Father Basil Moreau to be beatified Sept. 15 in France

Author: Dennis Brown and Michael O. Garvey


The Vatican Secretariat of State announced earlier this month that the Venerable Basil Moreau, C.S.C., founder of the Holy Cross Priests, Brothers and Sisters, will be beatified Sept. 15 in Le Mans, France, the place of his ministry and death.

The University of Notre Dame was founded as a project of the Holy Cross order in 1842 and continues to rely on Moreaus followers for its administration, inspiration and communion in the Catholic Church.

A person who isbeatifiedby the Catholic Church has significantly advanced towardcanonization,or the status of being officially and solemnly proclaimed a saint.

Father Moreau was born Feb. 11, 1799, in the FrenchvillageofLaigne-en-Belinto a poor family of wine peddlers, the ninth of 14 children.He attended a parish school where his prayerfulness and intellectual acumen were soon noticed by the pastor.Persuaded that he was called to the priesthood, his parents sent him to a preparatory seminary, and he was ordained by the time he had reached the age of 22.

Father Moreau quickly earned a reputation as an absorbing and inspiring preacher.He became a popular seminary teacher and administrator, as remarkable for his strong character and iron will as for his personal piety and care for the outcast.

If you have a marked preference for certain people,he instructed his students,it should be for the poorest, the most abandoned …the least gifted by nature …If you surround them with the most assiduous attention, it is because their needs are greater, and it is only justice to give more to those who have received less.

As a priest of the diocese ofLe Mans, Father Moreau established in 1837 the Association of Holy Cross, consisting of two societies, one of men (brothers and priests) and one of women, for the principal purpose of the education of young people and evangelization. His best-known follower was Rev. Edward F. Sorin, C.S.C., Notre Dames founder. Moreau died in 1873.

The cause for Father Moreaus beatification was introduced in 1946, but it was not until 1955 that the cause was presented for consideration by theVaticans Congregation for the Causes of Saints. This congregation studied the life, writings and spirituality of Father Moreau and, after a definitive presentation of the study on his virtues in 1994, the congregation recommended to Pope John PaulII in 2003 that he declare Father Moreaus practice of the theological and cardinal virtues to be heroic in nature. Pope John PaulII issued the declaration and bestowed on Father Moreau the titlevenerableon April12, 2003. After further study and the unanimous acceptance of a miraculous cure attributed to Father Moreaus intercession, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints recommended last year to Pope BenedictXVI that Father Moreau be declared Blessed.

Today there are four Holy Cross congregations – the Congregation of Holy Cross (priests and brothers), and three congregations of women: the Marianites of Holy Cross (France), the Sisters of the Holy Cross (Indiana), and the Sisters of the Holy Cross (Montreal).

Since their beginnings the four Holy Cross congregations have grown and spread throughout the world.In theSouth Bendarea, the priests are known for founding Notre Dame; the brothers, forHolyCrossCollegeandHolyCrossVillageat Notre Dame; and the Sisters of the Holy Cross, for Saint Marys College andSaint JosephsRegionalMedicalCenter.All three congregations minister in parishes, educational institutions, and social and pastoral ministries in the local community.p. Members of the Holy Cross congregations serve in North and South America, Africa andAsiato further the educational and pastoral vision of their founder.

_ *Information provided by Holy Cross congregations and the Catholic News Service contributed to this report.

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