The charism of the Congregation of Holy Cross is to educate in the faith. This is the particular gift that the Holy Spirit gave the Congregation through our founder, Blessed Basile Moreau, in order to build up the Church and to respond to the needs of the world for the good of all men and women.
Wherever through its superiors the congregation sends us we go as educators in the faith to those whose lot we share, supporting men and women of grace and goodwill everywhere in their efforts to form communities of the coming kingdom. – Constitutions, 2:12
Moreau’s particular inspiration was to see that, in a climate of rising secularization and suspicion of religion after the French Revolution, education held the key to evangelization. It was the key to sharing the good news of Christ not just with the wider world, but also within the Church. This education in the faith required the development of the mind, the cultivation of the heart, the enkindling of a zeal for service, the encouragement of hope in the cross, and the uniting with others as family.
We do not want our students to be ignorant of anything they should know. To this end, we shall shrink from no sacrifice. – Blessed Basile Moreau
An education in the faith, similar to any education, begins with a rigorous and full development of the mind. The Congregation’s schools, from the time of Moreau when Notre-Dame de Sainte-Croix was one of the leading secondary schools in its region, are known for their comprehensive curriculums and academic excellence. Only a rigorous education of the mind gives the background necessary to engage with faith the pressing needs and questions of the day and thus be real gospel leaven in the world.
We shall always place education side by side with instruction; the mind will not be cultivated at the expense of the heart. While we prepare useful citizens for society, we shall likewise do our utmost to prepare citizens for heaven. – Blessed Basile Moreau
Any education in the faith also had to cultivate fully the heart. Having grown up in the wake of the French Revolution, Moreau witnessed firsthand the injustices that people with sharp intellects but under-formed hearts were capable of committing. In the Congregation’s schools, parishes, and missions, the cultivation of the heart has consisted principally in the spiritual and vocational formation necessary for people to live out their baptismal identity and calling. At its core is the frequent celebration of the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist.
Zeal is the great desire to make God known, loved, and served, and thus save souls. Activity flows from this virtue. – Blessed Basile Moreau
This education of mind and heart, Moreau believed, can only set the world on fire if its recipients also have enkindled in them zeal. This zeal is a burning desire, born out of love for God and love for our neighbor, to be sent on behalf of the gospel in service to the Church and the world, especially the poor, the sick, and the suffering. The Congregation’s ministries, including our schools, place a strong emphasis on service learning programs and outreach to the least among us.
We must be men with hope to bring. There is no failure the Lord’s love cannot reverse, no humiliation He cannot exchange for blessing, no anger He cannot dissolve, no routine He cannot transfigure. All is swallowed up in victory. He has nothing but gifts to offer. It remains only for us to find how even the cross can be borne as a gift. – Constitutions, 8:118
This zeal has to find its ultimate hope in the cross, because there is no way to seek to transform the world without coming face-to-face with the suffering of the poor and the afflicted. No education in the faith is ever complete without teaching how “even the cross could be borne as a gift.” Only then, with such uniquely Christian hope, can disciples of Christ “move without awkwardness among others who suffer” and become for them people “with hope to bring.”
Union, then, is a powerful lever with which we could move, direct, and sanctify the whole world. We who are disciples … do not realize all the good we could do for others through union with Jesus Christ. – Blessed Basile Moreau
For Moreau, family was the rich setting in which this education could lead people to completion. Modeling the Congregation on the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, Moreau called upon his religious to extend the Holy Cross family to those with whom and for whom we serve by living and working together with them. We seek to turn our schools, parishes, and missions into families of faith so that united together as one we can become signs of the true communion possible in God.
This charism of education in the faith, which the Holy Spirit entrusted through Moreau to the Congregation, is nothing short of a “work of resurrection.” Through educating the next generations in the faith today, Holy Cross continues to “contribute to preparing the world for better times than ours.”