Blessed Basile Moreau, the founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross, was born on February 11, 1799, in France. As a young man, he came across the devastation of French Revolution, and he responded to the needs of the time and the local context that needed the ‘work of Resurrection.’
Fr. Moreau formed the first Association of Holy Cross in 1837 to serve the educational and pastoral needs of the post-revolution France in Le Mans like ‘a salt of the earth’ and ‘a drop in the ocean.’ Soon after its founding, he sent members of the community to the continents of Africa, North America, and Asia and to serve the church as educators in the faith. He called upon them to participate in the restoration of the local order in the societies that were tarnished by natural calamities, as well as economic, political and cultural oppressions.
Fr. Moreau served as Superior General of the Congregation of Holy Cross from 1837 to 1866, founding, shaping, teaching, and leading an international congregation of educators, pastors, and zealous missionaries.
Though he underwent the experience of Cross, the rejection from his own congregational members, and resigning as Superior General—many events of a Good Friday—Fr. Moreau could see resurrection, the hope of Easter Sunday. His confidence in Divine Providence made him to accept the suffering with serenity, peace, and calm. He went for the heavenly reward on January 20, 1873, whose feast the Congregation in the whole world now celebrates.
In reflecting on being conformed to Christ, I remember a story: Once, during a birthday celebration of the principal of a school, a group of young students tried their best to put on a show of 10 minutes to imitate the different tones, actions, and behaviors of the principal. It was a good show by the students. In his remarks responding to the students, the principal, while appreciating the boldness and creativity of the students, commented: “You could not imitate me as original as I am, because I am a unique master piece of God. Yours is only a Xeroxed copy, once removed from the original.”
Fr. Moreau insisted his men and women “to be Christ,” not simply Christ-like. In our day-to-day life situations, one may do intellectual work, another manual work, one will teach and another will administer, but all are called to radiate Christ.
In his Meditations, Fr. Moreau writes, “Jesus Christ must be formed in us. In this way, we become other Christ and his life is made manifest in ours.”
Our present Constitutions tell us: “We must have formed in us by God’s enablement the living likeness of Jesus Christ” (6, 58). Conforming ourselves to Christ and trusting in Providence require a vibrant relationship with God, specifically expressed by practicing prayer.
Today as we commemorate the 147th anniversary of death of our founder Blessed Basile Moreau, let his intercession help our congregation and the community members, as well as our many lay collaborators, to rekindle the spirit of mission and of forming oneself and the community in the light of gospel values. At the end of every day, may we able to feel the experience of St. Paul who said, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me’ (Galatians 2:20). That is a life that is built on Divine Providence.
This reflection to celebrate the Feast Day of Blessed Basile Moreau, the founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross, was written by Fr. Binoy John, C.S.C. A member of the Province of North East India, Fr. Binoy is currently serving as a Pastor of St. André Parish, Bodhjungnagar, in Argatala, Tripura.