Congregation of Holy Cross

Congregation of Holy Cross
Congregatio a Sancta Cruce
Abbreviation C.S.C.
Motto Ave crux spes unica (Latin)
Formation 1 March 1837 (1837-03-01)
Founder Blessed Basile Moreau
Type Clerical Religious Congregation (Institute of Consecrated Life)
Purpose To make God known, loved, and served, and thus save souls
Headquarters Via Framura, 85, 00168 Roma, Italia
Membership (2013)
1478 (of whom 741 are priests)
Superior General
Fr. Robert L. Epping, C.S.C.

The Congregation of Holy Cross or Congregatio a Sancta Cruce (C.S.C.) is a Catholic congregation of priests and brothers founded in 1837 by Blessed Father Basil Anthony-Marie Moreau, CSC, in Le Mans, France.

Father Moreau also founded the Marianites of Holy Cross, now divided into three independent congregations of sisters. The Congregations of women who trace their origins to Father Moreau are the Marianites of Holy Cross (Le Mans, France), the Sisters of the Holy Cross, (Notre Dame, Indiana), and the Sisters of Holy Cross, (Montreal, Canada).

Two Societies

Basile Antoine-Marie Moreau was born at Laigné-en-Belin, near Le Mans, France, on February 11, 1799 in the final months of the French Revolution. Moreau was raised in a time when the Catholic Church was facing intense pressure and was being stripped of land, resources, and rights. When Moreau decided to enter the priesthood, he was forced to undergo his seminary training in secret for fear that the French government would arrest him. He completed his studies and was ordained for the Diocese of Le Mans in 1821. The French government continued to work for the removal of the Church from the educational system, which left many Catholics without a place to be educated or catechized. It was out of this environment that Fr. Moreau and a fellow priest came forward to form what is now the Congregation of Holy Cross.

On July 15, 1820 a priest of the Diocese of Le Mans, Fr. Jacques-Francois Dujarié, brought together a group of zealous men to serve the educational needs of the people in the French countryside.[1] Fr. Dujarié named this group the Brothers of St. Joseph, but at the time none of the men were vowed religious and the group had no formal recognition from the diocesan bishop. By 1835 this group was well established in the diocese, but Fr. Dujarié was slowing down and they were in need of a new leader. That same year Fr. Moreau had formed a similar group, which he called Auxiliary Priests, to serve the educational and evangelization needs of the Diocese of Le Mans. Fr. Dujarié and Fr. Moreau had met previously and discussed their views on the future of the Church in France and so Fr. Dujarié knew that Fr. Moreau was just the man he was looking for. With the consent of the bishop, Moreau was given control of the Brothers of St. Joseph on August 31, 1835. He was now the head of two organizations, the Auxiliary Priests and the Brothers of St. Joseph.

The Association of Holy Cross

In 1837, Fr. Moreau made the decision to combine his two communities into one society so that the priests and brothers could share resources and ministries in common.[1] On March 1, 1837 the priests and brothers gathered in the Sainte-Croix district of Le Mans to sign the Fundamental Act of Union which legally joined them into one association. This new group took on the name of where they met and became the Association of Holy Cross. Initially Holy Cross was a diocesan group and so they primarily served in whatever capacity the bishop asked of them. In 1840 this changed when Fr. Moreau received a request to send a delegation from his society to Algeria with the purpose of establishing schools and a seminary. It was at this point that Fr. Moreau shifted the focus of Holy Cross and after the first missionaries left in April 1840 the association took on the identity of a religious institute. On August 15, 1840, Fr. Moreau and four others became the first professed religious in the Association of Holy Cross. As part of his plan to form this religious institute, Fr. Moreau also brought together the first group of women who would become the Marianites of Holy Cross.

Following the first mission to Algeria in 1840, Fr. Moreau began to spread his association to the four corners of the world.[1] In 1841 he sent a group to the United States, establishing the first Holy Cross institution in North America at Notre Dame, Indiana. The institute expanded further by establishing missions in Canada in 1847 and in East Bengal in 1852.

