The namesake of the Moreau Center for the Arts is Father Basil Anthony Moreau, CSC, founder of the brothers, priests, and sisters of Holy Cross. Born on February 11, 1799 in Laigne-en-Belin near Le Mans, France, Father Moreau experienced the devastating consequences of the French Revolution.
Ordained a priest at 22, he taught and served as an assistant superior of the Major Seminary in Le Mans. Deeply committed to preaching and Christian education in France, he laid the foundations for the society of auxiliary priests.
In 1841, to respond more effectively to the mission, Father Moreau founded a group of women religious. Today, the women form three distinct congregations: Marianites of Holy Cross, Sisters of the Holy Cross, and Sisters of Holy Cross.
From the beginning, the primary role of the priests, brothers, and sisters was in education and their philosophy was, as it remains today, to promote the education of the whole person- spiritual, intellectual, artistic, physical, and social.
Father Moreau’s congregation flourished and expanded into other countries from their headquarters in France. A young Holy Cross Priest, Edward Sorin, was sent to the United States in 1840. With him came six brothers to help found the University of Notre Dame in northern Indiana. The sisters of the Holy Cross followed the priests and brothers to the United States a short time later.
Although Father Moreau resigned a superior general in 1866, he continued as active preaching and retreat ministry until his death on January 20, 1873.Father Moreau is buried at Church of Notre-Dame de Sainte-Croix in Le Mans, France and was originally built under his direction to serve as the Congregation’s spiritual home.
To serve with zeal “to make God known, loved, and served, and thus save souls” – that was the charge that Blessed Basil Moreau gave the Congregation of Holy Cross.Today, men and women religious of the Congregation of the Holy Cross
minister throughout the world in Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, Chile, France, Ghana, Haiti, India, Italy, Kenya, Mexico, Peru, Philippines, Tanzania, and the United States. They are engaged in a variety of ministries, fulfilling their commitment to continue the mission of Jesus in the spirit of Father Moreau.
On April 28, 2006, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI approved the promulgation of the miracle attributed to the intercession of Father Moreau. In September of 2007, the beatification
of the veritable founder of the Holy Cross family took place in diocese of Le Mans, France. Holy Cross pilgrims from around the world gathered the celebrate the life of this humble servant and to rededicate their ministry to the purpose of Holy Cross.
“We will always place education side by side with instruction; the mind will not be cultivated at the expense of the heart. While we prepare useful citizens for society, we shall likewise do our utmost to prepare citizens for heaven.”
-Rev. Basil Moreau, CSC, Circular Letter #36, April 15. 1849