward F. Sorin, CSC, first superior of the congregation in the U.S. and first president of the University of Notre Dame, Ind.

The congregation composed of priests and brothers was granted a papal decree of praise on June 18, 1855, and definitive approval was decreed on May 13, 1857. It had been Moreau's original intention to include in the organization a congregation of religious women that he had founded as the Marianite Sisters of Holy Cross. However, the sisters were eventually excluded from the approval granted by Rome, and Moreau was instructed to govern them as a separate and autonomous community. They later developed three distinct congregations, in France, the U. S., and Canada. From the beginning the apostolate of the Brothers of Holy Cross, formerly the Brothers of St. Joseph, was confined to education, especially on the primary level, in France. The Priests of Holy Cross, on the other hand, devoted themselves to both teaching and the works of the sacred ministry.

Early in its history, the Congregation of Holy Cross extended its activities outside France, establishing houses in Algeria (1840), the U. S. (1842), Canada (1847), Italy (1850), and India (1853), in addition to scattered temporary foundations in Poland and the French Caribbean possessions. In 2001 foundations existed in Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, Chile, France, Ghana, Haiti, India, Ireland, Italy, Kenya, Mexico, Peru, Tanzania, and the U.S., organized into thirteen provinces and seven religious religious districts.

Special Characteristics. According to its pontifically approved constitutions, the Congregation of Holy Cross is a clerical institute of pontifical right, composed of two societies that, while canonically united, remain nevertheless distinct and, within the limits determined by the constitutions, autonomous. The distinction of the two societies within the congregation is established on the provincial and local levels, where each society has its own government and administration. Union between the two societies is maintained by the same general administration, under a priest as superior general, and a general council composed of an equal number of priests and brothers; by the observance of the same constitutions and the use of the same manual of prayers and religious practices; and by the canonical visitation of all the houses of the congregation by the superior general or his delegate.

In the priests' society there are two canonical classes of religious, namely, priests or clerics and brothers. The brothers' society has only one class of religious, engaged either in teaching or in other activities. All the perpetually professed members of the congregation enjoy full active and passive voice in the government of the congregation, irrespective of occupation. The members of each society have a special name: Priests of Holy Cross (earlier called Salvatorists) and Brothers of Holy Cross (formerly known as Josephites). Under the general name of Religious of Holy Cross, all belong to the same religious institute known as the Congregation of Holy Cross or Congregatio a Sancta Cruce (CSC). The name of the congregation does not come from the Holy Cross, but from the suburb of Le Mans, called Sainte-Croix (Holy Cross), where Moreau established the first motherhouse of the congregation.

Local houses, provinces, and religious districts are, in principle, autonomous according to the prescriptions contained in the constitutions, i.e., they are composed of members of the two societies of the congregation, and are governed by superiors chosen from among the religious of that society which has jurisdiction. It pertains to the provincial superiors to establish coordination between the activities proper to each society or common to both, and to determine what assistance shall be provided by each society in its respective provinces.

Because of this common direction and pooling of efforts, the members of one society may be employed in the houses or activities of the other society. The priests of the congregation often serve as chaplains in the houses of the brothers, according to ordinances drawn up by the respective provincial superiors regulating the residence, duties, and rights of these chaplains.

Purpose and Constitutions. The congregation has as its general goal the glory of God and the perfection of its individual members through the practice of the simple vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. The nature of the vows is, in general, identical with the traditional significance of the vows in similar congregations.

The special goals of the congregation, as specified in the constitutions, are: to follow Christ, to serve all people, believers and unbelievers alike, and to spread the Gospel and to work for the development of a more just and humane society.

In the first years of the congregation, each society of priests, brothers, and sisters had its own particular constitutions. At the time of papal approval in 1857 there existed only one summary text of constitutions for both priests and brothers. Each society nevertheless retained its own particular capitular rules, which were more detailed than the constitutions and served as a commentary on them. Some years later, the capitular rules were likewise unified into one volume for both societies. The text of both the constitutions and the capitular rules underwent successive modifications over the years. Finally, the general chapter of 1950 undertook a complete revision of the rules and constitutions, synthesizing them into one text henceforth known as the Constitutions of the Congregation of Holy Cross.

The constitutions were revised by the general chapter of 1968 to bring them into accord with the Second Vatican Council's call for the renewal of religious life. They were again separated into constitutions, which can be amended only with the approval of the Holy See, and statutes, which can be amended by an absolute majority of the general chapter. The governance of the congregation was decentralized so that the superior general was henceforth elected to a six-year term renewable once. His role became to "guide and govern," and many of his powers were given to the provincial superiors and their councils. After 1968, only a general chapter, not the superior general, could establish and suppress provinces.

