Were you afraid of the dark as a kid? Waking up in a dark room, walking into the basement, or being outside in the late hours of the night can still make my heart pound and cause my breath to become shallow! The uncertainty and the powerlessness of our senses during these moments are, nevertheless, an excellent analogy for our spiritual lives. Indeed, it is when scientific certainty and clarity of intellect give way to that slow process of trust, that we begin to really and truly walk in intimacy and friendship with the Lord who calls us forth from the shadows of the night (cf. Jn 3:2). Indeed, maybe the darkness really is not that dark after all. Maybe our minds, which have become the seedbeds for all sorts of expectations and illusions and ideas about life and the way things should be have been dark all along and we just don’t recall what the light is like! Let us, therefore, learn to not be afraid of the dark (Jn 6:20). Let us remember that “the light of the world” (Jn 8:12) can only be perceived at the level of the heart (cf. Rom 10:9). And above all else, let us not forget that Jesus rose from the dead “while it was still dark” (Jn 20:1) . Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Sister M. St. Brigid (Hilda) Bromeling, C. S. C. (1916-2020)
The Least Likely to Become a Nun
When Hilda Bromeling applied to the Sisters of the Holy Cross in May 1941, after graduating from Saint Mary’s College in 1940, her motivation was “to serve God and to remove the obstacles which hinder my perfection.” She was accepted into the Congregation and entered a few months later. Among her college classmates, Hilda was viewed as “the least likely to become a nun.” Yet, she spent over 75 years seeking perfection in charity as a consecrated woman religious as Sister Mary St. Brigid. There were obstacles along the way, whether due to her personal history or restless spirit.
She was born in Woodlawn (now Aliquippa), Pennsylvania, September 1, 1916. Hilda was the youngest of eight children born to Czechoslovakian immigrants. When the children’s mother died, their father needed help raising the youngest siblings, one boy and two girls, as the rest were older or close to adulthood. Since no one was able to care for all three children as the father insisted, they were placed in a home for adoption. It is known that Merton and Margaret Blacker Bromeling adopted Hilda, “who was a very sweet child,” giving her every advantage, providing for an excellent education and extensive travel. In adulthood she called them her guardians.
Sister St. Brigid developed a very deep faith. At the end of her novitiate formation at Saint Mary’s, Notre Dame, Indiana, she seriously considered entering a contemplative order instead of the Sisters of the Holy Cross. After counsel by her spiritual director and the Congregation’s superior general, she accepted God’s will and freely pronounced vows. Two other times she felt called again to enter a monastery and twice more, her discernment led her to remain in Holy Cross.
Sister earned a master’s in theology in 1952 from Saint Mary’s School of Theology, Notre Dame, the first of its kind for Catholic women. The first 28 years of her ministry were spent mostly in elementary education in Utah, California, Indiana and Michigan.
In her pursuit of perfection, Sister St. Brigid always wanted to be or do something more. Not only had she felt drawn to the sacrifice and silence of the contemplative life, she simultaneously felt compelled to throw herself into being a missionary in the new Holy Cross foundation in São Paulo, Brazil, where she taught at the Colégio Santa Maria from 1956 to 1961. Later, in 1971, having given two previous summers of service in the leper settlement of Kaulapapa on the island of Molokai, Hawaii, she managed to secure an extraordinary permission from the state’s Department of Health to live for one year on the island, lest she develop the infectious Hansen’s disease herself. Her mission was to write for blind and handless lepers, visit them in their cottages, and read them the Bible and other books. Upon advice of the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis of Syracuse, New York, who trained her for this ministry and with whom she lived, Sister St. Brigid returned to Saint Mary’s in 1972 and gave service to the Congregation in various capacities for many more years. She retired to a fully contemplative life of prayer in 2000 at Saint Mary’s Convent. [Adapted from an obituary written by Sister Catherine Osimo, CSC]
Question: What’s the difference between the mythological figure Atlas, who spent eternity bearing the literal weight of the world on his shoulders, and Jesus, on whose shoulders the heavy wood of the Cross rested? Answer: only one of them was going somewhere! The Cross is indeed a weight but it is not a punishment – as the famous god had to endure. Rather, the Cross is heavy so as to keep us focused, grounded and on track on the way to transformation. And while we can sometimes find ourselves in an Atlas-situation during our journeys through life, we must not give into the temptation to simply “shrug” and go on our merry way (as a popular twentieth century author suggests). No, we must learn to ask for the desire to move forward, the grace to walk in true freedom, and the humility to let go of attachments that simply add to our load without giving us life. And so, the next time we catch ourselves complaining about how we have the weight of the world on our shoulders, we should look to Jesus whose “yoke was easy and burden light” (Mt 11:30) and be reminded that we have only truly taken up the Cross when our feet are taking us somewhere in life (cf. Mt 16:24). Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Brother Charles Borromeo Harding, C.S.C. (1838-1922)
Patrick Harding was born in Ireland and entered the Congregation of Holy Cross in 1862. A carpenter’s son, he became a self-taught institutional builder and construction manager involved in almost every new addition to Notre Dame’s physical plant between 1868 and 1911. St. Edward’s Hall, Corby Hall, Dujarié Hall (now Carroll Hall), the Institute of Technology (now Crowley Hall of Music), the current Sacred Heart Basilica, and the boat house are all his extent designs. He also built two wings of Sorin Hall, the Fieldhouse Gymnasium (no longer on the campus), the Manual Labor School, the Ave Maria Offices, the Community House (now Columba Hall), the Portiuncula Chapel (no longer on campus), and the first post office. In 1879 he also served as the supervising architect of the Main Building. Finally, in the 1880’s he oversaw the building of the dome and a spire each going up simultaneously. There are no records that indicate that he had taken any courses in construction nor architectural renderings. Tradition has it that Brother Charles used unsawn tree trunks from the Michigan hardwood forests as the inner structural supports around which he fashioned the piers that support Sacred Heart’s vaulted roof. (Adapted from Schlereth, Thomas J. “A Spire of Faith: The University of Notre Dame’s Sacred Heart Church,” 1991)
The minutes from the meetings of the Notre Dame Council of Administration for 1897-1900 illustrate how greatly Brother Charles’ services were in demand and how extensive his contributions to the growth of Notre Dame:
22 January 1897: Brother Charles Borromeo is authorized to build the two wings at Sorin Hall at an estimate of $12,000.
26 March 1897: Brother Charles is requested to make a plan and an estimate to enlarge the gymnasium.
9 April 1897: Brother Charles is directed to make plans and specifications for the new Manual Labor School to be ready for September.
18 March 1898: The Portiuncula Chapel is to be taken down and the bricks used for the new gymnasium.
22 September 1899: Brother Charles was appointed to draw the plans for the new Community House. Stones and bricks are to be ordered and the construction begun at once.
23 March 1900: It was directed to erect one more wing to the new Community House at Mount St. Vincent.
His competence extended beyond Notre Dame to the University of Portland where he worked from 1911-1922 and built the sisters’ convent. Because of his age, he was sent back to Notre Dame, but had to stop in Salt Lake City and seek assistance from the Sisters’ hospital where he died. He is buried in Holy Cross Cemetery. In 1983 archivist Brother Edward Sniatecki wrote, “Brother Charles Borromeo was always quiet and retired in manner: a genuine, gentle and courageous religious. A man of deep faith and sincere piety which was never showy. He loved the rule and practiced it with fidelity.” The Columbiad of the University of Portland carried the following obituary notice in October, 1922:
Once more I missed Him on the accustomed hill,
Along the heath and near his favorite tree;
Another came, nor yet beside the rill,
Nor up the lawn, nor at the wood was he.
When we were kids, we tried to imagine what the end of outer space looks like. Is there a fence? A concrete wall? A sign posted? But again and again our minds refused to accept such a ridiculous conclusion, because we all knew that there would be something on the other side of the fence, wall, sign, etc. that would have to be accounted for! This simple intellectual exercise is a good analogy for our human journeys. At what point will we finally be discontented with the narrow space of our self-containment? When will our hearts be restless enough for us to take the risk of living outside the little worlds we have created for ourselves? How long will it take for us to realize that we were meant for transcendence and not complacency?! We have only to look to the Cross, that boundary-pressing reality, which invites us to go beyond what we feel to be safe and secure. Indeed, this Jesus, crucified outside the literal walls of Jerusalem, wants us to discover our true selves in this bold act of trust that puts us in touch with the infinite, where our true identities as children of our heavenly Father are realized. So, the next time we find ourselves sad and depressed and feeling stuck in life, we should ask ourselves whether we have settled for a fence or a wall, then consider adopting the Cross as the pattern that will lead us to true life. Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Sister María Luisa Güereña, CSC (1928-2020)
Amada María Luisa Güereña was born in Los Angeles, California, of parents who had migrated from Mexico. She was the second oldest and first daughter of José María Güereña, a blacksmith, and Magdalena Gómez, a homemaker. As the first girl she must have been “The Beloved,” as her first name in Spanish implies. After graduating in 1946 from a Catholic girls’ high school in Los Angeles, where she was called “Mary Louise,” she entered the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Cross. At the end of her postulancy she received the habit and the name Sister María Dominga. She later wrote that her religious vocation came first from “our home, which was deeply Mexican in its religiosity and in its customs.” Throughout her life she sought to claim an authentic identity and spirituality rooted in her Mexican values and those of the Congregation, which was culturally Euro-American in 1946.
