The Congregation of Holy Cross is a “religious congregation composed of two distinct societies of religious, one of religious priests and one of religious brothers, bound together in one indivisible brotherhood” (Constitutions, 1:6).
Some of us are called by God to the vocation of priesthood. These men, in addition to their consecration as religious, are ordained as priests to preach the Word and minister the Sacraments. Others of us are called by God to the vocation of brotherhood. These men through their consecration as religious dedicate themselves to a variety of ministries in service to the Church.
Yet, whether we minister as a priest or as a brother, all of us in Holy Cross conform ourselves to Christ forever through the profession of the religious vows of poverty, celibacy, and obedience according to our Constitutions. As priests and brothers in Holy Cross, we work, pray, and live united by our “common founder, tradition, rule, government, way of life, and mission” (1:6).
When Blessed Basile Moreau founded Holy Cross, he envisioned such a familial bond uniting the members of the Congregation as one. In Circular Letter 14 on September 1, 1841, he held up for Holy Cross the model of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.
In keeping with this model, earlier that same year, Moreau had established a group of religious sisters to share in the common life and work of brothers and priests of Holy Cross.
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When the Holy See approved the Congregation of Holy Cross as a congregation of priests and brothers on May 13, 1857, it required that the sisters be split off as their own congregation with their own separate governance structure.
Today there are three groups of sisters – the Marianites of Holy Cross, the Sisters of Holy Cross, and the Sisters of the Holy Cross – who trace their spiritual heritage and tradition back to Moreau. These sisters, along with the priests and brothers of the Congregation of Holy Cross, form the religious family of Holy Cross.
For Moreau, this union of our religious was not simply an aid to our mission; it was an essential part of that mission in advancing God's kingdom here on earth. To this day, our common religious life and the union it fosters among us as religious priests and religious brothers remain a constitutive part of our ministries.
It is essential to our mission that we strive to abide so attentively together that people will observe: “See how they love one another.” We will then be a sign in an alienated world: men who have, for love of their Lord, become closest neighbors, trustworthy friends, brothers. Constitutions, 4:42
Wherever we go as educators in the faith, we go precisely as a community. Through living in midst of those we serve, sharing our community life with them and extending our family to them, we hope to assist them in “their efforts to form communities of the coming kingdom” (Constitutions 2:12).