Superior General and Council
The highest governing authority in the Congregation of Holy Cross is the General Chapter. It is an assembly composed of ex-officio and elected delegates from all Provinces and Vicariates. A unique feature of a Holy Cross General Chapter is that it must have of an equal number of priest and brother delegates, a principle known in the Congregation as parity. This parity is also reflected in the membership of the General Council.
One of the main responsibilities of the General Chapter, which ordinarily meets every six years, is to elect the Superior General, the Vicar General, and the Second General Assistant. The Superior General, in consultation with these two elected Assistants, must appoint at least fwo, and may appoint up to four, additional General Assistants, to form the General Council. The Superior General, with the help of the General Council, is personally charged with the pastoral and administrative leadership of the Congregation. The most recent General Chapter took place in 2010.
The following members of the Congregation are serving as Superior General and on the General Council.
Fr. Robert L. Epping, C.S.C.
Father Robert Epping was born on August 13, 1944, in Burlington, Wisconsin, in the United States. As a seminarian with Holy Cross, he received his Bachelor's Degree in Philosophy from the University of Notre Dame. After studying theology for two years at the Pontifical Gregorian University, he returned to Notre Dame and graduated with his Master of Theology in 1970. He took Final Vows on May 18, 1970, and then was ordained a priest on December 19 of that same year. After Ordination, Fr. Epping served for two years at St. Bernard’s Parish, in Watertown, Wisconsin. In 1973, he began studies at the Institute of Spirituality at the Pontifical Gregorian University where he earned the S.T.L. In 1975, he returned to St. Bernard’s Parish where he served for three years as Associate Pastor and then as Pastor from 1978-1985. Fr. Epping was appointed Pastor of Christ the King Parish in South Bend, Indiana, in 1985 and served there until his appointed as Assistant Provincial for the Indiana Province in 1994. After serving in Provincial Administration for nine years and a sabbatical year, Fr. Epping was named Pastor at Sacred Heart Parish, in Colorado Springs, Colorado. At the General Chapter of 2010, he was appointed to General Council by Fr. Richard V. Warner, C.S.C. As the Sixth General Assistant, Fr. Epping participated in the Planning Task Force that studied the Congregation's structures and consulted with the membership in order to prepare the way for the structural and financial reforms of the 2016 General Chapter. While on the General Council in Fr. Warner's Administration, Fr. Epping continued to serve in parochial ministry, to which he has dedicated most of his priesthood in Holy Cross. After his nine-year term as Pastor concluded at Sacred Heart Parish in 2013, he was assigned in to Holy Cross and St. Stanislaus Parish in South Bend, Indiana. Fr. Epping was still serving there as Pastor when the 2016 General Chapter elected him the Congregation's 13th Superior General. He is a member of the United States Province (Notre Dame, Indiana).
Br. Paul Bednarczyk, C.S.C.
Vicar General, First General Assistant
Brother Paul Bednarczyk, C.S.C., was born in New Haven, Connecticut, and is a 1975 graduate of Notre Dame High School in West Haven. Inspired by the brothers and their vocation at Notre Dame, Br. Paul entered the former Eastern Province of Brothers in 1975 and began his formation at Moreau Hall on the campus of Stonehill College in Easton, Massachusetts. He professed his First Vows in 1979 in Sacred Heart Church in Bennington, Vermont, and later his Final Vows in 1985 at St. Joseph Center in Valatie, New York. During this time, Br. Paul graduated from Stonehill College with a Bachelor’s Degree in English and from Fordham University in New York, New York, with a Master’s Degree in Religion and Religious Education with a concentration in spirituality. After 12 years working as a teacher, administrator, and campus minister at Bishop McNamara High School in Forestville, Maryland, and Notre Dame International School in Rome, Italy, Br. Paul served as Vocation Director for his province for nine years. He also worked for three years as Formation Director and has served several terms on his Provincial Council. In July of 2002, Br. Paul assumed the role of Executive Director of the National Religious Vocation Conference (NRVC), where he oversaw this professional organization of religious vocation directors consisting of over 900 members in 15 countries. Within this capacity, he served as a consultant to the U.S. Bishops Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations. He has served as a member of the Advisory Board of Praesidium Religious Services, the Corporate Board of Holy Cross Family Ministries, and on several international Holy Cross commissions. Br. Paul has published several articles on vocation ministry. In addition to his retreat work, he has been invited to give workshops in vocation ministry throughout North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. Br. Paul spearheaded four major studies on religious vocations, the most famous being the 2009 NRVC/CARA Study on Recent Vocations to Religious Life. At the invitation of Cardinal Sean O’Malley, in 2009, he addressed the entire assembly of U.S. bishops on the study results. Br. Paul was still serving as Executive Director of NRVC when the 2016 General Chapter elected him the Congregation's First General Assistant and Vicar. In this new leadership role, he now resides in Rome in the Holy Cross Generalate, where he works fulltime. Br. Paul is a member of the Moreau Province (Austin, Texas).
