Rev. Robert T. Hesse, C.S.C. (December 15, 1926-February 3, 2007)
Father Hesse was born in Grand Rapids, MI and went to St. Thomas Parish Grade School and Catholic Central High School. He maintained a close relationship with his many Grand Rapids classmates throughout his life in Uganda. After obtaining an engineering degree from the University of Michigan, he entered Holy Cross in 1951. Ordained in 1958 he had his trunk packed to ship off to Bangladesh, but because of a last-minute reassignment, he was shifted to Uganda. He never looked back and spent his entire priestly life in that country dying in Kampala. His first assignment in Uganda was at Hoima Parish in the Bunyoro region where he was the curate in charge of schools. In 1961 he became secretary to Servant of God Bishop Vincent McCauley, C.S.C. in Fort Portal. In 1963 he was appointed pastor of Bukwali Parish, Kitagwenda, where he served for the next twenty-three years. He was widely known for his creative work with catechists and lay leadership, and also for his emphasis on education. In 1990 Fr. Bob generously responded to the community’s request that he move to Jinja as the founding pastor of Holy Cross Parish Bugembe. When he asked to retire as pastor, he continued to serve the people as an assistant to three succeeding Holy Cross pastors. Convinced of the importance of education for the development of Uganda’s people, he demonstrated a passion for the development of the facilities and quality of Bugembe’s schools.
Since the Cross is the medicine that heals our wounds and offers us a new opportunity for life, it makes sense that Jesus would say, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Mt 16:24). The Lord invites us to divest ourselves of false cures, neediness, and fear-based attachments that we mistakenly think will bring us health and healing. He wants us to “deny ourselves,” that is, to reject ego-driven behavior, so that our wound can be made available to the divine physician. And, when the Cross is in fact locked in place as the singular source of healing and protection in our lives, our hearts are freed to feel, our minds freed to wonder and our feet freed to walk, walk, walk, walk, walk in the open spaces of the kingdom (cf. Ps 119:45). Other people are not our cross, jobs are not our cross, politics is not our cross. These are simply circumstances that challenge us to perceive our wounds more clearly and to welcome the one, true Cross – blazing, glorious and powerful – into those places that we have masked and hidden from the light of day. Let us, therefore, take up this Cross and follow him. Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Brother Vincent Anthony Gross, C.S.C. (1938 -2020)
Vincent Gross was born in 1938 and entered Holy Cross in 1957 professing final vows in 1962. From 1960-63 he was on the maintenance staff at Archbishop Hoban High School, Akron, Ohio, then working at St. Patrick’s High School in Monrovia, Liberia from 1963-1965. Returning to the States in 1965, he served for three years as director of maintenance at Holy Cross High School, River Grove, Illinois. In 1968 he was assigned to the staff at St. John’s School, Sekondi, Ghana. Brother Vincent returned to the States in 1989 for a one-year medical leave, returning to Ghana in 1990 to spend the remaining 30 years serving as a maintenance director at Holy Cross District Center and as Director of the Institute for Continuing Formation from 1999-2013. When Vincent celebrated his 40th jubilee of religious profession, he commented that “Once I joined the Brothers, I never felt a real desire to turn back. It is a very satisfying life because I am in a situation where I am helping others.” From his earliest days in Holy Cross, his superiors found him to be an industrious, committed and earnest brother. Not being drawn to the academic life, Vincent demonstrated a natural affinity for using his intellect and his hands for the maintenance and care of all the places where he was assigned. He could be depended upon to carry out all assigned tasks with exactness. While at Holy Cross High School in the late sixties, he was known as “Brother Fix-It”. Upon going to Ghana, he knew that the maintenance equipment there would be primitive by US standards, and his goal was to set up a modern maintenance department at St. John’s School in Sekondi. With the assistance of the Holy Cross High School Mission Club a major manufacturing company gave Vincent $1,000 worth of shop equipment. For most of his remaining years in Ghana he begged and cajoled many Province schools and acquaintances for all manner of industrial and maintenance equipment. He recruited many brothers to bring him all manner of tools and machine parts to assist him in his work. In a homily given in Ghana by Brother Joe Tsiquaye at Vincent’s 40th jubilee celebration, he said, “The talents of Uncle Vince (Ghanaian term of respect) know no bounds. He was a spare school bus driver and an able mechanic. Uncle Vince can play too. He’s a skin diver, fisherman, card player, and keen competitor in chess. [He] came to Ghana in the era of the Holy Cross Giants. The students believed all Holy Cross Religious are geniuses and Uncle Vince was no exception. From his workshop in the basement of the old dining hall at St. John’s there was nothing Uncle Vince could not fix. It can truly be said of Uncle Vince that he was the master of all trades.” St. Paul writes to the Romans: “For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned” (12:3). Brother Vincent Gross was the ever-faithful man of sober judgment for all of his 60 years in Holy Cross.
