Biography

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  • Born Basile-Antoine Marie Moreau (Basil Anthony Marie Moreau in English) in Laigné-en-Belin, in the diocese of Le Mans, France, on February 11, 1799. His father was a wine merchant.
  • Baptized by a fugitive priest, since Catholic religious orders during that time were outlawed.
  • Entered St. Vincent’s Seminary in 1816.
  • Ordained in 1821 as a priest for the Diocese of Le Mans.
  • Later became a seminary professor teaching philosophy and theology while enthusiastically continuing pastoral duties.
  • 1835, organized a group of young and energetic priests, known as “auxiliary priests,” whose mission was to travel around the diocese assisting in educational and spiritual growth programs at parishes.
  • 1835, Bishop Jean-Baptiste Bouvier asked him also to oversee the Brothers of St. Joseph, a recently group of educators founded by Fr. Jacques-François Dujarié.
  • March 1, 1837, with the signing of the Fundamental Act, Moreau merged the priests and the brothers forming the Congregation of Holy Cross — taking its name from the town where it was based, Sainte-Croix, or Holy Cross.
  • Moreau’s vision was to complete and maximize the spiritual vigor of Holy Cross — to give it “one heart, one soul” — by modeling it after the Holy Family and bringing into it a group of sisters also involved in education and evangelization. To this day, Moreau is honored as founder by the spiritual descendants of these women, who are known in France as Marianites, in Canada as the Sisters of Holy Cross and in the United States as the Sisters of the Holy Cross. This latter group established Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Ind.
  • Calling on the spiritual aid of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, Moreau gave to each of the three groups a patron: He consecrated the priests to the Sacred Heart of Jesus; he consecrated the brothers to the pure heart of St. Joseph; and he consecrated the sisters to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. He also established Mary, under her title of Our Lady of Sorrows, as special patroness for all of Holy Cross, whose members in their several congregations continue to cherish these devotions.
  • Dedicated to mission work, Moreau sent members of Holy Cross to other countries, including Algeria, the United States, Canada and Bangladesh. He sent seven young men — six brothers and Rev. Edward Sorin, C.S.C. — to the United States, where they founded the University of Notre Dame in 1842.
  • 1857, the Holy See officially declared Moreau’s group to be a religious congregation — the Congregation of Holy Cross. It was required that the sisters break off from this congregation of priests and brothers and the sisters were later approved as separate congregations, as noted above.
  • Moreau later resigned as Superior General mid crises and controversies and disagreements with Fr. Sorin. Moreau lived his last days estranged from his community. Fr. Sorin was the second man elected to succeed Moreau as superior general.
  • Moreau died in Le Mans on January 20, 1873.
  • On September 15, 2007, Fr. Moreau was beatified in Le Mans, France, the city where he lived and died, the home of the Congregation’s Mother Church and the sacred place where he is buried.
  • The Congregation celebrates the life of Blessed Moreau on January 20th of every year.

Portions taken from “Basil Moreau, Founder of Holy Cross” by Gary MacEoi