Fr. KJ Abraham, C.S.C.
Second General Assistant
Father KJ Abraham, C.S.C., was born in the State of Kerala, in South India, on March 23, 1966 as the seventh and last child of the (late) Mr. Jeseph Kochupurakal and Mrs. Annamma Joseph. Both parents were devout Catholics, who led the family in prayers at home and took their children to liturgies in the Church. Fr. Abraham first met Holy Cross in his secondary school when Fr. C.V. Jose, C.S.C., visited and shared with the students about the missionary activities of the Congregation in North East India. The presentation caught the imagination of the young Fr. Abraham, who was a member of his parish’s Mission League. He joined Holy Cross in the summer of 1982 and began his formation program in Aymanam, Kerala. After completing his college studies at St. Joseph’s College in Bangalore, Fr. Abraham went to the Holy Cross Novitiate in Yercaud in Tamil Nadu, where on May 30, 1989, he made his First Profession of Vows along with six classmates. He made his Final Profession on January 6, 1996, during the last year of his theological studies at the Congregation’s major seminary in Pune. After completing his diaconate ministry at a Holy Cross parish in Tripura in North East India, he was ordained on January 15, 1997, in his home parish of St. George Churgh in Kanichar. In his first assignment, he was Principal of Br. André English Medium School in Bodhjungnagar, Tripura, and worked at the local parish as Parochial Vicar. In 2000, Fr. Abraham went to Rome to receive a Licentiate in Clinic Psychology and Vocational Counseling from the Greorgian University. He returned to India in May 2004 to become the Director of Novices at the Novitiate in Yercaud, a position he held until 2011 when he became the Pastor at St. André Parish. On May 23, 2012, Fr. Abraham was elected Superior of the Province of North East India. He was still serving as Provincial Superior when the 2016 General Chapter elected him the Second General Assistant. Fr. Abraham was a delegate at the General Chapter and worked on the Vocations and Formation Committee. Having stepped down as Provincial Superior, he now resides and works fulltime at the Holy Cross Generalate in Rome. He is a member of the Province of North East India (Argatala, Tripura).
Br. James Ripon Gomes, C.S.C.
Third General Assistant
Brother James Ripon Gomes was born on May 1, 1971, in St. John the Baptist Parish, 20 miles from Dhaka, Bangladesh. He came to know the Congregation in 1984 after enrolling in the St. Nicholas High School and Hostel in Dhaka, which is administered by the Holy Cross Brothers. The following year, in 1985, while in eighth grade, he entered the Juniorate Program with the Holy Cross Brothers. After three years in the Juniorate and then three years in the Aspirancy, Br. James entered the Novitiate. After professing First Vows on January 29, 1991, he went to study at the Holy Cross Scholasticate in Dhaka from 1992-1995. In 1996, Br. James spent one year teaching at St. Placid’s High School in Chittagong before becoming Director of the Juniorate Program for St. Joseph’s Province (1997-1998). He professed his Final Vows in the Congregation on February 1, 1998. Since then, most of his work has been in initial formation, including as Director of the Aspirancy Program (1999-2007, 2010-2013) and most recently as Director of the Scholasticate (2013-2016). During these years, Br. James completed a formation course at Southeast Asia Interdisciplinary Development Institute in Antipolo City in the Philippines. He also completed a Master’s in Formative Counseling from Da La Salle University in the Philippines. Br. James was working as the Director of the Scholasticate of the St. Joseph Province when Fr. Epping appointed him as the Third General Assistant. In this new leadership role, Br. James has left his work in Bangladesh and resides in the Holy Cross Generalate in Rome where he works fulltime as a member of the General Administration. Br. James is a member of the St. Joseph Province (Dhaka, Bangaldesh).
Fr. Leopold Temba, C.S.C.
