The Spirit of Holy Cross: John Soisson

Mr John Soisson

Back on September 15, the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, the Indiana Province of the Congregation of Holy Cross named the eight recipients of the 2010 Spirit of Holy Cross award, which is given to lay collaborators who serve with the Congregation in the United States and abroad. Today, one of the recipients, John Soisson, the Special Assistant to the President at the University of Portland, shares his reflections on what it has meant to him to be a part of the Holy Cross family and its mission.

I’m not sure who I should thank for the Spirit of Holy Cross Award, but I guess that’s the way it should be. So much of what Holy Cross does is egoless; it’s the community that matters. So for this great honor I thank Holy Cross. But Holy Cross is not faceless and nameless to me, so I thank the long line of men who have welcomed me over the years.

The first face it had for me was the curious and open face of Fr. Art Schoenfeldt. I had been working at the University of Portland for just a few weeks when Art stopped me in a parking lot one evening while I was on my way home from work. I had had a bad day, Art sensed it, and for two hours he talked with me while we sat on a bench at the edge of campus.

Throughout the 29 years I have been at the University there have been a lot of other talks with a lot of other CSCs. Each time, the result was the same: I found peace. I didn’t know when I first showed up on campus back in 1982 that I had found a home, but I surely did. And it has made all the difference in my life.

From the very first day I was never a stranger to Holy Cross. The priests and brothers welcomed me like I was one of the family. One of the things about living in a family is that you do what you need to do for the good of the household and you don’t even think twice about it. That’s how it has been with me and Holy Cross. If I have done anything that has served or helped, it was because I was part of the family and I just did what was needed of me. I didn’t get any awards from my birth family so it seems unusual to get one from my Holy Cross family. The truth is that I should be giving something to all of my Holy Cross friends to thank them for all they have given to me and for letting me ‘live’ with them for so long.

I’ve said many times over the years that if I ever save my soul it will be because of the men of Holy Cross I have known. They have been my friends, my guides, my pastors. Who could ever ask for more than that?

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