Making her initial profession of vows in February 1949, Sister Maria later earned a Bachelor of Education from the College of Saint Mary of the Wasatch, Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1959. Her schooling prepared her for 28 years as an educator—from the care of orphans at St. Ann Orphanage in Salt Lake City to training teachers in Telêmaco Borba, Brazil.
Over a lifetime, Sister María Luisa spent 59 years in full-time ministries of education and pastoral care, in schools, hospitals, and parishes in California, Utah, Idaho, Arizona, Texas, Indiana, and Brazil. After many years serving the Church and the Congregation so generously, she retired from active ministry in 2008 to live at Saint Catherine by the Sea Convent, Ventura, California, where she served in a ministry of prayer while volunteering in chaplaincy in local hospitals, particularly in neonatal intensive care units, utilizing both her experience and her bilingual skills. As an artist, she had once worked at Franciscan Communications in filmmaking in Los Angeles. In Ventura, she enjoyed making pottery, painting watercolors, and contemplating the garden she tended from the patio outside her bedroom.
Sister María Luisa wrote in a reflection years ago that transitions were difficult and challenging for her, but they opened new vistas and provided “an ongoing pilgrimage of discovery.” After a long illness, Sister María Luisa completed her pilgrimage of discovery dying at Mary Health of the Sick, a skilled nursing facility in Newbury Park, California. –Written by Sister M. Joseph Cecile (Voelker), CSC
Any experienced teacher will tell you that the true sign that learning has taken place in a student is her or his ability to generate a new idea at the end of a given unit, semester or course. This is the whole essence of doctoral studies and the goal that is articulated in modern educational theories. Indeed, when the mind has wrestled with, organized, analyzed, weighed and assessed material and then drawn a conclusion, what was originally information is transformed into some new insight, some exciting fruit that just must be shared with others! It should not surprise us therefore that the Divine Master, the Logos, who is the eternal “word” or “idea” of God, allowed his very self to be examined, wrestled with, beaten up and ultimately concluded, or ended (cf. Jn 19:30), upon the Cross. And what happens next? That life-giving, eucharistic blood flows from his side, some new fruit of this drama that is shared with others and as such literally generates new people – saints, disciples and apostles. If we could just become like Christ and adopt a constantly crucified form interiorly, we would stand to gain much! We would become people with a deep knowledge of the meaning of life and we would spend our days feeding others the fruits of this contemplation. Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Father Alexander Kirsch, C.S.C. (1855-1923)
“As a boy of seventeen he left Luxemburg for America and received the Holy Cross habit in 1873 being ordained in 1880. For the next two years he studied at the University of Louvain, Belgium, where he prepared to assume the heavy teaching duties [in biological sciences] at our university. It is almost impossible to form an estimate of the sacrifices which his half-century of educational work involved…. Father Kirsch taught as many as thirteen hours a day; taught subjects ranging from German to zoology. The work actually left him without sufficient time to get meals, so that only the robust constitution of the man could have resisted the appalling grind of daily labor. As the school grew he got time to devote himself to those branches of science in which he remained most deeply interested—zoology, anatomy and geology. His name was synonymous with authority in these subjects, and during the years of his prime no teacher enjoyed a greater popularity with his classes or served them more devotedly…. Father Kirsch coveted no honors, sought no applause. The testimonial of his desire was honest service bearing fruitful results” Scholastic, 1923.
“The root of biology at the University of Notre Dame is grounded in the work of Rev. Alexander Kirsch. A successful anatomist, cytologist and bacteriologist, he formally established biology at the University in 1890. A somewhat reclusive person, the large-framed priest was seldom seen on campus except in the classroom or the laboratory, where he would spend as many as 13 hours a day. He established a four-year course in biology in 1890. The new curriculum was billed as ‘an immediate preparation for the study of medicine or veterinary science or with a view to teaching or otherwise engaging in biological science.’ Kirsch has devised a rigorous curriculum of 19 courses in the department—the majority of which he taught. The biology department continually expanded during Father Kirsch’s term as head. Father Kirsch suffered a heart attack on December 28, 1921. Never totally recovering from the original attack, he died at the age of 67 in 1923.” Jane Kane and John Monczunski, Department of Information Services, University of Notre Dame, nd.
The Cross is the way that we come to know and understand things; indeed, it is only by analyzing and assessing some thing (bringing it to its “end,” Jn 19:30) that we become properly disposed to the Truth which the thing points to (cf. Jn 14:6). And if we do not go through this Cross process, we will simply be stuck in a world of sensory data that never arrives at the Truth. This is why in every question of his famous Summa Theologica Thomas Aquinas examines all angles of a given problem and even adopts, if only for a moment, the arguments of his opponents. Once the process has been completed, he can unambiguously present the concluding Truth. Perhaps this is the meaning of the Prodigal Son’s journey, that he cannot feel at peace in his father’s house until he has taken all of the other possibilities to their proper end. When he finally crosses the threshold back into the loving embrace of his father’s arms (and it is no coincidence that this happens through the blood of the slaughtered calf, Lk 15:23), his tearful and happy comportment is juxtaposed with his bitter and angry brother who stands in the Truth but who never went through the process of taking ownership of it. Let us therefore not be afraid to be prodigals and theologians who are led through life by that constant interior process that is the Cross. Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
BROTHER FLORIAN FLYNN, C.S.C. (1850-1923)
Brother Flo (James Flynn) was born in Ireland in 1850 and entered Holy Cross in 1876. After a brief illness he died in 1923. He was a teacher for most of his years in Holy Cross and spent the last twenty years at the University of Notre Dame as a rector of St. Joseph Hall (now Badin Hall). In 1916 he became the university guest master.
The following extracts are adapted from a 1923 Scholastic article written in his remembrance. “While the field was ringing with enthusiastic delight in one of the best games Notre Dame has seen, a little bell rang out also to say that Brother Flo had died. We should have chosen no other setting for this last voyage of his; he must have liked to know that as the hard days were drawing to an everlasting end for him, the boys were back at the old school once more, thronging in to find it the same place that their youth had dreamed it was…. Brother Flo was a man of God, of course, but also a man of the earth. There was the unflagging question mark in his character which beguiled us. There was the canny calculation of a mind utterly too simple for strategy. You met Flo, but that wasn’t the end of it. Every new contact was a revelation that made you not only smile, but also smile affectionately. He had in himself everything that has run like a stream through generations of education here. His pockets were crammed with community cigars, which atrocities were bestowed with a condescending grace that somehow perfumed the ensuing smoke with odors of Havana. The flavor of Flo’s handshake combined something of the dignity of a Presidential greeting with the spice of a recklessly off-side—as if this expression of cordiality on his part were being done against all the rules of the game, for the sheer pleasure of the game. And to proceed with Flo down the spaces of the art galleries! His were the remarks of a connoisseur who treated every picture with reverence—and originality. There never was a better Notre Dame man. Every stone and stick of the place were catalogued in his heart, and he treasured the voices of old boys long after they had been brushed away by the long winds.”
And from Brother Aidan’s Extracts: “The life of Brother Florian was a golden moment of Christian Charity. As rector for ten years of St. Joseph Hall, this noble man of Christ wound himself inextricably into the lives of the motley throng…. To those who went to him for advice, for a faculty cigar, or merely for the opportunity to enjoy his loveable and unique companionship, he was a real friend…. About him hung a mantle of human feeling which he was ready to share with any disheartened wayfarer. In a world that in places seems more or less ungodly, he pierces the gloom with the homely glow of memory.”