Fourth General Assistant
Father Leopold Temba was born on November 27, 1976, in Moshi, Tanzania. The name of the Congregation of Holy Cross caught his attention in a vocational booklet as he was finishing his secondary schooling. Fr. Temba entered the Holy Cross postulancy program in Uganda on July 12, 2000. In June 2003, he entered the Holy Cross Novitiate Lake Saaka in Fort Portal, Uganda, making his First Profession on June 26, 2004. He then continued his initial formation at the Congregation’s House of Formation in Kenya, including a pastoral year at St. Brendan Parish in Kitete, Tanzania. He professed Final Vows in the Congregation on August 15, 2008, and was ordained a priest on August 2, 2009. Fr. Temba’s first assignment was as the Director of Vocations for the District of East Africa, a responsibility he held until May 2014. During that time, he also served from January 2012 to May 2014 as the Assistant Superior of the District. Then in August 2014 he began doctoral studies in Dogmatic Theology at Catholic University of Eastern Africa in Nairobi, Kenya. Fr. Temba was an Observer at the 2016 General Chapter, participating in the Vocations and Formation Committee. Having been appointed a part-time General Assistant by Fr. Epping, Fr. Temba is continuing his doctoral studies as he serves on the General Council. He is a member of the District of East Africa (Jinja, Uganda).
Br. Nicholas Arthur, C.S.C.
Fifth General Assistant
Brother Nicholas Arthur was born on September 5, 1979, in Anyinam, which is in Eastern Ghana. His family, however, hails from Enchi in the Western region of Ghana. He came to know Holy Cross as a student at St. John’s School Sekondi, where Br. William Gates, C.S.C., was a critical inspiration in nurturing his vocation. He entered the Congregation in 1997, and after several years in the postulant program and then a year at the Novitiate, Br. Nicholas made his First Profession on June 7, 2003. Just over four years later, on December 2, 2007, he made his Final Profession. During his initial formation, he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Science Education from Cape Coast University. In addition to working as a chemistry teacher, much of Br. Nicholas’s ministry in Holy Cross has been in formation. After serving a year on the Novitiate Staff in Ghana, he went in 2008 to study Religious Formation and Spirituality in Kenya. During his studies, he served as Assistant Director at the Bishop McCauley Formation House in Nairobi. Returning to Ghana in 2010, he was assigned as the Director of the Candidate (or Postulant) Program in Ghana. In 2011, Br. Nicholas was also appointed Assistant Superior of the District of West Africa. In 2015, he also assumed responsibility for the formation of temporarily professed men in Ghana. Br. Nicholas was an elected delegate to the 2016 General Chapter and served on the Vocations and Formation Committee. Having been appointed a part-time General Assistant by Fr. Epping, he will continue his work in Ghana. Br. Nicholas is a member of the District of West Africa (Brafoyaw, Ghana).
Fr. Jerome Joseph Jose, C.S.C.
Sixth General Assistant
Father Jerome Joseph Jose was born on May 15, 1975, at Trituapuram in the Kanyakumari District of Tamil Nadu, India. In 1990, at the age of 16, he met Holy Cross through Fr. David Adaikalam, C.S.C., who inspired him to join the Congregation after visiting Saint Joseph’s Higher Secondary School, Trituapuram. He entered Holy Cross the same year, and four years later made his Novitiate, professing First Vows on May 28, 1995. He then went to Mangalore to complete a Bachelor’s of Arts, before going to the Congregation’s House of Formation in Pune to study philosophy. After completing a pastoral year in Jongsha in Megalaya, Fr. Jerome was asked by his provincial, Fr. Thampi Kayala, C.S.C., to go to France to do his theological studies at the Institut Catholique de Paris. While studying in France, he professed his Final Vows on August 31, 2003, in Le Mans. He was ordained a priest three years later on August 9, 2006, in his hometown at Saint Antony’s Parish, Palavilai, in Tamil Nadu, India. After his Ordination, Fr. Jerome returned to France for a Master’s in Liturgy at the Institut Catholique. During his three years of graduate studies, he also assumed pastoral care for three parishes: St. Calais Parish in the Diocese of Le Mans and Notre Dame de Bercy and St. Louis d’Antin in the Archdiocese of Paris. Since 2010, continuing his missionary work, Fr. Jerome has been serving at St. Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, working with both French- and English-speaking pilgrims. Having been appointed a part-time General Assistant by Fr. Epping, he will continue his work at the Oratory while serving on the General Council. Fr. Jerome is a member of the Vicariate of Tamil Nadu (Trichy, India).