"I am a priest in order to be a comfort to the widow, the father of the orphan, the protector of the poor, the friend of the sick."
—Fr. Jacques-François Dujarié
On February 17, the Congregation of Holy Cross recognizes Fr. Jacques-François Dujarié, the founder of the Brothers of St. Joseph, who Blessed Basil Moreau would later merge with his Auxiliary priests to form the Congregation of Holy Cross.
Today a Catholic religious order is made up of both priests and brothers is not that uncommon, but in 1835 post-Revolutionary France it was.
The French Revolution dismantled the Catholic Church and left a spiritual and educational void. Men like Fr. Moreau and Fr. Dujarié made it their mission to fill that void, first separately and then together.
Dujarié was born in France on December 9, 1767. He was secretly ordained as a priest in Paris on December 26, 1795 during the height of the Revolution, celebrating his first Mass in the middle of the night in a barn outside of Ruillé-sur-Loir. He would celebrate many Masses this way, forced by the Revolution to become an “underground priest.” During this time, Church property was being seized, priests were being arrested and executed, and religious communities were being expelled from France. Eventually, an agreement in 1801 between Napoleon and Rome resulted in the slow reemergence of religious institutions to France. By January 1803, Fr. Dujarié was able to become a pastor of Ruillé-sur-Loir.
In 1806, Dujarié had founded the Sisters of Providence and later the Brothers of St. Joseph in 1820, both with the mission of reestablishing education institutions to the region. However, the Sisters of Providence were established as their own order in 1831. Because of Fr. Dujarié’s failing health, Bishop Jean-Baptiste Bouvier asked young Father Moreau in 1835 to take over the brothers moving them to Le Mans. The sisters took care of Dujarié until his death on February 17, 1838. At first, Fr. Dujarié was buried in Le Mans, but later the Sisters of Providence requested that his remains be transferred to their motherhouse chapel in Ruillé-sur-Loir.
On March 1, 1837, Moreau united Fr. Dujarié’s Brothers of St. Joseph and his Auxiliary priests through the Fundamental Act thus forming the a single association of priests and brothers to serve the pastoral and educational needs of the French people. Blessed Moreau named his new group Congregatio a Sancta Cruce (C.S.C.), which literally means “Congregation of Holy Cross” named for Sainte-Croix, the small French town outside Le Mans, France.
Read a blog post from Holy Cross seminarian Mark DeMott, C.S.C., who is currently living at Dujarié House at Holy Cross Lake View Senior Secondary School in Jinja, Uganda. Mr. DeMott reflects on the history of Holy Cross and his “Year of the Brother” with the brothers of Dujarie House.