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University to celebrate Moreau’s beatification

Molly Madden | Monday, January 18, 2010

In honor of the third anniversary of the beatification of Blessed Fr. Basil Moreau, the founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross, the University of Notre Dame will celebrate with a series on events titled “Holy Cross: Faith in our Future.”

The celebrations, which will take place this week, will include commemorative Masses, lectures and discussions on the Holy Cross religious order and the vital role Moreau’s mission continues to play today.

“Fr. Moreau is important because he was instrumental in the direction of the Holy Cross order,” the rector of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart Fr. Peter Rocca said. “This University would never have been established without him.”

Moreau founded the Congregation of the Holy Cross in the 19th century in Le Mans, France. Shortly after the formation, Moreau sent Fr. Edward Sorin to Indiana to establish the University of Notre Dame.

Rocca said education was one of Moreau’s greatest passions and one of the purposes of celebrating his Feast Day on Jan. 20 is to make the Notre Dame community aware of how this mission is being lived out today at the University.

“Part of our mission as educators at this school is to provide an education that doesn’t just touch mind but that touches the heart as well,” Rocca said. “Education at most schools doesn’t touch on the faith aspects, but Holy Cross is about living out this education mission of Fr. Moreau so Notre Dame is going to be different.”

Fr. Gregory Haake, who has studied the life and works of Moreau, said the communal vision Moreau had for his order is very visible and characterizes the atmosphere of Notre Dame’s campus.

“Fr. Moreau formed his order based on his vision of the Holy Family,” Haake said. “It is not a coincidence that the sense of family translate to Notre Dame today; it is a direct result of Fr. Moreau’s vision for the Congregation of Holy Cross.”

Haake will preside over the commemorative Mass on Jan. 20. He said his homily will discuss Moreau’s sense of mission that motivated him throughout his life.

“It’s always been difficult to characterize Holy Cross because Fr. Moreau’s mission was simply to meet the needs of the community,” he said. “The desire to meet needs wherever they are was what drove Fr. Moreau to find the order in the first place.”

Many of the lectures scheduled for the week will discuss the motto of the Congregation of the Holy Cross, “Ave Crux Spes Unica” and its contemporary meaning.

“Our motto translates as ‘Hail to the Cross, our only hope’ and it shows how the cross is essential to the life of any Christian,” Rocca said. “Fr. Moreau tried to show us that through the Cross we’re saved but that we are invited to carry other people’s Crosses.”

Haake says he believes that “Ave Crux Spes Unica” is a very simple principle that gives innumerable advantages.

“A life anchored in Christ and the Cross means that one can do anything,” he said. “As Holy Cross religious members we try to live our ordinary lives with extraordinary virtue.”

Both men believe the mission of the Cross continues to be fulfilled by the student body at Notre Dame.

“At graduation, 10 percent of our students go into volunteer service,” Rocca said. “I think that’s a testament to our students living out Fr. Moreau’s mission.”

Haake said he hopes learning more about Fr. Moreau and his works during this celebration week will help the student body to understand that the educational mission of Moreau affects their daily lives during their time at Notre Dame.

“If we want to be true to Fr. Moreau’s mission for education then Notre Dame students should leave here not just to be successful in their careers but to also be successful in virtue,” Haake said. “I hope that the University inspires a zeal for the mission that Fr. Moreau left us and that we can transform the students on that level.”