The prophet Isaiah gives us a very beautiful image of what it is like to enter the kingdom when he says that we shall be “clothed with the garments of salvation” (61:10). The embrace of our loving Father is indeed like having our whole being covered with his Spirit as a robe is fitted to a body. So what then do we make of the unusual detail that Joseph’s robe was “multi-colored” (Gen 37:3)? This beloved son of Israel received this tunic with great honor, something special that set him apart from his brothers, but the dream-coat quickly became a source of jealousy and thus a burden that caused poor Joseph much suffering throughout the ordeal of being sold into slavery and eventually imprisonment. Like the patriarch Joseph and eventually Christ, before we can rightly be clothed with that dazzling garment of salvation, we must first accept the uniquely textured and multi-faceted robe that is laid upon us. At first we may see these beautiful threads, like Joseph, as a source of great pride, but then we discover just how heavy those colors can be! Fear not, however, because it is precisely through our willingness to take ownership of the drama of this, our cross, that something resurrectional can be woven out of our souls, and that is our salvation. Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Sister Mary Aloysius (Hanora) Mulcaire (1845-1916)
Hanora Mulcaire was born in Ireland, in 1845, the daughter of Michael Mulcaire and Mary Stokes. She entered the Congregation, February 6, 1873, from Ireland. She received the habit, August 26, 1873, and made Final Profession, August 15, 1875, at Notre Dame du Lac, Notre Dame, Indiana. She died at Holy Cross Convent, Notre Dame, Indiana, January 12, 1916, and is interred in Our Lady of Peace Cemetery, Saint Mary’s, Notre Dame, Indiana. Eight hundred cadets from the Notre Dame battalion marched in the funeral procession. The funeral oration was delivered by the Very Rev. Dr. Cavanaugh, president of the university. Sister Aloysius was a teacher. With the exception of one year at Saint Bernard’s, Watertown, Wisconsin, she taught at Saint Edward’s Hall, Notre Dame, Indiana. “She came to the Notre Dame of the seventies (1870’s) as a simple Irish girl with a sweet brogue and blue eyes.” A “resourceful woman, meeting every difficulty with some wise settlement, every trouble with unobtrusive sympathy.” (Scholastic, January 15, 1916) Sister Aloysius was the head of the Minim department for so long that even she, blunt and direct as she was, might have objected to an exact computation of the period of years. Certainly, it was in the early 1870’s that she assumed the guidance of Father Sorin’s “Princes.” “[A]s she knelt before him [Father Sorin]: ‘Honora Mulcaire, hereafter you shall be called Sister Aloysius;’ and in thought added ‘You shall take care of my Minims — my Princes — down the years’. . . for the past forty-odd years, she made young boys from six to twelve . . . gentle and thoughtful, strong, studious and resourceful. How she did this was her secret. . .” Perhaps when one says Sister Aloysius’ system was her personality one arrives nearest the truth. Of her ability and tact, there is no doubt. She was a lovable sort of tyrant who knew well how to get along with both parents and children. Hers was a motherly soul that went directly to the heart of these children in whom Father Sorin placed the “future of the Church in America.” One might say that she was a political saint. She knew how to make peace between all parties. Very seldom was her word contradicted. She found herself almost always a “final board of appeal between disputants.” I [Father Arthur Hope] have seen a letter written by a disturbed parent, in which he made some complaint concerning his son who was a Minim. The letter was sent originally to Father Cavanaugh who turned it over to Brother Paul the Hermit [Macintyre], who, on account of his acerbity, was called “The Hornet.” Paul made an annotation on the letter remarking that the woman (Sister Aloysius) was an “old tartar;” the letter found its way to Sister Aloysius, who added, under the Brother’s remark, “And he calls me an old tartar!” After her death, one who knew her well wrote: “One more well-known figure passed out of the complex, busy life of Notre Dame University when Sister Aloysius died at the convent infirmary last Wednesday. After the great Father Sorin himself, Sister Aloysius ranks next in years of service at the University.” (Hope, CSC, Father Arthur, Notre Dame—100 Years) Below is a poem penned in her honor by an unknown admirer:
AND is this death, to take Life’s very Bread,
And with her High-Priest Christ go hand in hand
Into that—shall we call it—shadow-land,
Where day’s dominion is forever spread?
And should we mourn that lights about her head,
Stand as four great archangels there might stand.
That now she lies as deathless vows had planned?
If this is death, then she indeed is dead.
For she had need no more of word or sign.
For she has passed from darkness into day
Where there is no more fear, or loss, or strife.
Than we she was more wise who did not pine
To leave the body’s broken house of clay.
Who knew the truer name for death is Life.
Generosity is an excellent sign that the Cross has been integrated into the fabric of our being. Generosity not in the sense of giving out of our abundance, but in the sense of giving spontaneously, moved by the spirit, and out of our poverty. This giving-pattern is an indication that we are no longer enslaved to the feeling of interior attachments and comforts that we think we need to guard and protect, but that our Beloved dwells in our inner room and with nothing to hold onto and nothing to lose, we simply give. We give and give and give and give and give and give and give! It makes us happy and healthy and human. Even nailed to the Cross, Jesus gives – forgiveness (“Forgive them Father…” in Lk 23:34), community (“Mother, here is your son…” in Jn 19:26), vulnerability (“My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” in Mt 27:46), humility (“I thirst.” in Jn 19:28), and trust, (“Into your hands, I commend my spirit.” in Lk 23:46). Jesus even gives us the Eucharist, flowing in the form of blood out of the side of his dead body (Jn 19:34), and continues to feed us with the life-giving Spirit from his place at the right hand of the Father (Jn 14:16). Indeed, when all else fails, and it will, simply give. Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Brother Basil (John) Magnus, CSC (1828-1909)
“It was a sorrowful message the Church bells announced to us on Friday, February 12, 1909; another member of Holy Cross has been called to his reward, a member long esteemed and loved by all—Brother Basil—[he] left suddenly, but not unprepared. His entire life has been an act of preparation for the supreme moment.” (Scholastic, 42:349) “He was a man of extraordinary modesty. When he joined the Congregation of Holy Cross he came with no blare of trumpets. It was not known then or afterward until it was accidentally discovered that he was gifted with a genius for music; that in all America there were few who knew the contents of musical literature as he did, and fewer still could interpret them with such exquisite delicacy and feeling.” (Father John Cavanaugh, funeral oration) “Genius seldom hides and when it does, someone uncovers it. For some months after Brother Basil joined the Congregation…in 1852, he revealed nothing of his musical background he had acquired in Bavaria, Germany. The fact was that he was something of a child prodigy, playing viola when he was eight years old and learning the violin previous to that age.…Professor Maximilian E. Girac, a music teacher at Notre Dame…discovered Brother Basil. No longer could the modest religious hide the fact that he excelled at piano and organ and proficiently played on many instruments, among them oboe and flute. Professor Girac is believed to be the founder of the music department at Notre Dame, and the list of the faculty members in 1852 contains just one musician, Brother Basil.” (Schmidt, CSC, Br. Evan, “One Man’s Music”, N.D.) He was the organist at Sacred Heart Church for fifty-six years; his only assignment for the entirety of his religious life. Perhaps he was best memorialized by renowned Holy Cross poet Father Charles L. O’Donnell, C.S.C. (d. 1934) who wrote the ode “The Dead Musician” on the day of Brother Basil’s death. Below is the first verse:
He was the player and the played upon,
He was the actor and the acted upon,
Artist, and yet himself a substance wrought;
God played on him as he upon the key,
Moving his soul to mightiest melodies
Of lowly serving, his austerities,
And holy thought that our high dream outtops, —
He was an organ where God kept the stops.
Of all he gave us came so wondrous clear
As that he sounded to the Master’s ear.