We all have wounds in life – those damaged parts of our souls that have been battered through various experiences along the way. How easy it can be to allow these wounds to fester, as we sit angrily in denial. Or, how natural it may seem to travel the path of self-medication, that is, to grasp at anything to take away our pain. Our father, however, loves us dearly, and invites us to the deep place of security, the divine operating table, where those who are weary and worn will always find rest (Mt 11:28). It is upon this bed that he consummates his love for us by applying life-giving medicine to our wounds (cf. Lk 10:25-37). The Cross, indeed, fits perfectly and universally in each and every one of our vulnerable places. The Cross prevents the enemy from entering and spreading infection. Out of the Cross flows soothing waters and sacrificial blood that nourishes and heals (Jn 19:34). Indeed, by his wounds are we healed (Is 53:5). Let us, therefore, not be ashamed to be wounded people! Let us instead welcome the healing touch of that one who constantly seeks to lay down his life for his beloved (Jn 15:13). Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Check out the latest newsletter for Holy Cross Educators as they begin the new school year….Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
She called herself a pioneer. Sister Lucy Lalsangzuali was the first young woman from India to enter the international Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Cross. Sister lived fully her 21 years in Holy Cross, her formative years beginning and ending in Shillong as a daughter of the Church and spiritual mother to many. She died during the week of the feast of Pentecost in Shillong, Meghalaya, India, on June 4, 2020. Lucy’s father and mother were simple farmers in Lungtan, a small, remote, multi-ethnic village in Northeast India in the highlands of the Champhai district of Mizoram. John Rualpela and Carmeli Rokhumi Varte were devout Catholics and active parishioners in an enclave with a long history of Christian missionary activity and high literacy. Lucy, born in Lungtan on August 13, 1974, was the fifth child of four daughters and four sons. Her older brothers and sisters attended school, and her parents, despite some hardship, arranged to educate Lucy at the Holy Cross Brothers’ School in Champhai, where she also boarded and worked from 1988 to 1993. Eventually her parents settled in Khawzawl, where the Holy Cross priests had opened a parish. Lucy completed her higher secondary education in 1996 and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at Khawzawl Government College in 1999. For six years she had considered a religious vocation as she accompanied various clergy on their pastoral visits. However, she felt an obligation to her family first and helped support them while teaching. It was Father Simon Fernandez, CSC, and Father Harry D’Silva, CSC, who encouraged Lucy to enter the Sisters of the Holy Cross. With the encouragement of her parents, Lucy Lalsangzuali began her formation in Holy Cross in Shillong on May 24, 1999, as an aspirant, then as a postulant. On December 7, 2000, she began her novitiate in Savar, Dhaka, Bangladesh. She was the only Indian among her peers in Bangladesh. Ironically, her Indian passport was often questioned by her countrymen whenever she crossed the border back into India, since the Mizo people also have tribal and ethnic origins in western Burma and eastern Bangladesh. On November 29, 2002, Sister Lucy, taking first vows said, “I enjoyed the hospitality, equality, friendliness, freedom and openness of Holy Cross—traits very similar to and connected with the culture from which I had come.” She felt called to serve all people “in the plains and hills, over the mountains and across the ocean.” Sister Lucy subsequently completed her professional government teaching degree (equivalent to a Bachelor of Education degree) at the College of Teacher Education in Shillong in 2010 and earned a Master of Arts in sociology at Madurai Kamaraj University, Shillong, in 2011. During those years of study, she was simultaneously engaged in ministry. She was an enthusiastic teacher of youth and a social worker with women in her years of ministry from 2002 to 2017, teaching in Agartala, West Tripura, India, twice at Saint Andre High School and at Our Lady of Holy Cross School. When Sister Lucy lived in community in Bodhjungnagar, she found time to sing and plan activities for her neighbors, the orphans of Holy Cross Boys Town. She found great joy playing her guitar to help them settle down and focus. Sister Lucy’s last two missions were in Meghalaya, India, at St. John Bosco Secondary School in Nongstoin and St. Paul Higher Secondary School in Jatah village, East Khasi Hills District. From 2012 to 2014, Sister Lucy crossed several borders by participating in the Sisters of the Holy Cross Leadership Development Program, beginning in Ghana, West Africa. The hospitality and experience of the Ghanaian sisters made her realize that she was not the only pioneer in Holy Cross. Her administrative internship continued in Salt Lake City, Utah, at Holy Cross Ministries and at Saint Vincent de Paul, Our Lady of Lourdes and J.E. Cosgriff Memorial schools. Sister Lucy’s leadership was affirmed when she was elected a delegate to the sisters’ General Chapter in May 2019. Later elected a counselor for the Area of Asia, she assumed office in November. A short time later, she took seriously ill and never fully recovered. When Sister Lucy made her perpetual profession of vows in Shillong on October 31, 2008, she committed her heart forever “to Jesus who died for me.” Responding to God’s love song, she likened herself to “a guitar in the hands of my Music Master.” A chorus of Alleluias is now being sung in the Mizo language in the heavens above, among those of every tribe and nation.—Written by Sister Catherine Osimo, CSC with editing assistance by Edwin Donnelly
The pandemic has certainly been a crisis – confusing and unexpected circumstances which interrupt our typical way of living. There are employment and financial stresses, emotional burnout, family drama as well as the constant anxiety of contracting the virus. In times like this, it is important to remember that the word crisis literally means “to sift,” that is, to sort through all of the stuff in the whirlwind and to take ownership of what matters to us. Perhaps we do not need that cable package after all; perhaps we realize that social media does us more harm than good; perhaps we actually start to say “I love you” to the people whom we love. Whatever we choose to do during this time, whatever we discover to be our true priorities in life, we should never forget that we walk with the Lord. The Lord is the crucified one who knows what uncertainty is like. The Lord was forced to make decisions in the very epicenter of his most vulnerable time. Yet, he did so with trust, deep reverence and singularity of heart and mind – “Mother, here is your son,” “I thirst,” “Into your hands, I commend my spirit.” Let us, therefore, with the Lord, sift through it all and make decisions that lead to life, not despite, but precisely because of the storm. Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
The Voice of Moreau will return in just a few short days! We invite you to enter into the rich spiritual tradition that has been a powerful lever for change in our society and a source of transformation for women and men around the world. And don’t forget to check out Daily Gospel Video Reflections and Monthly Newsletter for Holy Cross Educators. We look forward to journeying with you!