It took us a little while to make good on our promise, but today we are proud to post for you the text from Fr. Frank Murphy, C.S.C.'s homily at Holy Cross' annual Mass of Thanksgiving for its Jubilarians. It was well worth the wait to get this Spes Unica exclusive as it is a masterful homily underscoring what it means to be a Holy Cross priest or brother serving God's people. Join us one more time in giving thanks for our Holy Cross Jubiliarians and their 1,110 faithful years of service!
I think this characterizes the priesthood and brotherhood in Holy Cross: We are priests and brothers who are in the world, with the people, sharing their life, their struggles – searching for God together. Jesus in today's gospel (John 17: 6, 14-21) says that He has sent His disciples into the world, just as He was sent into the world by the Father. They are not of the world because they belong to Jesus and not to the evil one. But they are to be in the world, as Jesus was in the world, living with the people, sharing their struggles, helping to make God's love known in the joys and sorrows of life. As our constitutions say, we are to be "men with hope to bring." And so, as Jesus' mission was coming to an end, He consecrates His disciples to continue His mission in the world.
A board member at one of our universities recently shared at dinner about an encounter he had with a Holy Cross priest when he was a student. The priest was his teacher. He said that the encounter changed his life. One day the priest challenged him after class: "You're a good student, but you are not working up to your potential." That challenge woke him up, he said. The fact that father would take such an interest in him made him think about his life and goals. He did change his ways, and today is a top executive at a major corporation and serving on the board of a Holy Cross Institution for the Holy Cross president who was that teacher. That encounter might not have happened if we didn't see ourselves as in the classroom to help the student reach his or her God given potential.
When I entered Holy Cross, we were in three of te toughest places in world at that time: Idi Amin's Uganda; Pinochet's Chile where after a coup many of our priests were made to leave or were tortured because they worked and lived among people; and Bangladesh, which had only a few years earlier suffered a civil war. I remember returning missionaries talking about running from the bullets of strafing airplanes. They were still there, in the midst of war, with the people.
Last Fall, as local religious superior at the University of Portland, it was my job to inform the man chosen to receive the "Spirit of Holy Cross Award" that he had been chosen. When I told him, he was deeply moved and said that he had been praying daily to Blessed Moreau, our Founder, for many years. Praying daily to our Founder! Now it was my turn to be moved. I don't pray daily to Blessed Moreau; and I won't embarrass my brothers here by asking for a show of hands of how many of them pray daily to our Founder. You, our partners in the mission, preach the Word to us as well, broadening our knowledge of our mission and of God's presence and action in this world.