Here is something to consider the next time we find ourselves in the middle of a crisis situation – that the Cross only makes sense once it has been passed through. In the moment, it is confusing, disruptive, dark and painful. Like our Lord, we too cry out from this place of high vulnerability, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Yet, from deep within us, powerful, albeit unspoken, words call us to keep taking steps forward. And, like Christ, our feet are in fact led to that safe harbor, through the sheer grace of providence, where we can stand, look back and have perspective – “Oh, now I get it!” It is like Moses experiencing the call to lead his people across the desert to the sea. Even though it did not make sense at the time and it was stressful to be on a path that seemed like it would simply dead-end and result in a massacre, Moses trusted. But once the trial was over, it all made so much sense! Horse and chariot were cast into the sea! Maybe our current crisis is really the slow work of God being worked out in ways that we cannot possibly understand in the moment. Maybe ours is simply to trust and walk. Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Father Joseph Carrier, CSC (1833-1904)
The youngest of ten children in a respected and wealthy French family, he received his early education under the care of a private tutor before attending Belley College where he excelled in science and mathematics. In his early teens he was appointed professor of natural science (physics) in a small college in Geneva, Switzerland. In 1855, he came to America and joined Holy Cross being ordained in 1861. In 1863 while teaching Latin and Greek at Notre Dame and serving as pastor of a South Bend Church, Father Sorin told him to be ready at a moment’s notice to join Ulysses S. Grant as a chaplain. Days later he was commissioned to the 6th Missouri Infantry Regiment and became chaplain of Grant’s entire army. (Schmidt, James M. Notre Dame and the Civil War: Marching Onward to Victory, 2010, pp. 35-37)
Father Carrier organized courses in botany and established two botanical gardens, the first to the west of the old Church in 1867, and a second, much larger and more permanent, at the southeast end of St. Joseph’s Lake. During his relatively short period in charge of the museum — he was made President of St. Mary’s College, Galveston, Texas in 1874 — he added several thousand specimens to the collection of minerals and of zoological and botanical specimens. In 1869 Doctor Boyd’s large collection of skeletons was acquired, and the minerals, fossils, fauna collected by J. W. Veasey in Colorado, valued at six thousand dollars, were purchased by Notre Dame in 1878. About the same time a collection of New Zealand plants, particularly ferns, was given to the museum by a missionary in that far-off island, Father S. Barthos. When Father Carrier took up his new position in Texas, the museum was transferred to the care of Father John A. Zahm. But like the early collection of Edwards, all of these precious treasures of science were lost in the conflagration of 1879, except for a small collection of specimens which were not in the building at the time. The destruction of the herbarium, containing over eight thousand distinct species of plants, which Carrier called one of the most precious and complete to be found in America, was surely the most important loss to the museum. And Zahm, like Edwards and Sorin, immediately set to work to build up again an even greater collection than that which had been lost. Carrier himself, who passed his last years at St. Laurent College, near Montreal, and who never lost his enthusiasm for collecting, gave his second collection, composed of Canadian plants, to Notre Dame after presenting it, on exposition, at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. A substantial gain was likewise made when the University procured the collection of four thousand specimens of W. E. Calkins, of Chicago, in 1887. He died in Montreal in 1904.” (Hope, CSC Father Arthur, Notre Dame – 100 Years, 1942)
At first look, the intense focus and insistence on circumcision in the story of salvation may seem odd or even troubling given how good and loving our heavenly Father really is. St. Paul, however, invites us to see the spiritual meaning of this practice when he writes, “For a person is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is true circumcision something external and physical. Rather, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly, and real circumcision is a matter of the heart” (Rom 2:28-29). Indeed, the act of cutting off the excesses in our life, which make our hearts “fat and gross” (Ps 119:70), frees us to be more in touch with the One whom our hearts have loved all along (Song 3:1), and it is the Cross that emerges as the proper instrument of this spiritual circumcision. Like the angel with the fiery sword posted at the entrance to the garden (Gen 3:30), the Cross stands at the door of our hearts confronting the world and bringing to an end (Jn 3:30) all those emotions, memories, attachments and desires that prevent the spiritual bird within us from taking off in flight (Ps 11:1). Let us therefore not be afraid to be marked with this ancient sign, for we will only share in Christ’s resurrection insofar as we are willing to accept, like him, these scars of the journey. Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Sister Miriam Joseph Rauh, CSC (December 17, 1898-November 11, 1982)
She was born in Glandorf, Ohio, the daughter of Henry Francis Rauh and Mary Ann Priesdendorfer. She entered the Congregation on September 21, 1919, received the Habit, August 15, 1920, and made Final Profession August 15, 1925. She died at Saint Mary’s Convent, and is interred in Our Lady of Peace Cemetery, Saint Mary’s, Notre Dame, Indiana. Sister Miriam Joseph served as Chair of the English Department at Saint Mary’s College from 1947-1969 and was the author of Trivium, a textbook developed for her interdisciplinary course on literature, logic, and rhetoric. President William Hickey of St. Mary’s (1986-1997) described her “as perhaps the most distinguished scholar to be identified with the College in this century.” She wrote a text combining into one contemporary course the three arts of the trivium, by means of their interrelationship. Faculty opinion was divided on the questions of integrating the three subjects and of the way in which the term rhetoric was interpreted. Despite some turmoil (and supposed protests), the course was taught with both its values and limitations from 1935-1959. Alumnae still say that whatever else they have forgotten of their education, they will never forget the trivium.
There is no one among us who enjoys being labeled. Maybe while we were growing up we were called “the class clown” or “the middle child” or “the rebel” or “the loaner.” The folks who laid these judgments on us, our souls, our human dignity, likely did not mean to hurt us. They simply succumbed to the temptation of taking the small part for the whole. We should nevertheless not be too worried about how another person chooses to see us. Each and every one of us has the profound dignity of being this child of God. This kind of deep security is our bulwark and protection against the enemy who is always searching out instruments to disrupt the kingdom, the reality of peace and love within each of us. Let us therefore turn to the Cross and look upon the crucified one with that bold, unapologetic label hanging over his poor, naked body – “King of the Jews.” How his trust in his loving father destroys the power of that mockery! How his unwavering awareness and acceptance of his Abba, in the face of such psychological and physical brutality, prevails! Each of us should be very sensitive to the way that labels hurt our sisters and brothers, and each of us should not be afraid to enter more deeply into the depths of his love when we encounter such adversity along the way. Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Brother John Chrysostom (Mark) Will, C.S.C. (April 25, 1839-May 16, 1919)
In a June 5, 1887 letter to Father Sorin, Brother John Chrysostom Will writes: “…on this day 24 years ago I was in the line of battle awaiting the charge. We were being shelled at the time, and I heard in a clear, distinct voice, ‘You will die today’. I knew it was no human voice, and I was perfectly conscious of the certainty of death. I prayed fervently as I had never prayed before to our sweet mother that if she would intercede for me and get me safely out that I would surely delay no longer in responding to the call that was continually urging me to apply to some religious community for admission. I had hardly concluded my prayer, when the same voice said, ‘You will only be hurt today’. And so it happened. I delayed three years after the war in fulfilling my promise when I enlisted under the banner of Holy Cross.”
Mark Will was born in 1839 in Chess Springs, PA and entered Holy Cross in 1867 taking final vows in 1869. He served throughout the Civil War in the 54th Pennsylvania Regiment, taking part in many of the fiercest battles. Soon after fire destroyed the Main Building at the University of Notre Dame, Brother John Chrysostom wrote to Father Sorin from Galveston, TX where he was superior: “I could hardly realize at first that my dear Alma Mater was a heap of unsightly ruins. My regret for the loss and my sympathy for you were so great that I felt it would be mockery on my part to attempt to give expression to my feelings unless I would send you something to repair the loss. …You must not think for a moment that the enclosed draft for $500 is to be the measure of that sympathy and my regret for the loss of those fine buildings.”
Upon his death in 1919, this short obituary was posted in Scholastic (52:494): “There passed away at Notre Dame on Friday, May 6th, at the age of 80, Brother John Chrysostom, former assistant Master of Novices at St. Joseph Novitiate and for many years commander of the Notre Dame Post of the G.A.R. As a young man the deceased did valiant services throughout the Civil War, at Gettysburg and many other fields, in behalf of the Union. At the end of the War he joined the Congregation of Holy Cross at Notre Dame, and since that time has been intimately associated with the furtherance of the works of the Community.” He had two hobbies—bee keeping and researching the life and ministry of Russian prince Father Gallitzin who renounced his heritage and became a missionary in Pennsylvania. As bee-keeper, the novitiate was never without honey, and he contributed frequently to magazines about bee-culture. “By the many priests and Brothers who as novices under his direction knew him intimately he will long be remembered as an example of genuine spirituality and fervent loyalty to the interests of the Congregation.” (Scholastic, 1919)
If you have ever met someone who is autistic, you know how frustrating it is for him or her to be stuck-in-self (which is the literal meaning of “autism”) – the person is inside observing life but struggling to actually reach out, make contact and interact with others. There is a distinctly paschal character to this hidden drama: the feeling of being separated, the deep desire to connect, the spending of one’s self to transcend those inner limits, moments of real relationships, a kind of dying and rising that takes the breath away of those who accompany their autistic loved ones along the way. What if the Cross was the icon for this journey? What if the Cross’s definitive and bold ‘no-to-self’ is the antidote for these poor ones who are stuck-in-self? The Cross stands indeed as a sign of hope that it is possible to find the secret door (Jn 10:9), to pass over into open pastures (John 10:9) and to finally have life (Jn 14:6). May we be inspired by our autistic sisters and brothers who truly live the Cross day in and day out, modeling for us, who are all stuck-in-self in one way or another, how to undertake the slow process of transformation that leads to resurrected life. Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Brother Stanislaus (John) Clark, C.S.C. (1838-1916)
Brother Stanislaus (John) Clarke, C.S.C. was born in Ireland and entered Holy Cross when he was 26 years old. He was a capable student and became a proponent of promoting the use of shorthand. He taught the system of “sound writing” at Notre Dame for many years and made many personal improvements to the system. Sir Isaac Pitman, who invented shorthand in 1837, considered Brother Stanislaus both a scholarly colleague and a good friend. Father Daniel Eldred Hudson, C.S.C., who was appointed the editor of the Ave Maria in 1875, considered Brother Stanislaus to be one of the early founders of the Press and the periodical. In 1865, Father Sorin proposed to the sisters that they publish a magazine “in honor of Our Blessed Mother.” The vote was unanimous and Mother Angela Gillespie and her sisters “pledged themselves to assist [Father Sorin] in this great work.” Father Sorin, the first publisher, was followed by Father Neal Gillespie, Mother Angela’s brother. In February of 1973, “the actual printing was turned over to the Sisters who received their first lessons from Brother Stanislaus.” In his 1916 obituary published in the Scholastic, it was said of Brother Stanislaus that “he was a model of every Christian and religious virtue [and] a man of varied talents, all of which he faithfully employed in the service of God for nearly a half century.”
