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Basilica mass marks beatification of founder of Holy Cross order

Gene Noone | Friday, September 21, 2007

The beatification of Father Basil Moreau was celebrated Thursday at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart with a mass of thanksgiving and the installment of a statue of Moreau in the Basilica’s northwest chapel.

The mass marked the first campus celebration of Moreau’s beatification since the official ceremony last Saturday in Le Mans, France.

University President Father John Jenkins presided over the mass. Also in attendance were Cardinal Roger Mahony, the archbishop of Los Angeles, Bishop Ponen Paul Kubi, the bishop of Mymensingh, Bangladesh, and members of the Holy Cross community.

The campus celebration gave those who could not make the trip across the Atlantic the opportunity to honor Moreau and his achievement for the Congregation of the Holy Cross.

A highlight of the mass was the blessing by Cardinal Mahony of a new statue of Moreau.

The statue, a full body bronze sculpture about six feet tall, was designed and carved by world famous Los Angeles sculptor Robert Graham.

Graham, known for his bas-relief pieces, sculpted the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial in Washington, D.C., the Duke Ellington Monument in Central Park in New York City and the Olympic Gateway at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for the 1984 Olympic Games.

The statue of Moreau was installed in the northwest apsidal chapel across from the statue of Holy Cross’ other beatified member, Blessed Brother Andre Bessette.

The installment of the statue in the Basilica was part of the larger beatification celebration, which took place mostly in France.

Those who went to Le Mans as part of the University delegation returned earlier this week.

Father Edwin Obermiller spent eight days in France and served as a chaplain and guide for the 55 Notre Dame students who were part of the beatification events.

“The beatification honors our past and allows us to look to the future with great excitement and hope,” Obermiller said. “It was an amazing experience, and I was thrilled to be with so many of our Notre Dame students at the beatification.”

The 55 Notre Dame students were part of more than 4,000 people who attended the nearly two-hour beatification mass, Obermiller said.

Also at the mass were 30 bishops and archbishops, two cardinals, 260 priests who co-celebrated the mass, and the prime minister of France and his wife.

“Many of the students expressed that by being at the beatification and meeting so many of the Holy Cross religious from around the world that it allowed them to realize how much bigger Holy Cross is beyond the campus of Notre Dame,” Obermiller said.

Other beatification events included a mass at the Church of the Visitation in Le Mans where Moreau was ordained in 1821 and a multilingual prayer vigil at Notre-Dame de Sainte-Croix, the parish where Moreau’s tomb is located.

Obermiller said the beatification has allowed the community to pause at the start of the school year and reflect on Moreau’s spirit, wisdom and grace as the founder of Holy Cross.