Brother Andrew Steffes, C.S.C. (1902-1992)
Brother Andrew was born in Springfield, IL and attended grammar schools there. He joined the Brothers at the age of 14 making his first profession in 1919. He studied at Notre Dame for four years, earning teaching certificates in science and mathematics. His first assignment was to teach at Central Catholic High in Fort Wayne, Indiana. In 1926, he was assigned to teach and work in Bengal (now Bangladesh) where he served for 46 years. In the article, “What Old Tajma Rabadab thought of Americans” printed in the mission periodical The Bengalese, in 1945, one reads about Brother Andrew that “Old Tajma Rabadab, the long-bearded Indian wise man, thinks Brother Andrew is the smartest, kindest and all-around best man he has ever met.” The old wise man formed his opinion of Americans because of an interaction Brother Andrew had with Bengali boys. The old man overheard Brother Andrew encouraging them to honor their parents and to obey all of the laws of “the Great God in whom everyone believes.” He served as headmaster and science teacher at two high schools. In 1940 he was made the superintendent of construction for the archdiocese of Dacca, supervising the building of new schools, chapels and infirmaries. In 1954, he helped establish the St. Joseph School of Industrial Trades in Dacca, a vocational school for young men to learn to be qualified technicians. He wrote texts for use in the school both in English and Bengali which were published by the government for all vocational schools. He loved sports and coached volleyball and softball teams. He had the capacity for hard work and lived a simple lifestyle. Brother Andrew was a source of hope and taught the dignity of labor by example. He returned to the U.S. in 1972 to serve on the staff of the Brothers’ Center at Notre Dame where he continued to work in variety of duties with other brothers in maintenance. Idle hands he never had. (Adapted from the Legacy Project created by Brother Larry Stewart, C.S.C.)
Sister M. Joseph (Catherine Margaret), CSC, (1924-2019)
By the time the Saint Mary’s community had gathered for the festive Easter morning liturgy at the motherhouse, Sister Joseph had already seen the Paschal Light of the risen Christ when she died on Easter at Saint Mary’s Convent, hours before the break of day. Catherine Margaret Sullivan was born in Chicago, Illinois. Her Catholic parents were both natives of County Kerry, Ireland. Her father, Timothy Sullivan, fought in World War I. After the war, he worked for Bowman Dairy and her mother was a homemaker. Mrs. Sullivan was in her late thirties when she died. Sister Joseph wrote: “These were really sad days for us.” Her father was so shaken by his wife’s death, that he sought help from relatives to care for his children. Eventually, it was necessary to split up the children, though they stayed in Chicago. Sister Joseph learned from her extended family how to be a generous, caring, loving and sharing person. She first met the Sisters of the Holy Cross at St. Theodore Elementary School in Chicago and wanted to be a nurse. With only an invitation to consider if she had a religious vocation, she applied to St. Mary’s Academy in Notre Dame, Indiana in 1943 for her secondary education, entering the juniorate as preparation for her admission to the convent after her third year. Sister Joseph earned her bachelor’s degree in education from Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, in 1962 after many summers. But since 1945 she had been a successful teacher in Catholic parochial schools in Indiana, Michigan and Illinois. In 1967, Sister Joseph earned her master’s in education and reading from Saint Francis College in Fort Wayne, Indiana and became principal at five schools in the Midwest from 1968-1988. From 1988 to 1999 she served at Most Holy Redeemer School in Evergreen Park, Illinois, as assistant principal, teacher and learning center coordinator. Sister Joseph transitioned to the motherhouse, and in September 2000 she was appointed superior at Lourdes Convent. Since 2010, Sister Joseph’s ministry of prayer sustained her community in Saint Mary’s Convent where she will be remembered for her laughter, warmth and loving heart. When Sister celebrated her golden jubilee in 1995, Archbishop Joseph Cardinal Bernardin of Chicago wrote her with encouragement from the Holy Redeemer parishioners: “Thank you for your commitment and generous response to the gospel of Jesus over these many years…. You have been a blessing to the church and to the family of Sisters of the Holy Cross.” (Adapted form a eulogy Written by Sister Catherine Osimo, CSC)
Today is the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross and the one year anniversary of the Voice of Moreau blog! Thank you to the many Holy Cross educators, sisters, priests, brothers and associates who have participated in this spiritual conversation. Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Voice of Moreau: The Cross is the key to our salvation. The Cross is the true altar of sacrifice. The Cross is a pulpit. The Cross is the Bridegroom’s wedding chamber and bed. The Cross is the way to eternal life. The Cross is the palm at the end of the mind. The Cross is the darkness that makes illumination possible. The Cross is medicine for wounded souls. The Cross is the source of life-giving waters that wash us. The Cross is the Tree of Life that feeds and nourishes us. The Cross is the beginning of the Resurrection. The Cross is the seed of mature faith. The Cross is “the image of the invisible God.” The Cross is a stumbling block and scandal to the world. The Cross is the icon of authentic humanity. The Cross is a spiritual blindfold that makes our steps certain. The Cross is the pattern at the heart of the universe. The Cross is the false self broken open. The Cross is our truest and deepest identity. The Cross is a most faithful friend. The Cross is the Beloved for whom our hearts have always longed. The Cross is vulnerability, trust and love. The Cross is our only hope. Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Sister Mary Bonavita (Kathleen) Cannon, C.S.C. (1907-1997)
Kathleen Cannon was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and entered the Sisters of the Holy Cross in 1925. One of the youngest missionary sisters, not only in age but in years of service, Sister Bonavita made her way to Bengal, now Bangladesh, in 1932 on the S.S. Paris sailing from Los Angeles, California. It is reported that she “brought her cheerful nature and youthful enthusiasm to the Foreign Mission Convent in Washington, D.C. It is further reported in a brief article in a 1932 issue of mission periodical, The Bengalese, that a group “[Held] an informal reception on the 15th street docks and in the spacious lounges of the S.S. Paris, the Bonavita Club, with many a bon voyage and many flowers on her [Sister Bonavita’s] way to India. The Bonavita Club whose members are largely drawn from the parishioners of New York’s wonderful Paulist Church, St. Paul the Apostle, was organized only a month ago when it was learned that Sister Bonavita who had taught in the Paulist School was going to Bengal. Although the youngest of our mission clubs, the Bonavita Club has already displayed the mission activity of a veteran missionary organization.” In a letter, written in February of 1932, Sister Bonavita and Sister Helen Xavier (Manes) write about their time at sea and in Rome, “Yes, we were terrible sailors. Seasickness, ugh! One night a porthole flew open and in rushed the sea. It was at dinner and it was really comical to see the diners fall over the chairs in the hurry to get to the deck. (Pst, we nearly fell over, too!) In Rome the greatest event was our audience with the Holy Father [Pius XI]. Colorful Swiss Guards challenged us at the gates, we passed through mazes of audience rooms, all crowed with officials in most picturesque costumes. When the Holy Father, such a kindly, gentle figure, came in, we knelt and kissed his ring. He said a few words of encouragement, blessed us and our friends at home, and it was over.” While in Bengal Sister Bonavita served at St. Anthony School in Nagari. Returning to the States in 1935, she worked in various schools and hospitals for the next 60 years. Sister Bonavita died at St. Catherine’s Convent, Ventura, California, in 1997 and is buried in Santa Clara Cemetery, Oxnard, California. Ave Crux Spes Unica!
