As part of its celebrations of the 150th Anniversary of Blessed Basile Moreau’s entry into eternal life, members of the Congregation of the Holy Cross throughout the world made a devotional renewal of their religious vows on August 15. It was on that date in 1840 that Father Moreau made his Perpetual Profession of Religious Vows to Bishop Jean-Baptiste Bouvier in Le Mans, France.
Blessed Moreau’s profession of religious vows was the fulfillment of a call that he had been experiencing for some time to give greater stability, apostolic zeal, and fraternal communion to his growing “Association of Holy Cross” through the religious vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.
The invitation to make a devotional renewal of religious vows to mark this important anniversary in the life of Blessed Basile Moreau and the history of the Holy Cross Family came from the Congregation’s Commission for Consecrated Life and Heritage and was approved by the General Council.
In announcing the renewal of vows, the Commission wrote: “Let us pray for each other and our Congregation, that through the intercession of our Blessed Mother and our holy Founder, this August 15 may be a day of grace in the ongoing renewal of our religious life and apostolic service.”
Local communities throughout the Congregation worldwide joined in the celebration, using an adapted version of the Rite for the Devotional Renewal of Vows contained in the Ritual Prayer for Use in the Congregation of Holy Cross. There were options for celebrating the rite during either a Eucharistic celebration or the Liturgy of the Hours.
Some jurisdictions anticipated the renewal of vows. For example, in the new Province of West Africa, all the members celebrated the devotional renewal of vows on August 5 as a way of closing their annual retreat, which had begun on August 1. They composed a song for the occasion that included the lyrics: “My brothers, let us be brothers / as God wants us to be / so let us become real brothers / for we are one in Christ.”
Many communities chose to hold special liturgical celebrations to renew their vows together as brothers, such as in Chile and Peru where the Holy Cross religious all gathered to renew their vows together. Other communities celebrated the rite during their regular daily liturgy.
There were communities from initial formation, such as Moreau Seminary in the United States gathered for its week of orientation in LaPorte, Indiana, to retirement and health care communities, such as St. Joseph Center in Valatie, New York, that joined in the devotional renewal.
Leadership communities also participated from the Provincialate of the St. Joseph Province in Dhaka City, Bangladesh, to the Bishop McCauley House in Kampala, Uganda, to the Holy Cross Generalate in Rome.
In some places, like Nuestra Señora Santísima de la Luz Parish in Guadalupe, Nuevo León, in Mexico, the Priests, Brothers, and Sisters of the Holy Cross Family came together to renew their vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.
"As we renewed our vows, we felt a strong connection to our founder's vision and mission," stated the report from the Province of West Africa. "It wasn't just about remembering the past; it was about carrying forward the values that define us as a community, as a family. His teachings on education, love, and unity resonate with us and help us make a positive difference in the lives of others.
"In the warmth of this celebration, we become custodians of our past and stewards of our future," the report continued. "As we move forward, united by our common purpose, we face the future with determination and grace. This commemoration strengthens our commitment to carry forward our founder's legacy, ensuring that his wisdom continues to touch the lives of generations to come."
As another part of the day’s celebrations, Fr. John DeRiso, C.S.C., who was the first Rector of the International Shrine of Blessed Basile Moreau in Le Mans, France, and now serves as the Director of the Office of Vocations for the United States Province of Priests and Brothers, offered a reflection on the meaning of the religious vows for Blessed Basile Moreau.
Over 200 Holy Cross religious from around the world, some gathered in their local communities, connected to watch Fr. DeRiso’s presentation live, which started with the faith formation that Blessed Basile Moreau received in his own family and continued through to his Profession of Vows in 1840.
Fr. DeRiso answered questions for about 30 minutes, covering topics as wide as the effect of his Scriptural studies on his understanding of the vows to how his Marian piety affected his living of the vows to how he understood their relationship with mission.
The Congregation’s celebration of the 150th Anniversary of Blessed Basile Moreau’s entry into eternal life, which was decreed by the 2022 General Chapter, continues to the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on June 7, 2024.