This association of priests, brothers, and sisters, would continue in roughly the same form until May 13, 1857 when Pope Pius IX approved the first constitutions of the priests and brothers. From that point on the Association officially became the Congregation of Holy Cross. Doubting the propriety of a mixed congregation of men and women, Rome separated the women into an independent community at that time. Fr. Moreau, in his role as their founder, continued to work for Rome's approval of the sisters' constitution. In 1865, Rome approved the constitutions of the Marianites of Holy Cross, granting them the status of an Apostolic congregation.

Holy Cross and The Holy Family

St. Joseph's Oratory in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Fr. Moreau saw a visible image of the Holy Family in this Congregation of Holy Cross which he had conceived as an association of religious men and women working together on equal footing for the building of the reign of God. He intended that this Congregation, composed at its origins of three distinct Societies, namely, Sisters, Priests, and Brothers, be an apostolic institute. Calling on the spiritual aid of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, Moreau gave to each of the three groups a patron: he consecrated the priests to the Sacred Heart of Jesus; he consecrated the brothers to the pure heart of St. Joseph; and he consecrated the sisters to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. He also established Mary, under her title of Our Lady of Sorrows, as special patroness for all of Holy Cross, whose members in their several congregations continue to cherish these devotions. As Father Moreau stated in one of his letters, he envisioned that: “Holy Cross will grow like a mighty tree and constantly shoot forth new limbs and new branches which will be nourished by the same sap and endowed with the same life.”

Superiors General

  1. Fr. Basil Moreau, CSC (1837–1866)
  2. Most Rev. Pierre Dufal, CSC (1866–1868)
  3. Fr. Edward Sorin, CSC (1868–1893)
  4. Fr. Gilbert Francais, CSC (1893-1926?)
  5. Fr. James Wesley Donahue, CSC (1926–1938)
  6. Fr. Albert Cousineau, CSC (1938–1950)
  7. Fr. Christopher O'Toole, CSC (1950–1962)
  8. Fr. Germain-Marie Lalande, CSC (1962–1974)
  9. Fr. Tom Barrosse, CSC (1974–1986)
  10. Fr. Claude Grou, CSC (1986–1998)
  11. Fr. Hugh Cleary, CSC (1998–2010)
  12. Fr. Richard Warner, CSC (2010–2016)
  13. Fr. Robert Epping, CSC (2016-present)

Provinces, Districts, and Vicariates

Notable members

Saints & Blesseds

Presidents of Notre Dame

Members of the Hierarchy



Holy Cross Priests and Brothers can be found across the globe, including these countries (date of first appearance in parentheses):

Foreign Missions

The Mission of Holy Cross in Bangladesh

The first group of Holy Cross missionaries to reach India left England January 17, 1853. It was composed of three brothers, three sisters, one priest and one seminarian. (Two priests dropped out due to severe illness when the first attempt to sail in November 1852 failed due to storms.) The group arrived in Calcutta in May 1853. Fr. Verite took the sisters to Dhaka, while the brothers and seminarian went to Noakhali. Fr. Verite soon joined them as pastor of Noakhali, which included Agartala and Sylhet in its territory. Chittagong became the headquarters of Holy Cross in December 1853.

The East Bengal mission was called at the time, “unquestionably the most destitute in East Asia and perhaps in any other part of the world.” Because it was such a difficult and dangerous place to live and work, no other religious congregation showed any interest in it. Though the mission was named East Bengal, the Church jurisdiction and the political territory or civil jurisdiction called East Bengal were quite different from each other. The Province of East Bengal was first created in 1905. The Church territory was officially called the Vicariate of East Bengal, set up in 1845 by the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith at the Vatican. Its first superior was Bishop Thomas Olliffe, an Irish Jesuit. The Vicariate of East Bengal embraced the present-day Archdiocese of Dhaka, Diocese of Mymensingh, and Diocese of Chittagong, as well as a large part of Assam, the Arakan district (former name of the Rakhine State of western Burma, and the Diocese of Agartala in eastern India. It was a huge area, but when Holy Cross arrived in 1853, there were only three priests working there - a Portuguese Augustinian and two young Irish diocesan priests, both of whom were dead of disease by 1854. There were about 13,000 Catholics in the area. In Dhaka, there was no church or chapel at all under the jurisdiction of Rome.[4]

