Br. Jesus Alonso, C.S.C.
Enjoying life in community
I have been a religious brother in Holy Cross for over 10 years now. I am one of seven children of Dora and Sergio Alonso. Both of my parents (as well as two of my older siblings) were born and raised in northeast Mexico.
For numerous reasons, the primary of which was the potential to attain a better future for their children, my parents applied and were granted legal residency in the United States. It was difficult for my parents to find full-time employment in south Texas area; therefore they decided to begin migrating north to work on the farms and fields in the state of Washington.
Growing up as a migrant was a very difficult experience due to our itinerate life. Generally, our family would spend the winter season at our home in Brownsville, Texas, and part of the spring, the entire summer, and some of the fall season in the state of Washington. Our family was fortunate since we moved and worked with the same people year after year throughout the harvesting season; therefore, I was able to maintain some friends growing up.
The migrant lifestyle, however, is very unstable and the constant moving makes keeping up with school very difficult. Fortunately, my parents strongly valued education and constantly encouraged each one of us to perform well in school. My personal determination to succeed, along with their support and careful guidance, ultimately resulted in me finishing high school and an opportunity to attend St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas, through the College Assistance Migrant Program.
Throughout high school and for most of my college life, I was never an avid churchgoer or a pious individual. My inclination has always been towards service especially since the service of others to me was integral in my persevering as a migrant student. It was through service that I began interacting with the Brothers of Holy Cross, the founding religious society of St. Edward’s University.
At first, their religious title and way of life was an anomaly to me simply because I had little understanding of their vowed and communal life. I got to know the brothers more closely when they provided housing for me during a six-week period at the beginning of my third year. Sharing community with the brothers allowed me to experience their life and prayer, plus I learned about the apostolic and congregational mission of Holy Cross. I thoroughly enjoyed sharing meals with them and discussing my future professional and academic plans. Their form of community life was enriching and life-giving, an experience that I thoroughly missed when my six-week stay ended.
These six-weeks inspired my vocation to become a brother of Holy Cross, and if it were not for the brothers’ hospitality, learning about and experiencing religious life would have been most unlikely. Now, as a religious brother, I continually and intentionally invite others to learn and experience my community life.
Although community life was my initial attraction to religious life, a religious vocation is also a very personal calling. My personal vocation has been deepened and solidified through the formation process that I have undergone as a religious of the Congregation. Spending significant time undergoing self-reflection and self-assessment, learning new forms of prayer, discovering the rich history of our order, and encountering other men that share a similar attraction to serve the Church have all been invaluable experiences. Personal prayer and community life are integral to my vocation as a brother.
As a brother, I have meet and befriended men from many different parts of the world who share the same dedication to the Church and the Congregation. I have had the great privilege to work as a high school teacher and earn my doctoral degree in Microbiology. Now, I serve as a faculty member at Holy Cross College in Notre Dame, Indiana, and interact with young men and women discovering their own faith and identifying their life’s vocation. It is a great joy to share in their excitement and energy for life. I pray that my own commitment to religious life will inspire them to discover that a similar enjoyment can be found as a religious in the Catholic Church.
Br. Jesus Alonso, C.S.C., is a member of the Moreau Province (Austin, Texas).