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Celebrate with Holy Cross

Observer Viewpoint | Thursday, October 5, 2006

Just over five months ago, on April 28, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI authorized the promulgation of the miracle attributed to the intercession of the Venerable Basile Moreau, founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross. This promulgation completed the beatification process for Father Moreau, and it is expected that he will be beatified in LeMans, France, where the Congregation of Holy Cross was founded in 1835.

On that date, the Brothers of St. Joseph, founded in the aftermath of the French Revolution to serve as Catholic teachers to poor children in the countryside, and a group of priests which Father Moreau founded to be educators and to assist in local dioceses, were united and a new religious family was founded. Twenty-two years later, Pope Saint Pius IX approved Holy Cross as a religious Congregation of Pontifical Right. This enabled Father Moreau to immediately send young Holy Cross religious from France to Algeria (1835), to the United States (1842), to Canada (1843) and to what is now Bangladesh (in 1856).

It is likely that Father Moreau will be beatified on or near the patronal feast of the priests, brothers and sisters of Holy Cross, Our Lady of Sorrows, which is observed on Sept. 15. Plans are already underway for what will be a special moment of grace and blessing not only for the Church and for the members of Holy Cross, but also for the tens of thousands of people served by thousands of Holy Cross men and women in 17 countries around the world from Bangladesh and India, to Haiti, Peru, Brazil and Chile in South America, Canada, Mexico and the United States in North America, and Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Ghana in Africa, as well as France and Italy.

In anticipation of this joyous occasion, the superior general of the Congregation of Holy Cross has declared a year of rejoicing and spiritual renewal through which Holy Cross religious are urged to deepen their commitment to consecrated life. He has also urged us to redouble our efforts to draw more young men to serve the Church as priests and brothers by the example of our life and work.

Of course, Notre Dame will play a central role in all these efforts.

In an attempt to prepare for Father Moreau’s beatification and to rededicate ourselves to honor Mary as the patroness of the University, a number of steps have been taken by Campus Ministry.

The painting of Our Lady of Lourdes which is to the left side of the main altar of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, is decorated with candles and flowers on every feast of Mary and on special Notre Dame weekends, including home football weekends. It is our attempt to imitate Father Sorin’s love for the Blessed Mother. A prayer card is available on these occasions which contains the Salve Regina. The words “our life, our sweetness and our hope,” which are found on the seal of Our Lady’s University, are drawn from this prayer.

University President Father John Jenkins captured well how deeply our Marian roots run in his Inaugural Address when he spoke about the aftermath of the devastating fire of 1879 which could have marked the end of Notre Dame.

The story of what happened next has been passed down through generations of the Notre Dame family – and has helped shape our aspirations and our sense of who we are. Fr. Sorin walked through the ruins, felt the devastation of the community, and signaled to everyone to enter the Church, where he stood on the altar steps and spoke.

“I came here as a young man and dreamed of building a great university in honor of Our Lady,” he said. “But I built it too small, and she had to burn it to the ground to make the point. So, tomorrow, as soon as the bricks cool, we will rebuild it, bigger and better than ever.” Later that same day, the students saw Father Sorin, then 65 years old, stepping slowly through the ruins of his life’s work, bent slightly forward, pushing a wheelbarrow full of bricks, getting ready to rebuild.

There will be numerous opportunities for all of us to join in the preparations for this joyous celebration.

I hope all of you will celebrate with the Church and with us, as well as with students in Holy Cross institutions throughout the world served by Holy Cross religious.

Father Richard V. Warner, CSC, is the director of Campus Ministry. He can be reached at Warner.2@nd.edu

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.