The 1974 general chapter established an annual meeting of provincial superiors with the general administration as the Council of the Congregation. The general chapter of 1980 proposed that the office of superior general should not be restricted to priests, but should be open to any member of the congregation professed for at least ten years. This proposal was repeated by the general chapters of 1986, 1992 and 1998, but was not approved by the Holy See. The general chapter of 1986 rewrote the constitutions in an exhortative rather than a canonical style.

Activities. The congregation developed extensively in the U. S. where, in 2001, it had its greatest number of members and apostolic works. Three provinces of priests have headquarters located respectively at Notre Dame, Indiana, Bridgeport, Connecticut, and Austin, Texas; three provinces of brothers have administrative centers at Notre Dame, Indiana, New Rochelle, New York, and Austin, Texas. The Notre Dame province of priests is affiliated with the University of Notre Dame and the University of Portland in Oregon. It also owns Ave Maria Press, which publishes spiritual books and religious educationaal materials, and is engaged in multiple other phases of educational, parochial, social justice, and spiritual renewal in the U. S. The Bridgeport province is affiliated with King's College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and Stonehill College, in North Easton, Massachusetts, in addition to parish and spiritual renewal ministry. The province is also responsible for Holy Cross Family Ministries, founded as the Family Rosary Crusade by Rev. Patrick J. Peyton. The Austin province is engaged in parochial work in Louisiana, Texas, and Mexico.

The Notre Dame brothers' province conducts high schools in two dioceses and Holy Cross College at Notre Dame, Indiana, and directs schools for exceptional and needy boys in the U. S. The brothers' provinces of New Rochelle (four dioceses) and Austin (four dioceses) engage in the same general type of apostolic work; St. Edward's University, Austin, is affiliated with the brothers of that province.

In Canada, the chief houses of the priests' province is the Oratory of St. Joseph in Montreal, made famous by Brother André Besette, CSC, as an international center of devotion and pilgrimage in honor of St. Joseph. The Collège Notre-Dame, Montreal, is under the direction of the Canadian brothers' province. There are also other educational, parochial and missionary activities in other localities throughout the Provinces of Quebec and New Brunswick. The Canadian priests' province directs the Fides publishing house, one of the largest religious publishers in Canada. The English Canadian priests' province is engaged in education, sponsoring schools in Welland and St. Catherine's in Ontario, and in parish work in Nova Scotia, Ontario and Alberta.

Just as in the U. S. and Canada, the congregation carries out a twofold apostolate of education and parish ministry elsewhere in the world. In Bangladesh, the priests' province conducts Notre Dame College in Dhaka and staffs parishes throughout the country. The brothers' province conducts high schools in Dhaka and Chittagong. In India, the priests' province is engaged in education and parish ministry in the North East Territory, while the brothers conduct several schools in southern India.

There is one novitiate in Cascade, Colorado, used by all the provinces in North America. Other novitiates are located in India, Bangladesh, Ghana, Haiti Peru, and Uganda. Houses of studies are maintained in Montreal, Notre Dame, and San Antonio in North America, and in Nairobi, Kenya, Santiago, Chile, Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Dhaka, Bangladesh, and Bangalore, India.

The priests' Notre Dame province in the U. S. is responsible for the district of Chile and, together with the New Rochelle brothers' province, for Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania. The Canadian priests' Montreal province is responsible for districts in Haiti and Brazil. The Bridgeport priests' province is responsible for the district of Peru. The Canadian brothers' province is responsible for the brothers' district in India. The brothers' province of Austin operates two colleges in Brazil.

Since its foundation, the congregation has furnished to the Church several members who were raised to episcopal rank, including Cardinal John Francis O'Hara, Archbishop of Philadelphia (195160). In April 2001 its members numbered 1,686 (986 priests, deacons, and seminarians and 700 brothers), including two archbishops and eight bishops, in 221 houses. Thirty percent of the members in 2001 were serving outside of North America and Europe.

Bibliography: CSC, Official Catholic Directory #0600 brothers, #0610 priests. e. and t. catta, Basil Anthony Moreau, tr. e. l. heston, 2 v. (Milwaukee 1956), lists sources and bibliography. t. catta, Father Dujarié, tr. e. l. heston (Milwaukee 1960), with bibliography. a. j. hope, Notre Dame: One Hundred Years (Notre Dame, IN 1943). p. armstrong, A More Perfect Legacy (Notre Dame, IN 1995). r. clancy, The Congregation of Holy Cross in East Bengal, 18531953 (Washington 1953). m. r. o'connell, Edward Sorin (Notre Dame, IN 2001). Sainte-Croix au Canada (St. Laurent, QC: 1947). d. syiemlieh, They Dared to Hope (Bangalore, India 1998).

[e. l. heston/

j. connelly]

About this article

Holy Cross, Congregation of

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article