A popular new phrase that people have been using to communicate genuineness is “the real deal” – this person is the real deal because he is true to his word, or, that person is the real deal because she never lets you down, etc. And while it is excellent that there is an expression out there that helps to identify integrity when we see it, we all know that there is one and only one “real deal” whose words and actions are always in harmony. This Jesus, who is the Word, is real in the sense that to encounter him is to encounter the truth. His deep meaning as a person is not mediated by an ideology, a persona, a bank account, or a title. Rather, being stripped down to his core, broken open on the Cross, and presented for all to see – as he is! – makes him the definitive “real deal.” There is no escape from his fundamental identity, no confusion about what his life means, no possibility of missing the point of his journey. The best way for us to conform ourselves to “the real deal” par excellence is to spend time with his “real presence” – in scripture, in the liturgy, with the community of believers, and most especially in the eucharist. By doing so, we too are guaranteed to become trusting children of the Father – the read deal in our own right. Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
The Work of Resurrection has been posted for October. This monthly newsletter is written for Holy Cross Educators around the country and world.
Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
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!
Sister Lucy Lalsangzuali, CSC (August 13, 1974-June 4, 2020)
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!
Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
The Voice of Moreau is returning on September 15th! Join us for weekly meditations, inspirational stories, reflections, comments and fellowship. 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!
Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
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!
Voice of Moreau: The psychology of C.J. Jung was very focused on archetypes, universal patterns that reveal deep truths about the human psyche. The primary four archetypes, found in each and every human soul, include: The Self, The Shadow, The Persona and The Anima/Animus. Because these dimensions of the subconscious together constitute the experience of being human, we should trust that the Cross embodies the entire drama therein. The naked body of our Lord, stretched out and laid open upon the wood of the Cross, is the image of the Self in all of its vulnerability. The wounds of Christ, in his hands, feet, head and side, are the mark of the Shadow who dwells within us and inexplicably seems to work against our own good. “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews,” that is, the Messiah, can be likened to the Persona, or role that we each play in life. And while the Animus is the boldness with which Christ crucified proclaims the Good News, especially in the defiant way he confronts both Jewish and Roman authority, the passivity of the Son who hands over his spirit to his heavenly Father should remind us of the Anima. Let us, therefore, not be afraid to engage in the science of psychology to affirm the truth of the Cross. Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Father James Burns, C.S.C. (1867-1940)
Father Burns was born in Michigan City, Indiana in 1867. He entered Holy Cross in 1888 and was ordained in 1893, the year Father Sorin died. For a number of years, as superior of Holy Cross College in Washington, D.C., he was instrumental not only in the development of that house of studies but in the early progress of the Catholic University, being recognized even in those years as an authority and champion of Catholic education in the United States. As the spirit of the missions began to take hold in the country, Father Burns recognized the importance of fostering this spirit in the Congregation of Holy Cross and gave every encouragement in his power toward the crystallization of that spirit in the foundation of the mission periodical, The Bengalese. In 1927 he was selected to act as Provincial in the United States, a position he held until his election as Assistant to the Superior General in the summer of 1938. Though the prospect of the journey to India and the difficulties of an official visitation of the mission were far from promising, Father Burns bravely faced the sacrifices involved and journeyed to India in the fall of 1935. While in India he visited personally all of the mission stations of the Dacca territory. With paternal patience he listened to the enthusiastic outline of opportunities as painted by the “zealous tongues” of the missionaries and he returned to the States visibly impressed with the foreign mission apostolate of Holy Cross in Bengal. The Mission Procurator and those associated with him in the apostolate of financing the mission acknowledged their heavy debt of gratitude to Father Burns for the careful consideration and seasoned guidance he offered all their plans for the furtherance of their work and the unlimited cooperation and encouragement he gave them in their work, not only by word, but especially by deed. The last months of Father Burns’ life were days of inexpressible pain. “In dying, as in life, Father Burns remained to the end an example to be aimed at in imitation by his religious brethren.” (Adapted from a memorial by Father Francis Goodall, C.S.C., October 1940, The Bengalese)
Voice of Moreau: Have you ever seen Michelangelo’s Last Judgment painting? While none of us is surprised when we see the Cross carrying souls upward to heaven on Christ’s right side, we should all marvel at the “crosses” which appear on Christ’s left. There is a heavy pillar that weighs souls down; there are literal crosses that seem to cause confusion among the damned; there are other objects, such as a knife, keys, arrows and a saw, which these souls cling to as they sink more and more deeply into the underworld. The artist undoubtedly wants to teach us a lesson about the Cross: It is a singular reality, shared by all disciples, raising souls up to their perfection, held only with an open hand, giving true life. If today, at this very moment, judgment were upon us, could we claim to stand with the saints who, “caught up in the clouds,” are prepared “to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thes 4:17)? Have we taken up the true yoke that is easy and accepted the one burden that is light (Mt 11:30)? In a world of false hopes and empty promises, may each of us learn to prefer the Cross and thus float into the freedom of salvation. Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Response: “Learning to love the cross as a sign of real hope was the spiritual core of [Blessed] Moreau’s theology. Learning entailed practice, and walking the way of the cross meant recognizing three things for Moreau: that Christ represents the only possible reconciliation between interior dispositions and exterior actions, that union with Christ means union not only with his life but also his death, and that those who learn the mystery of Christ are also learning his resurrection” (Grove and Garwrych, Basil Moreau: Essential Writings, 2014, 45). As students are preparing to return for another year of school, teachers, too, are preparing to accept them into their classrooms. How will teachers educate their students to love the cross as the source of their hope for this world and the next? Certainly, this task begins before the students arrive as teachers are gathered in meetings prior to the first day of classes. As individuals and a corporate entity, teachers must conscientiously plan each class, each week, each semester around that education which forms and nourishes the heart as well as filling the mind with facts. Begin each class a prayer that focuses the mind and instructs the heart to regulate the application of the knowledge for the day. Let the last thing you say to your class be a reminder to walk in the shoes of those around them. A prayer that assists students and teachers to be aware of the many possibilities for taking up the cross throughout the day allows for the practice of the corporal works of mercy that are needed today. In the words of St. James we need to “declare [our] sins to one another, and pray for one another, that [we] may find healing” (James 5:16) and thus to become the compassionate heart of the crucified Lord. Ave Crux Spes Unica!
Brother Urban (Andrew) McKeon, C.S.C. (1835-1912)
“Brother Urban, one of the oldest educators of the Holy Cross order, died at Notre Dame university Friday morning at 4 o’clock. He was porter at the university for several years and during that time had many friends” (South Bend Tribune). When Brother Urban died in 1912, he was a much-revered member of the Congregation as described in 1908 in this Scholastic article. “There is probably no city or important town in the United States which does not hold warm friends of the devoted Brother whose courtesy has committed him to the respect of all who have met him. Not in vain was he named Urban, for urbanity was his characteristic. No hour too late, and no hour too early for him to serve the chance visitor or to dispense to the public the hospitality of the famous University” (42:26). In another Scholastic article he is described as “…refined and gentle [of] manner, the reflection of a beautiful soul” (42:319. 1908). In 1912, Brother Gilbert (James) Horton is quoted in the Notre Dame Alumnus. “No man ever met Brother Urban who could ever forget him. Nature and grace combined to create in him a subtle and unusual charm. Invested with a natural dignity of attractive personal appearance, he went his way through the world, offending none, serving all, and leaving golden memories in the hearts of those who met him.” Brother Urban was born in Ireland and entered the Brothers of Holy Cross when he was 26. He taught in schools in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Indiana and Illinois. He was appointed the first principal of St. Columbkille school in Chicago in 1886 when Edward Hoban, future Archbishop of Cleveland, enrolled in the 4th grade. Brother Urban was considered to be a fine teacher and a very organized and dedicated school administrator.