Voice of Moreau: While the Cross may seem like an extrinsic reality that is laid upon our shoulders, it is actually intrinsic to the human person. Indeed, because we are made in the image of God (Gen 1:28), we cannot help but to contain the eternal cruci-form in our souls. When we enter into one of life’s many trials or encounter some hardship, yet choose to walk through, the experience assists in clearing away that “stuff” that has come to cover up the Cross within. New age spiritual philosophies might call this awareness or awakening, but this is a bedrock truth of the Christian life, which is why there is so much emphasis on finding in the Gospels: the Lost Coin, the Lost Sheep, the Prodigal Son, the Finding of the Christ Child, the Treasure in the Field, the Pearl of Great Value, and so on. By walking through the gauntlet, all of the clothes that society has hung on the interior Cross and all of the baggage we have accumulated along the way slowly decrease so that the Lord within may increase (Jn 3:30). Let us therefore look forward to the day when, having discovered that precious treasure within, we will exclaim “Voilà!” and “Eureka!” with all of the saints who have walked this path before us. Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Brother Walter (John) Remlinger, C.S.C. (1889-1939)
“Shortly after his high school days in Norwalk, Ohio, John Remlinger came to Notre Dame and entered the novitiate. He graduated from the University in 1915 and spent six years teaching in the States. In each of the three schools he left and enviable reputation as a scholar and a religious. On September 30, 1921, in company with Brother Louis Gazagne, he sailed from New York for India. Scarcely was he in the mission field when he was appointed Headmaster of Holy Cross High School in Bandura. In 1929, he was transferred to a similar position at St. Gregory High School in Dacca. At both schools he was preeminent as teacher, administrator, apostle, respected and beloved by faculty and students. Like St. Paul, he made himself all things to all men. In 1938 he was elected delegate from Bengal to the General Chapter of the Congregation of Holy Cross at Notre Dame. His zeal, prudence and piety were evident during the sessions. But he was to see India no more. For years he had secretly suffered from a malignant cancer. He was confined to the Community Infirmary where he lingered for more than half a year on bed of pain, an example of radiant joy and sanctity. Those who visited him in his illness felt closer to heaven. He died on the feast of the Assumption. Like the Little Flower he had gone to labor in the Eternal Mission, where we fondly hope he is still mindful of Bengal” (Bulletin of the Educational Conference of the Brothers of Holy Cross, June, 1940). In September of 1939, the following memorial was printed in missionary periodical, The Bengalese: “We are sorry of chronicle for you the death of one of our most beloved missionaries. With unstinted efforts, Brother Walter devoted his entire and extraordinary talents to the development of Holy Cross’s educational program in Bengal. That he was successful, one need only ask the older missioners who worked with him in Bengal. Brother Walter fulfilled the trust his brethren placed in him. His [last] suffering, we feel sure, will not be in vain as we pray that through his intercession with Our Divine Lord graces will be showered upon Holy Cross in Bengal. May his dear soul rest in Peace.”
Voice of Moreau: St. Paul famously exclaims in Galatians, “It is no longer I who live, but Jesus Christ who lives in me” (2:20). This very powerful way of thinking about the Christian life has undoubtedly inspired countless souls to strive ever more ardently for transformation and self-realization. Nevertheless, it is the preceding line which contains the key to reaching this new life: “I have been crucified with Christ” (Gal 2:19). We should not be surprised that the Greek word that Paul uses for “I” is literally ego. That object, idea, vision, dream or image that we hold deeply in our psyches must be brought to an end (Jn 19:29), or crucified with Christ. Though Jesus possessed the eternal “form of God,” he nevertheless “emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness” and subjected himself to “death on the cross” (Phil 2:6-8). We who are sinners, who blindly roam this earth, suffering from ego-delusion, must pay attention to this profound and humbling lesson. Only when the false self dies, does the risen Christ, in all of his resurrected glory, appear. Let us therefore roll up our sleeves and clean out our spiritual houses. The Beloved eagerly awaits a home in which to dwell! Ave Crux, Spes Unica!