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Students, officials will celebrate Moreau

Joseph McMahon | Tuesday, September 11, 2007

One hundred seventy years after Father Basil Moreau founded the Congregation of Holy Cross in Le Mans, France, Notre Dame students, faculty and administrators will travel to the site to celebrate his beatification for three days of ceremonies to celebrate Moreau’s life, beginning Friday.

Father Richard Warner, director of campus ministry at Notre Dame, described the importance of the beatification for the Notre Dame community.

“For all of us, it is a very special moment,” he said. “He was a great educator, and during our time as priests and brothers we have been educators.”

Warner is a member of the official party that will be closely involved in the weekend’s festivities. The official party consists of 800 people – 15 from each Holy Cross province across the globe, as well as administrators from each of the Holy Cross schools and all the Holy Cross bishops.

In addition to Warner, Notre Dame’s delegation will include University President Father John Jenkins; Richard C. Notebaert, chair of the University’s Board of Trustees; Executive Vice President John Affleck-Graves; Associate Vice President Father James E. McDonald; Provost Thomas G. Burish; John Cavadini, the director of the Institute for Church Life; and Vice President for Student Affairs Father Mark Poorman.

In addition to the official group, 65 Notre Dame students studying in Europe – mainly in Angers, Dublin, London, Toledo and Rome – will attend the beatification ceremony.

A dinner will be held for Notre Dame students and the delegation Thursday night. On Friday, students will visit historic sites in Le Mans, including Notre Dame du Sainte Croix (the mother church of the Congregation of the Holy Cross), the birthplace of Moreau and the Holy Cross cemetery. Also on Friday, the official Notre Dame delegation will attend a restricted service in Notre Dame du Sainte Croix before meeting with the students to attend a separate service held at the Cathédrale St-Julien.

Jenkins will then host a reception for the official party and the students. Afterwards, the townspeople of Le Mans will put on a sound and light show.

“The entire town will be filled with music and the great medieval walls will be completely lit up,” Warner said. “It will really be quite a sight, and it really shows how much respect the people of Father Moreau’s town have for him.”

On Saturday, Bishop Jaques Maurice Faivre will preside over the Mass of the beatification in the Centre Antares arena, during which Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins will read a letter from Pope Benedict XVI establishing Moreau as blessed. A five-foot painting of him will then be unfurled in front of the entire crowd, which organizers expect to number around 8,000. Subsequently, a wine and cheese reception will be held for all those in attendance, after which the students and the official party will go out to dinner in downtown Le Mans.

The schedule of events will conclude Sunday with a Mass of Thanksgiving at the cathedral in Le Mans by Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, archbishop emeritus of the Archdiocese of Washington.

Students will then return to their study abroad locations, and the Notre Dame delegation will return to the United States.

Celebrations will continue, however, during the remainder of the year as different groups host campus events to honor Moreau and his legacy.

“I don’t think Father Moreau ever could have expected what he started 170 years ago,” McDonald said. “It really shows that you never know what your life’s work will amount to. It is a great honor for Notre Dame and all those affiliated with the Order of the Holy Cross, and it provides us with great motivation for the future.”