Father James J. French, C.S.C. (1859-1941)
Father French was the vice-president of the University of Notre Dame from 1893-1905. And he was assistant superior general of the Congregation of Holy Cross for 20 years until 1926. He came to Notre Dame from Cincinnati, Ohio and entered the novitiate in 1878. In 1879 he witnessed the disastrous fire which completely destroyed the young University, and many hours he devoted to clearing bricks for the reconstruction of the new Main Building. He spent his first years in the Congregation at St. Joseph College in Cincinnati where he taught all day and studied theology with Father Peter J. Hurth – who would become an archbishop – at night. Ordained in 1883, he was appointed superior of St. Joseph College for the next five years. He was then appointed the superior of the preparatory seminary at Notre Dame. In 1893, he was appointed the Vice-President and Director of Studies at the University of Notre Dame and became known as a fine orator. In 1905, he returned to St. Joseph College as its President for one year. In 1906, he was appointed assistant superior general and, for the second time, the superior at the preparatory seminary. It is during this time that he became known as a champion of the foreign mission apostolate. It was the General Chapter that appointed him Mission Promoter. The earliest predecessor of The Bengalese, under the name of the Bengal Witness, was published by him. In 1912, the Mission Band of Holy Cross was reorganized to preach missions and retreats throughout the United States. Father French was selected to establish, develop and direct the new effort. He tirelessly labored in this ministry for the next 18 years. Because of failing health, he left the Mission Band and served as chaplain of St. Joseph Hospital in South Bend from 1931-1939 where he was beloved by thousands of the city’s sick because of his ministrations at all hours of the day and night. Prior to his death, he resided at the community house on the campus of the University of Notre Dame. (Complied from information in “The Golden Jubilee of a Friend” The Bengalese, June 1933 [no author] and an obituary in the South Bend Tribune, March 1941)
Voice of Moreau: The word “anxiety” comes from the Latin word angustia which means “narrow straits.” To suffer from anxiety is like walking down a long, dark tunnel that seems to have no end. As a society, we think of anxiety as an enemy. There are drugs out there to remove that feeling of narrowness and relax our minds, as well as talk therapy to help people alleviate the emotional heaviness that plagues us. Nevertheless, the experience of anxiety is a unique spiritual opportunity to trust God. Jesus’ mind must have been obscured by a thick fog on the Cross: Why do I have to go through this? How can anything good come out of my death? Where are all of my family and friends? Why have you abandoned me? Yet, he said yes. Truly, the joy of the resurrection is reserved for those who are willing to walk the way of salvation, though they do not understand: “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Mt 7:13-14). Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Response: St. Paul in his letter to the Romans tells them that “[t]he sufferings of present are nothing compared with the glory to be revealed in us” (8:18). We live in a world that is wedded to many forms of promiscuity. It is so easy to be convinced that a pill can readily provide a cure for any ache or pain. That the application of this or that salve will stave off the effects of aging. That the purchase of this or that gadget will make living increasingly more effortless. And so we give in to these enticements only to find out that our anxieties about living are not alleviated but exacerbated because we have been duped yet again. To see our personal suffering as nothing compared to the glory to be revealed is not easy. It takes more than a one-time yes to God. It is a daily yes–an hourly yes for most of us. What comfort can a Holy Cross educator provide? Make a daily commitment to be zealously faithful to teaching the truth about this life’s journey toward heavenly citizenship. The road is hard because the flesh is weak. If there is a curative for all that ails us, it is compassionate mercy. Do not increase the suffering of the via dolorosa. Ave Crux Spes Unica!
Brother Borromeo (Thomas) Malley, C.S.C. (1913-1994)
Born in 1913 in Chicago, Thomas Malley entered the Holy Cross Brothers in 1931 making final vows in 1936. His first assignment was to take care of the power plant at Sacred Heart College in Watertown, Wisconsin. Two years later, he went to the University of Portland where he took on the role of purchasing agent. In 1937 he was assigned to the University of Notre Dame as director of utilities for 41 years, and for nearly 50 years he was chief of the Notre Dame fire department. Father (now Bishop) Daniel Jenky gave the eulogy at his funeral mass. Here are parts of what he said: “A ‘patriarch,’ according to the dictionary definition, could be described as ‘a venerable old man’ or ‘a revered senior member of a community’ or ‘a respected elder.’ Well, in our Holy Cross family here at Notre Dame, Brother Borromeo rather aptly and completely fulfilled this role…. He was immensely proud that he was Fire Chief for so many years. If for 41 years Brother efficiently kept the fires burning at Notre Dame, he was equally adept for nearly 50 years in putting them out anywhere else on campus. He was given his job in 1939, and by 1940 he had built, from the chassis up, Notre Dame’s first completely motorized fire apparatus…. Brother Borromeo was a wonderful person, a good and faithful brother, a man of religious poverty, and a great friend to an awful lot of people. Borromeo without a lot of fuss or dramatics, lived a life entirely for God and neighbor. He expressed his love and devotion to Our Lady by caring so well and so long for her school.” Father Edmund Joyce, C.S.C. gave the homily. Here is an excerpt: “My first official contact with Brother occurred in 1951 soon after I was named vice president of business affairs. Foreseeing the building boom which would soon be on, Brother Borromeo strongly urged that we utilize our excess steam capacity to generate our own electricity. While this required a large capital expense to get started, we did indeed save millions of dollars by generating our own electrical power…. I had hundreds of business contacts with Brother Borromeo over the next three decades and was continually impressed with his common sense, his rare ability to deal with architects, engineers, contractors, fire chiefs and other professionals on a friendly but business-like basis.” In an article printed in “It’s Notre Dame Fact…” by Phil Loranger, he wrote: “[Brother Borromeo] became only the third man since 1870 to hold the title of director of utilities, a post that made him manager of the tiny, ill-equipped university rail system [ND & W Railroad]. In his nearly 60 years as head of the line, Borromeo never missed the opportunity to improve the track, cars or equipment. The 65-ton, 400-horsepower diesel engine No. 5332, still resplendent in its blue and gold colors, was his proudest contribution…. [T]here was a time when the ND & W had tracks that led to the old ice house and the university stock pens where hogs and steers were unloaded. During World War II, military trains were a common sight on the tracks and until 1962, when the last passenger trains brought Fighting Irish fans to the campus for drop off, as many as five trains would be birthed on the tracks. It was Borromeo and his staff who would lay out more than 5,000 yards of hose to provide water and fuel for the steam and diesel engines while the passengers watched the Irish football team play in the stadium.” “For all of his consummate professionalism in his duties at the university what Brother Borromeo will be remembered for by most of us was that he was first and foremost a true religious—faithful to his God and his vows” (Father Joyce).
Father Michael A. Mathis, C.S.C. (1885-1960)
Born in South Bend, Michael Mathis entered Holy Cross in 1901 and was ordained in 1921. In 1920, he received a doctorate in Holy Scripture form Catholic University. It was about this time that he became interested in the Holy Cross foreign missions and began his plans for a new seminary in Washington, D.C. which would train men especially for India. In 1924, he became the first superior of the Foreign Mission Seminary, and he also inaugurated The Bengalese, a magazine specially interested in promoting Holy Cross foreign mission. Simultaneously, he became a co-founder, together with Dr. Anna Dengle, of women’s religious organization, the Medical Missionaries, whose object was to spread the Catholic religion among the poor and sick women of India. In 1939, he became a faculty member at Notre Dame, and two years was appointed chaplain at St. Joseph Hospital until retirement in 1959. He was considered by all to be a wonderful chaplain.
