In the month of March, the International Shrine of Blessed Basile Moreau, located at Notre-Dame de Sainte Croix Church in Le Mans, France, hosted two concerts as part of its continued celebrations to mark the year of the 150th Anniversary of the entry of the Congregation of Holy Cross’s founder into eternal life.
The first concert was on March 10 and featured the Little Singers of Paris, which are probably the most famous boys' choir in France. Drawing over 400 people, the choir performed great classics of sacred music and French songs in homage to the Cathedral Notre-Dame de Paris.
Just three days later, on March 13, the Shrine hosted another choir. This time it was the Liturgical Choir from the University of Notre Dame in Indiana in the United States. Their visit to Notre-Dame de Sainte Croix Church was part of a wider pilgrimage to France over their spring break.
Accompanied by their director, Dr. Andrew McShane, his assistant, Dr. Jonathan Hehn, and Fr. Brian Ching, C.S.C., Rector of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at the University, the Choir started in Le Mans with a concert and Mass at the Cathedral of St. Julien. Then came the Mass and concert at the International Shrine of Blessed Basil Moreau.
The following morning, the Liturgical Choir returned to the shrine for a guided tour, followed by Mass at the tomb of Basile Moreau presided by Fr. Ching, before going to the Sainte-Croix High School to have lunch with the students and give a concert in the school’s chapel. In the afternoon, Sr. Jacqueline Bréchotte, MSC, gave the Choir a guided tour of La Solitude, before the group went down the hill to visit the Holy Cross cemetery and the old city of Le Mans.
While in Le Mans, the choir also visited and sang at Ahuillé, the birthplace and parish of Fr. Edward Sorin, C.S.C., founder of the University of Notre Dame and the third Superior General of the Congregation, and Lange-en-Belin, the birthplace and parish of Blessed Basile Moreau.
The choir then wrapped up its time in France with a few days in Paris, including a concert at the Church of the Madeleine.
After the visits of the two choirs, the International Shrine of Blessed Basile Moreau prepared for the celebration of St. Joseph's feast day. As part of the celebrations for the anniversary year, this year’s Mass was held in the Convent Chapel of the Sisters of Providence at Ruillé-sur-Loir. Like the Brothers of St. Joseph, who went on to become the Brothers of Holy Cross, the Sisters of Providence were founded by Fr. Jaqués Dujarie.
Held on the feast’s traditional day of March 19, the Mass was presided by Fr. Joseph Gonsalvez, C.S.C., Assistant Rector, while Fr. Paul-Elie Cadet, C.S.C., Rector, gave the homily, focusing on the relationship between the Sisters of Providence and the Congregation of Holy Cross.
About 120 people attended the Mass, including the Sisters of Providence Superior General, Sr. Josette Bijloos, S.P. Many other Sisters of Providence sisters were also in attendance. A social was held after the afternoon Mass for all who came to the celebration.
As the church constructed by Blessed Basile Moreau to be the visible sacrament of Holy Cross’s union throughout the world, Notre-Dame de Sainte Croix is one of the principal centers for the Congregation’s celebrations marking the 150th Anniversary of the entry of its founder into eternal life. The celebrations began on January 20, 2023, and will continue through June 7, 2024, the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.