ABOUT FR. BASIL MOREAU, C.S.C.
THE FOUNDER OF HOLY CROSS
Below the St. Edward crest on the sign in front of the school reads, "Congregation of Holy Cross, Notre Dame, IN.” It is the most public symbol of the school’s Holy Cross affiliation, and a reminder that the St. Edward mission is more than just educating young men, but educating young men in the Holy Cross tradition.
It is a tradition that dates back to post-Revolutionary War France, where in the midst of religious and political instability that was dividing the nation, a religious leader named Fr. Basil Moreau emerged on a mission to rebuild, while spreading the Gospel so others would live more faith-based lives. He equated his drive to "a flame of burning desire which one feels to make God known and served, and thus save souls.”
In concert with a group of auxiliary priests and the Brothers of St. Joseph, Moreau founded the Congregation of Holy Cross in 1837. His vision was to create one large Christian family that included the priests, brothers and sisters of Holy Cross, as well as the laity, to spread his Holy Cross mission throughout the world. He developed unique educational philosophies with the goal of educating the hearts, minds and hands of young people, so they might live more Christ-like lives.
Moreau’s vision came to fruition, and today members of the Holy Cross family serve throughout the world in countries as distant as Bangladesh, Kenya and India. Holy Cross priests, brothers and sisters, also operate 32 parishes, 19 high schools, and seven colleges and universities – each continuing to spread Moreau’s original mission – both educational and spiritual.
On Saturday, Sept. 15, 2007, Fr. Basil Moreau was beatified in recognition of his significant contributions to Catholicism. His beatification means he is now declared Blessed by the Church – a declaration that is preceded by a two-part process examining his life, virtues, writings and reputation for holiness; and the third of four steps on the way to being declared a saint. For the Congregation of Holy Cross, his beatification further proves the importance of his life, teachings, and his educational values that shape St. Edward High School and other Holy Cross institutions.
To celebrate the significant accomplishments of the Holy Cross founder, St. Edward High School hosted a Beatification Liturgy, celebrated by Bishop Richard G. Lennon of the Cleveland Catholic Diocese. During the celebration Bishop Lennon noted, "Moreau had a particular vision – a gift from God meant to be lived, shared and passed on.”
Moreau’s educational philosophies have been passed on to schools like St. Edward, who live the Holy Cross mission every day, educating to completeness, so students will have the knowledge to live the Christian lives that Moreau envisioned.
In 1856, Fr. Moreau published Christian Education, outlining the goals and ideals of a Holy Cross education, and with those goals and ideals as guidelines, he opened Our Lady of Holy Cross in Le Mans, France. Nearly two centuries later, his goals and ideals remain the backbone for Holy Cross schools at all education levels, with his ultimate goal being the "formation of the hearts of young people and the development of a positive response toward religion within them.” His vision of the Holy Cross education is one that reforms the hearts of young people, teaching them to be more like Christ – the essence of "educating to completeness.”
Moreau’s mandate was also for inclusive education, in a time when formal learning was exclusive, reserved only for the upperclass in European society. He sought to make Christian education available to all, no matter the social status, not only in France, but around the globe. His family-oriented philosophy included roles to be played by priests, brothers, sisters and their associates, working together to put his educational mission into action.
And, in a time when institutions were offering only classical education of literature, philosophy and geometry, Moreau’s mission was to do more – to educate to completeness by developing the minds, hearts and hands of young Christians. While he certainly saw the importance of educating the mind with classic lessons in literature, philosophy, science and mathematics, he saw equal importance in developing the heart through music, poetry and fine arts; and the hands through service to others. Moreau’s schools also included sports teams to foster competition and develop the body, and marching bands to allow students to become active in music - revolutionary educational principles for the time.
At St. Edward High School, Fr. Moreau’s mission of more than 150-years ago is put to work each day in the classrooms, on the practice fields, and among the community. With Christian Education as the guide, each student is taught the importance of being more Christ-like by following the ideals of faithfulness, knowledge, zeal, vigilance, seriousness, gentleness, patience and prudence.
For those other than recent alumni, Moreau’s vision was not often articulated, but it was embodied by the Brothers of Holy Cross that played such a large role in each facet of the St. Edward education. Religion teacher Rosemary Torrence explains that most alumni experienced Moreau’s mission through the example of the Brothers of Holy Cross. Today, while the administration and teachers continue to serve as examples of Holy Cross principles, the students are made more aware of Moreau and his ideals.
"St. Edward High School is the result of this man’s approach to education,” says Ms. Torrence. "We are living the mission of the Holy Cross community.”
And as the school continues to formally celebrate Blessed Fr. Basil Moreau’s beatification, St. Edward students, faculty and staff will continue to keep his spirit alive through diligence in the classroom, sportsmanship on the playing fields, and service to the community – living the mission of educating the minds and hearts of young men to have the competence to see and the courage to act as men of faith.