Sister M. Agatha Ann (Mary Agatha) Farrell, C.S.C. 1923-2019
Three days before her 21st birthday, Mary Agatha Farrell applied to the Sisters of the Holy Cross. She was a civil service secretary working for the War Department in Los Angeles, California, in the last year of World War II. In response to a question about her motivation “for leaving the world,” she replied only, “I feel I have a vocation.” In 2001, she was less cryptic filling out another form, this time explaining why she wanted to apply for a sabbatical for spiritual renewal: “After 56 years as a Sister of the Holy Cross, having worked every year in a school, hospital, or parish, this opportunity would be a ‘first.’” As Sister M. Agatha Ann, she began her ministry in 1947 in elementary education in Catholic parochial schools throughout California and Utah, moving from the classroom to the principal’s office. From 1970 to 1975, while serving as principal, she earned her California license to direct day care-nursery schools. From 1975 to 1977, Sister Agatha Ann was director of personnel in the Department of Education for the Archdiocese of San Francisco. During those years she also worked in special education in public schools in the Daly City School District. Anyone who saw her doing business over the phone would have thought it all looked easy as she spoke with a broad smile. She had wonderful organizational skills, enjoyed being with people and was a good listener. It’s no wonder that Sister Agatha Ann transitioned to pastoral care in 1977 at Holy Cross Hospital, Salt Lake City, Utah. Though she was there only a year, she returned to pastoral care and chaplaincy from 1991 to 1999 at Providence St. Elizabeth Care Center, North Hollywood, California. In the intervening years, from 1978 to 1990, Sister Agatha Ann ministered in several parishes working with the elderly in Southern California and in the Seattle area. Sister Agatha Ann was also a religious superior in her Congregation but was unpretentious in the role, whether as a local convent superior, a postulant formation assistant or regional councilor. Many times, she was also filling other positions beyond the local convent. At the time of Pope John Paul II’s visit to the United States in 1987, she was asked by a reporter in Tenino, Washington, about priestly ordination for women. She was never known as a firebrand, but with a shrug, she reluctantly offered the following viewpoint to The Olympian: “Here at St. Peter’s Mission, we minister as best we can as a group of women in the church. We can do that in so many ways. I would have no objection to women being ordained nor would I have any objection to a married clergy.” Sister retired first to Saint Catherine by the Sea Convent, Ventura, California in 2002, moving in 2011 to Saint Mary’s Convent, Notre Dame, Indiana, where she died. Her older sister, Sister Estelle Marie (Farrell), survives her at Saint Mary’s. Their fine Catholic parents, Louisa Hutson and Jeremiah Farrell, raised seven children in Los Angeles at Saint Agnes Parish, where they were taught by Holy Cross sisters. (Written by Sister Catherine Osimo, CSC.)
Voice of Moreau: Taking up the Cross is not some clean and sterile process. Those who think that they have taken up the Lord’s Cross by a single stroke of the pen or by a single decision are mistaken. The work of dying to self, rather, is a lifelong journey – messy, emotional, confusing, uncertain, but most importantly good. Like falling in love, we discover that if we truly desire to be with our Beloved for the long-term, we must learn how to dance instead of cling, how to hold with an open hand, how to say “thank you,” and how to get up when we fall. By doing so, our lives weave a magnificent image of the invisible God (Col 1:15) which reveals the texture and beauty of the scars of the risen Christ. Let us therefore not be afraid to put out into the deep and risk everything (Luke 5:4), trusting that our Father is already waiting for us in the mess (Gen 1:2). Blessed indeed is the God who walks with us through the fiery furnaces of life (Dan 3:24) and whose own Cross bears witness to the glory and salvation reserved for those who are simply willing to jump in. Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Response: Taking up the Cross is definitely not done at a specific time as a once-and-for-all-time event. Travelling the road of the Cross–“through the fiery furnaces of life”–takes a recommitment each day, and several times during a single day. The poet Langston Hughes writes that “life ain’t no crystal stair”; definitely life is a steep staircase that each of us must climb if we are to realize citizenship in Heaven. The obvious task for Holy Cross educators is to support students along this arduous climb. Assist students to realize that the woes of this life are only made more bearable if each of us does not add to them. Use this message from St. Paul as your prayer for the beginning of this new school year: “Never let evil talk pass your lips; say only the good things people need to hear, things that will really help them. Be kind to one another, compassionate, and mutually forgiving, just as God has forgiven you in Christ” (Ephesians 4:29-32). At the beginning of each class, ask your students to jump in for the long haul. No one needs to look far away from home and the school for opportunities to become the healing love of the crucified Christ. Ave Crux Spes Unica!
Brother Norbert (Leger) Bauer, C.S.C. (1871-1958)
Leger Bauer was born in France near Paris and attended public school. He entered Holy Cross in 1885 and made his first vows in 1888. His first assignment was to teach in grammar school, and in 1890, he began compulsory military service for the France which lasted until 1893. Because of religious persecution in France, he came to Notre Dame in 1901 where he was sent to teach modern languages at Holy Cross High School in New Orleans. In 1903, he was assigned to Columbia University (now the University of Portland) were he taught until 1921. He was then sent back to Europe where is served in the Congregation’s Procure Office in Rome for the next 26 years. This office was the liaison between the Vatican and the Congregation of Holy Cross. In 1946, Brother Norbert had the unusual honor of attending the beatification of his own blood brother, Blessed Andrew Joseph Bauer, O.F.M., who was one of 29 Franciscan missionaries martyred in the Boxer Rebellion, on July 9, 1900 in China. He personally presented a special biography of the martyrs to Pope Pius the XII at the ceremony. In 1947, he retired at Columba Hall and then to the Community Infirmary. Included here are two photos of Blessed Andrew Joseph in both Franciscan habit and traditional Chinese garb. (The Legacy Project composed by Brother Lawrence Stewart, CS.C. n.d.
Father Peter E. Hebert, C.S.C. (1886-1974)
Peter Hebert came to Notre Dame in 1901 as a student in the “industrial school.” He received the habit in 1905 and was ordained in 1914. He received a Ph.D. in classical languages from Notre Dame, and from 1914-1956 taught Latin. He headed the classics department from 1931-39. During all of this time he maintained an active interest in botany and ornithology and achieved a credible excellence in both. Many of his students remembered him as a stimulating teacher and for his bird-watching hikes around the Notre Dame campus. A recognized authority on sedges of Berrien County, Michigan, Father Hebert had a part in naming some of them. He was one of the first members of the community to recognize and use the scientific possibilities of the Martin Gillen property at Land O’ Lakes, Wisconsin where he spent many happy days botanizing on that wild land, identifying and recording various flora. He loved every inch of the Notre Dame campus and authored an exclusive catalog detailing the exact location and species of each tree, shrub and vine there. He also assisted Fr. Julius Nieuwland [of synthetic rubber fame] in establishing the University’s extensive herbarium. “Kind and docile, gentle, unobtrusive, of simple faith, with a profound acceptance of God’s will” were some of the characterizations used in the eulogy of this “true priest and gentleman.” (Excepts taken from Province Review, August 1974)
Sister Ann (Mary Rose Angela) Keating, CSC (1925-2019)
Sister Ann Keating said of herself in 1990 nearing age 65, “I’m a lioness; if you touch my cubs, I’ll protect them.” Sister had delivered at least 500 infants as a nurse-midwife during her 40-plus years in obstetric nursing at hospitals in California, Utah and New Mexico. Betty Ann Keating grew up in Sacramento, California, always wanting to be a nurse like her mother. She attended Holy Rosary Academy, a girls’ boarding school of the Sisters of the Holy Cross in Woodland, California and entered the Sisters of the Holy Cross in 1943 only under the condition that she would be allowed to pursue her primal vocation of nursing. As a student nurse she graduated from College of Saint Mary-of-the-Wasatch, Salt Lake City, Utah, with a Bachelor of Science in 1949 and was certified as a registered nurse at Holy Cross Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah. By 1969, as Sister Ann Keating, she had earned a Master of Science from The University of Utah, also being certified as a nurse-midwife. In 1970, already an experienced head nurse and director of nursing service at Holy Cross-sponsored hospitals in Salt Lake City and Fresno, California, Sister Ann was asked to be on the faculty as an obstetrics instructor at Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital in Watts, California, until 1974. After three years back at Saint Agnes Medical Center in Fresno, Sister Ann’s expertise in midwifery education continued at Los Angeles County/University of Southern California Women’s Hospital (1974-1976), Loma Linda University San Bernardino Campus (1976-1977), the University of San Francisco (1977-1982), and San Francisco General Hospital (1982-1984). Notoriously camera-shy and shunning attention, she graciously accepted the 1991 Woman of the Year Award granted by the Fresno, California Committee on the Status of Women. At the time, Sister Ann was coordinating Women’s Health Services at Saint Agnes Medical Center in Fresno. She also served on the Board of Directors for the Fresno Women’s Network, and chaired a committee to provide opportunities for women to support each other in business, personal and professional growth by networking with one another. Sister Ann remained in Fresno until 2004 when she retired to Saint Catherine by the Sea, Ventura, California. There she pursued her interest in nurturing and became a master gardener in the civic community until 2017 when her ill health brought her to Saint Mary’s Convent, where she died. She said of herself, “I might not have had a child of my own, but I was a mother of many.” (Excepts taken from a eulogy by Sister Catherine Osimo, CSC)
