“Holy Cross Today, Fulfilling Blessed Moreau’s Vision” Homily given at Moreau Day Mass 2014

Moreau Day Mass, Basilica of the Sacred Heart (Jan

Read the homily given by Provincial Superior Rev. Thomas J. O’Hara, C.S.C., at the Mass commemorating the life of Blessed Basil Moreau, founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross,on Monday, Jan. 20, 2014, at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on the campus of the University of Notre Dame.

Sons and daughters of Basil Moreau, today we celebrate the life and vision of the founder of Holy Cross, Blessed Basil Moreau. This bold French priest, in a most difficult time in the history of France, envisioned a community of men and women who would serve God’s people in his native France and beyond. And his vision in mysterious ways has brought each of us into this community we call Holy Cross, some of us in this Basilica as vowed religious and some of us as lay individuals still touched by Moreau’s vision.

We are men and women of different talents, different vocations, but united in one purpose. Basil Moreau in 1841 in Circular Letter 14 spoke of his family of sisters, brothers and priests when he said “Here not withstanding differences of temperament and talent and differences of vocation we are one in the glory of God which is the foundation of the unity and strength of Holy Cross. For our community spirit must be promoted by humility, meekness and charitable forbearance of others.”

In a real way, Moreau echoes the same sentiments of St. Paul as Paul states in today’s first reading that though we have different gifts we all called to One Body, One Spirit. Only when we bear with one another through love can we together build up the Body of Christ. Paul is clear: humility and charity towards one another are the key elements to Unity in Christ. Similarly for Moreau such are the qualities humility and charity, necessary for a Unified Holy Cross.

In that circular letter of 1841 Moreau humbly describes himself only as an instrument of God and that as only God’s instrument he would be replaced by other individuals or instruments of God who would follow in his words, even in Africa and America.” Oh how gratified Moreau be today to see what has happened to his family in those 2 places, Africa and America!

Final Vows East Africa 2013

Africa … two weeks ago I had the privilege to see the results of Moreau’s vision in Africa. In East Africa, seven young men from both priests and brothers societies made Perpetual Vows within Holy Cross. These men worked side by side with Holy Cross sisters during their formative years and those Holy Cross sisters were among the hundreds who attended the ceremony. Indeed, at the philosophy center at which these men studied, the Dean of Academic Affairs is a Sister of the Holy Cross. Women from different parts of Africa are in formation to become Holy Cross sisters. The family that Moreau envisioned of priests, brothers and sisters is very much alive in Africa. And just last week on the other side of the African continent, in Ghana, 13 young men made their first vows as Holy Cross brothers.

Holy Cross in America … We span this wide country from one coast to another and here we are, hundreds gathered in this special home of Holy Cross in America. In this area the educational institutions of the brothers, sisters and priests of Holy Cross have educated hundreds of thousands, cultivating their minds and hearts … and not just in classrooms, but parishes and in various social ministries. Holy Cross men and women are touching lives and educating in the faith. Yes, in 1841 Moreau spoke of a hope for Holy Cross in Africa and America. Today, he would be well pleased at what Holy Cross has accomplished on both continents.

But he would be the first to warn us not to get caught up in our apparent success. He humbly described himself only as an instrument of God’s grace; called to bring hope to men and women who most needed God’s touch. Whether we are administrators, pastors, scholars, teachers or marching to Washington let us remain as humble as our founder. Never to get caught up in our own self-righteousness, but constantly remind ourselves that we are simply instruments’ of God’s work on earth. And more specifically Moreau’s message resonates with the Gospel reading of today, that we must pick up our crosses and follow the Lord. As men and women of Holy Cross we know ironically that in the Cross is our only hope. Moreau knew that personally, being personally rejected at the last stages of his life, he never gave up, he never was overwhelmed by his cross, but it was in embracing the cross, he gave new life to his community, life that we celebrate today. He died carrying his cross so that we might flourish. So too, we, despite our struggles, our crosses, be they physical, emotional or rejection by society, we like Moreau never give up, for we are the men and women of Holy Cross.

March for Life 2013

Part of that cross occurs as we might be castigated for our beliefs. Moreau was willing to challenge the culture of his time and so must we.Tonight we bless our sisters and brothers here with us who stand up and speak for life against a culture of death. We never give into the culture that values some lives more than others using the world’s criteria of wealth power or privilege and most basically of all we never give in to a culture that denies the very sacredness of life itself and all too easily disposes of apparently unwanted life. These our brothers and sisters, part of the Holy Cross family are willing to publically carry that cross, challenging our culture and our political structures to protect the most vulnerable among us. We pray for all of you, our sisters and brothers in Holy Cross.

And so let us take great pride today in the commemoration of the life of Blessed Basil Moreau. All of us, vowed religious and those influenced by Holy Cross, all of us today celebrate him and his vision. We pray that we may be as he was, simply seeing ourselves as instruments of God’s grace, bringing God’s love and compassion to men and women who most need it in their lives. And with all of our weaknesses and all of our struggles, all of us in this Basilica proudly embrace the Cross, for it is our only hope. May God bless us each individually this evening and may God bless Holy Cross.

Father Thomas O'Hara

Rev. Thomas J. O’Hara, C.S.C., is provincial superior of the United States Province of Priests and Brothers. He was received into the Congregation of Holy Cross on Aug. 18, 1971, and made his First Profession of Vows on Aug. 3, 1974. He made his Final Vows on Sept. 9, 1977; and was ordained to the priesthood on June 10, 1978. He was elected Provincial Superiorby the Provincial Chapter in Portland, Ore., on Friday, June 15, 2012 (Feast Day of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus).

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