On Tuesday, November 11, the Congregation of Holy Cross blessed and dedicated its newly renovated Generalate on Via Framura in Rome. Leading the blessing was Fr. Richard V. Warner, C.S.C., the Superior General of the Congregation.
Fr. Warner described the blessing and the evening of events surrounding it as a "wonderful celebration." It culminated what has been a multiyear process to renovate the property that serves as the Congregation's international headquarters.
Although the General Administration had moved back to Via Framura in August, the formal dedication and blessing of the property had been saved for this date because the Council of the Congregation was in Rome for its annual meeting. The Council of the Congregation is a consultative and collaborative leadership group that consists of the Superior General, his Council, and the Superiors of the Congregation's Provinces, Vicariates, and Districts. Joining the council as invited guests to the dedicaiton and blessing were the architect and the contractor who oversaw the renovation, as well as other friends of Holy Cross in Rome.
The evening's celeberations began with a talk on Blessed Basile Moreau by Fr. David Guffey, C.S.C., the National Director of Family Theater Productions. An expert on the Congregation's founder, Fr. Guffey spoke about how the Universal Church, and thus Rome, were a critical part of Moreau's vision for his religious family. Fr. Guffey went on to talk about how the newly renovated Generalate will help further realize Moreau's vision of an international religious congregation in service of the local Church throughout the world.
Following Fr. Guffey's talk, Br. Thomas A Dziekan, C.S.C., the Vicar General and First General Assistant of the Congregation, led Vespers. Then assisted by Fr. Peter Rocca, C.S.C., Fr. Warner led the formal blessing and dedication of the Generalate, which began on the fifth floor and moved through the building.
After the prayer, the guests gathered in the community room on the fourth floor, which had been expanded as part of the renovation. Many of the guests also went outside to the veranda as it was a beautiful fall evening in Rome. Everyone then gathered for a formal dinner in the new dining room, which is located on the ground floor.
"The blessing ceremony was very simple and meaningful in the full presence of the entire top leadership of the Congregation," said Fr. Gaspar Selvaraj, C.S.C., the General Steward of the Congregation. "The newly renovated generalate is a gift to the Congregation having a beautiful chapel, conference hall, and community room, besides the many living rooms and offices. We have a religious house now in the eternal city to use for the Congregational gatherings and commission meetings."
While the outside of Via Framura 85 looks the same, it is a completely new building inside today. The building was being built as a standard apartment building when the Congregation, under then-Superior General Fr. Germaine-Marie Lalande, C.S.C., purchased it. At the time, only several modest changes were made to the building to accommodate a central kitchen, dining room, chapel, and community room, yet it essentially remained an apartment building.
In the renovation, the previous garage was turned into the kitchen and a spacious dining room that can accommodate 30 people or more. The offices for the General Administration have been consolidated on the ground and first floors, making the collaborative work of the administration in overseeing the Congregation easier.
Resident rooms are on the first, second and third floors, while guest rooms are on the third and fourth floors. The expanded community room is also on the fourth floor. The fifth floor, which was formerly the attic, has been converted into rooms for students, an improved conference room, council room, and archives.
One of the real gems of the renovated Generalate is the new chapel, which was constructed on the ground floor. Prior to the renovation, the chapel had simply been a dining room apartment that had been converted into use as a chapel. The new chapel is named Chappelle Notre Dame de Sainte-Croix after the original chapel of the Congregation’s first school in LeMans, France, which is now the Conventual Church of the Congregation.
The chapel is adorned with beautiful stained glass windows designed and executed by Paolo Corpetti, a local stained glass artist, that depict the patrons of the Congregation as well as Blessed Moreau and St. André Bessette.
According to Fr. Warner, the renovated Generalate is "simple, beautiful, and ideal for our purposes. It will help us work internationally as a Congregation to make God known, loved, and served."