Voice of Moreau: The immigration crisis is really just the story of salvation in disguise. The poor and the oppressed have been beaten up by governments and gangs and extreme weather. They risk everything, their fortunes and homes and even their families, in order to have a fresh start somewhere else. They journey through countless trials and make countless sacrifices, hoping to literally “cross” over the border into the freedom and joy of new life. The drama of immigration thus points unmistakably to our crucified Lord. He is inviting us to join him as he passes over from the dark forces of this world to the Sabbath rest of the next. Let us therefore be careful to not engage in the political and ideological debates surrounding immigration that miss its deeper spiritual implications. Let us constantly be on the lookout for strangers in the midst of our daily lives and assist them in “crossing” thresholds that will lead to life. Let us acknowledge our own interior immigration crisis as we ourselves struggle to live in the light: “You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Deut 10:19). Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Response: “Let us constantly be on the lookout for strangers in the midst of our daily lives and assist them in ‘crossing’ thresholds that will lead to life.” These words will resonate with anyone who works in a school where there are many students who are immigrating into the new world of school no matter the level. For many young people entering the “new” school causes them to feel like strangers in a strange land for quite some time. In all Holy Cross schools there are orientation days and programs to assist the new kids on the block to begin to feel more and more at home with each passing day. In Christian Education, Blessed Moreau writes a very detailed essay on “Students’ Relationships with Teachers” where he describes those students in our classrooms who are poor and oppressed: “spoiled, unintelligent, self-centered, opinionated, insolent, envious, without integrity, immature, lazy, or in poor health.” It is the responsibility of the teacher to invite these children to become fully enfranchised citizens of, let’s say, Algebra 1 or English 10. Because each classroom is a world unto itself, the teacher/leader, must see to it that all members of the class learn to treat all other members with respect so that all may cross the various thresholds that bespeak the education of both the mind and the heart. It is the teacher who demonstrates the love of the “stranger,” so that students can model Christ the Healer for each other. This is not an easy task for leaders of the many countries of the world, and it is not an easy job in a classroom with a population of 25 or 30. Yet it is the job description for all Catholic school teachers and those of us who teach in Holy Cross schools. Let no child feel alienated nor be allowed to alienate others. There are so many opportunities to educate hearts in our classrooms. May we have the competence to see and the courage to act so that strangers are strangers no longer because they have been welcomed with the love of the crucified Christ. Ave Crux Spes Unica!
Sister Mary (Mary Henry) Byrnes, CSC (1926-2019)
The holiness of Sister Mary Byrnes was practical, immediate and helpful throughout her life. Though she folded her hands in prayer, she also set her hands to do all that makes a house a home or an institution a community. Violet Mary Byrnes attended public schools in Utah, until her last two years of high school graduating from Saint Mary of the Wasatch in Salt Lake City where she was influenced by the Sisters of the Holy Cross and applied to the Congregation soon after graduation in 1946. She was known as Sister Henry during her years as a teacher in Catholic elementary schools throughout California, from 1952 to 1968. Sister Mary Byrnes was best known for her helping hand where she served in many ancillary roles. One of the Latin titles for the Blessed Mother in Catholic tradition has been Ancilla Domini, Handmaid of the Lord. Sister Mary’s litany of practical roles in the community included: sacristan, housekeeper, infirmarian, driver, seamstress and office assistant. She especially enjoyed her time ministering with sisters and lay staff of Madonna Manor, Salinas, California, where she was a compassionate companion to elders in the facility sponsored by the California Catholic Daughters of America from 1995 to 2003. Sister Mary was also a gardener. In California, she won ribbons at the state fairs in Monterey County and later in Ventura when she was missioned at Saint Catherine by the Sea from 2003 to 2005. There Sister raised African violets and roses and sold her sweet peas to a local florist. Due in part to Sister Mary, God’s beauty was found on earth and now in heaven. (Written by Sister Catherine Osimo, CSC)
Brother Leander (James) McLain, (1842-1911)
In 1863, when James McLain was 23 years old, he enlisted in the Army of the Cumberland for three years of service. He was attached to the 15th United States Infantry, where he took part in all of the engagements with General Sherman in the famous March to the Sea. After the war, James joined the Brothers of Holy Cross receiving the name Brother Leander. For 29 years he was a prefect and teacher at the University of Notre Dame. Between the years of 1868-89 he was an officer of the St. Stanislaus Pilopatrian Society and of the Mutual Baseball Club. He also taught at St. Pius School in Chicago for two years. By his fellow religious and his students, he was known as a humble man. When the Grand Army of the Republic (GRA) Post No. 568 of Indiana was erected at the University of Notre Dame, Brother Leander became one of the charter members assuming the office of Vice Commander. Of interest regarding this post is that all the members belonged to various religious congregations of men; eight of whom were Brothers of Holy Cross (Brothers Cosmas, Raphael, Eustachius, Benedict, Ignatius, John Chrysostom, Agatho and Leander). In 1905, Brother Leander put the customary American flag on the casket of Father Peter Cooney, C.S.C. a Civil War chaplain. During the same year, Brother Leander was made aide-de-camp of the Grand Army Department of Indiana and was honored with a position in the National Army. In 1906, he was appointed superior of what today is known as the Old College. All in all, Brother Leander was a “religious of genial disposition, possessing an intellect trained to meet and master the many problems which confronted an educator.” When he died in 1911, his funeral was one of the largest seen at the University of Notre Dame in many years. In a letter from his friend General Abercrombie to Father John W. Cavanaugh, C.S.C., President of the University of Notre Dame, he paid this tribute to Brother Leander: “His was a useful life, an everlasting illustration to the youth of Notre Dame of a patriotic American citizen.” (Taken from the writings of Brother Edward Sniatecki, May, 1983)
Father Daniel Eldred Hudson, C.S.C. (1849-1934)
“Daniel Hudson was born at Nahant, Mass. in 1849. His father was a Methodist, and his mother a Catholic. In later years, Father Hudson used to say that it was his experience with Protestantism in his youth more than anything else that made him a good Catholic all his life. At fifteen he was working in the Boston Publishing House of Lee and Shepherd, publishers of the great writers of the flowering of New England. The young man knew Longfellow who visited his home in Nahant, and Lowell, Holmes, Whittier and Emerson. He had Longfellow’s approval of his early desire to be a priest. When he told the great, be-bearded man of letters that he was going to be a priest and a foreign missionary, the old man nodded gravely, and said ‘I am very glad you have such an intention.’ The idea of the foreign missions [eventually] faded from his mind, since in 1870 he said goodbye to home and family, and gravely, bravely, set out to be a Trappist monk in New Mallory, Iowa. But he never got to Iowa [because] he met an old priest on the train, a Holy Cross Father from Notre Dame, an old Civil War chaplain named Father Peter Gillen. Father Gillian persuaded Daniel Hudson to stop off at Notre Dame, ‘just for a little visit.’ Father Hudson’s little visit lasted just sixty-four years. …The Trappists lost a good contemplative; but Notre Dame gained a saint, and the Catholic Press of the nineteenth century a great and tireless editor. [He was] ordained on June 4, 1875 and was appointed editor of the Ave Maria. That was his first religious “obedience”—and his last: he kept it until failing health compelled his retirement four years before his death. He was not a campus figure: in all his years at Notre Dame he was never in more than six of the forty-odd buildings. All this time he was too busy building the Ave Maria into the most widely read Catholic weekly in the English language. Father Hudson’s detached way of life, his utter rejection of the easy and pleasant, would have hardened many men, made them odd and eccentric. But through it all Father Hudson retained the delightful humor and polished, easy ways that delighted students who were lucky enough to run across him. [He] was not an obscure man, by any means. He died on January 12, 1934. Many distinguished people came to the funeral: and others, including the Pope, wrote letters to his superiors at Notre Dame consoling them upon their loss” (Sheedy, C.S.C., Rev. Charles. “The ‘Ave Maria’s’ Own Little Saint. Our Sunday Visitor. November 11, 1945.)