“No one builds alone, we build together” says Fr. Basil Anthony Mary Moreau, the founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross. I came to know about Holy Cross from my uncle who is a Holy Cross priest and afterwards I went to a Catholic school run by the Holy Cross brothers. In Holy Cross, the very first thing I was fascinated with and thought somewhat strange is the idea of living in a community of brotherhood. Where many people of our 21st century societies are trying to demonstrate their own individuality and uniqueness, Holy Cross tries to demonstrate its beauty of brotherhood—a mutual sharing and caring for each other in community life. Although it is living in an opposite direction to the modern secularized trend of the world and seems impossible to many, it is possible, and there is a true Christian joy in it. In my 12 years of walking with Holy Cross as a seminarian I experience it and witness the beauty of it both within my home country, Bangladesh, and across the border. Here in this post, I will share with you my own experience of brotherhood in Holy Cross that supersedes cultural, racial, social and language boundaries.
I entered the priestly formation program of Holy Cross under Sacred Heart of Jesus Province, Bangladesh in 2006. We 25 young men from all over Bangladesh started our formation journey together as a candidate. Although we had some significant racial and cultural differences among us, as candidates of Holy Cross we started living as a community of brothers. Doing so, I began to experience brotherhood in community life of Holy Cross. Coming from a small family, it was a little bit challenging for me in the beginning, but with the friendly attitude and assistance of community brothers in formation I learned to live it and started enjoying it.
In Community we share our life with each other, care for each other, pray together, have common meal, have fun together, stand by each other, and help each other in the growth of all the dimensions of formation (spiritual, human, intellectual and pastoral). These are all life-changing experiences for me. This brotherhood in Holy Cross makes me a person of hope and strengthens my vocation to religious life.
I did my postulancy, novitiate and philosophical studies with Holy Cross in Bangladesh. After finishing my philosophical studies as a temporally professed seminarian, my provincial Fr. James Cruze CSC asked me to come to the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, for my theological studies and join the formation program at Moreau Seminary, Notre Dame, Indiana. It was not a usual thing in the priestly formation program of Holy Cross in Bangladesh, and for that reason, mentally, I was not ready for it. Moreover, it was intimidating for me because I had no idea how my formation and studies would look like, nor did I know anything about American academia, and I was not confident enough to do my graduate studies (in Theology) in a language which is not my own and with which I do not have even a fair familiarity. Additionally, I share nothing (culture, tradition, language, diet) with the people I will have my formation, and am not even in the same province of Holy Cross. The only thing we share in common is our common identity as the members of the Congregation of Holy Cross. As if that were not enough, I also had never crossed my country’s border in my life!
While I was wondering with all these uncertainties, Fr. Mike Delaney, CSC, the director of the Holy Cross Mission center, USA, visited Bangladesh and met me. He gave me an initial heads up about the formation program of the Moreau Seminary and the theological studies at Notre Dame and encouraged me a lot. This meeting gave me a new courage and hope to come to Notre Dame.
By the grace of God my admission and visa processing went well, and I arrived at Notre Dame in June 9, 2017. When I got down from the bus at the main gate of Notre Dame, I found Fr. Mike along with another Holy Cross priest was waiting to welcome and pick us up. Seeing Fr. Mike’s welcoming face, I felt very relaxed and comfortable. Then they drove me up to Moreau Seminary. I was a complete stranger but the formation staff and the seminarian brothers of Moreau, very enthusiastically welcomed me as a part of their community member. This warm welcoming atmosphere fueled my confidence and helped me to feel better with my new community brothers at Moreau Seminary.
I found that from the time of my arrival, the members of the Moreau community (formation staffs, finally professed and my peers in formation) were interested to know me, were open to make friendship with me and were eager to help me. Thus, from the beginning of my life at Moreau, I experienced my community brothers actively helping me in the transition of academics, cultural, and formation program and fueling my growth in all the dimensions of my formation. Consequently, I feel at home and very comfortable with the members of Moreau community and doing well in my studies. I enjoy the brotherhood of Moreau community and consider myself lucky to be part of this community. I can firmly say that the brotherhood of Moreau community helped me to get through all my transitions, worries, and anxieties, and constantly makes me strong to face my difficulties in studies, language and culture.
This is the beauty of the unique brotherhood of Holy Cross that supersedes any kind of culture, social and language boundaries. The constitutions of Holy Cross say that “[Community] is essential to our mission that we strive to abide so attentively together that people will observe: “See how they love one another.” We will then be a sign in an alienated world: Men who have, for love of their Lord, become closest neighbors, trustworthy friends, brothers” (Constitution 4:42). I compare the brotherhood in community life of Holy Cross with the attracting and transforming principal of a magnet. It attracts whoever comes closer to it, makes him part of it and unconditionally shares all its good qualities with him, and transforms him into a magnet who becomes able to work together as part of it to transform the world.
Mr. Tias A. Gomes, CSC stared his journey with Holy Cross in Bangladesh as a candidate in 2006. He professed his first vows in 2014. Then he completed his philosophical studies for two years in Bangladesh. He came to Notre Dame, Indiana in 2017 for his theological studies and joined the formation program at Moreau Seminary, Notre Dame.