The Mission of Holy Cross in Chile

The District of Chile is the longest-running mission still overseen by the United States Province. Three Holy Cross religious arrived in Santiago, Chile, on March 1, 1943, at the invitation of Cardinal José María Caro, Archbishop of Santiago (Chile), to administer Saint George's College. Fathers William Havey, Alfred Send, and Joseph Dougherty believed they were going to do university work. Little did they know that “college” in this context meant a school of first through 12th graders.

Today, Saint George’s College serves 2,650 students. Its history is rich and is closely tied with the history of Chile, including the 1970s when the school was taken over by the military government and Holy Cross was ousted. The Congregation returned to the school in 1986. Strong faith formation and service have been a hallmark of Saint George’s. Over the decades, the college has formed many influential leaders in Chilean society. Also Holy Cross’ first Chilean vocation, Fr. Jorge Canepa, was a 1946 graduate of the school.

Additionally, the District administers Colegio Nuestra Señora de Andacollo, located in the older sector of Central Santiago. The Congregation took responsibility for the school in the 1970s, after its expulsion from Saint George’s. The student body, numbering 1,100, is made up primarily of children from working-class families. With improvements to the physical plant and the strong Holy Cross commitment, the school has been able to reach new heights academically.

From the beginning, the mission of Holy Cross in Chile also included parish ministry and social service. Within three years of arriving, the Congregation had begun both its ministry at San Roque, a parish in the sector of Penalolen in Santiago, as well as its outreach to abandoned children in Santiago and later in Talagante. Today, the District administers two parishes in addition to San Roque: Nuestra Señora de Andacollo, in the same area as the school; and Nuestra Señora de la Merced, in Calle Larga, in the Diocese of San Felipe. The parishes are known for their youth ministry and social justice work. Then through Fundamor and Fundación Moreau, the District continues its work with abandoned children. Currently there are approximately 50 children in residence, ages 4 to 18. There is also a new prevention program ministering to 100 children that has been recognized as the first of its kind in Chile.[5]

The Mission of Holy Cross in Uganda

In November 1958, four Holy Cross priests arrived in Entebbe, Uganda to begin their ministry. The dioceses of Toro and Bunyoro were too large for the bishop to handle. He granted Holy Cross permission to minister to the people of Fort Portal and Butiti. Soon thereafter Holy Cross began administrating St. Leo's College, a high school in Kyegobe, Fort Portal diocese. Near Christmas of 1960, Holy Cross began its first parish at Bukwali. Around the end of February 1961, Cardinal Agaginian, the Armenian Patriarch at the time, told Fr. Christopher O'Toole, CSC, the superior general of Holy Cross, that missionary Vincent J. McCauley was to be made Bishop of Fort Portal. In 1967, a house, and later novitiate (in 1984), was built on the shores of Lake Saaka in Fort Portal. The Congregation struggled through the Idi Amin years, deciding at one point to leave the Diocese of Fort Portal. This proposal was later abandoned. Bishop McCauley died on November 1, 1982.

By 1962, the institute had begun accepting Ugandan religious aspirants to the community. Along with other religious institutes, they began a seminary in Kenya called Tangaza in 1986. By 1989, Holy Cross and a consortium of religious congregations and societies established the Queen of Apostles Philosophy Centre in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Jinja ("PCJ") due largely to the political crises between Kenya and Uganda. It was then difficult for Ugandans to study at Tangaza. PCJ was to be a seminary for philosophical and religious studies for these (mostly Ugandan) postulants.

On August 17, 1991 Holy Cross ordained its first Ugandan priest, Fr. Fulgens Katende. Five Holy Cross Brother's and one priest died in the genocide of 1994. In Bugembe and Wanyange, two villages of the Jinja Diocese, a primary school and secondary were opened: Holy Cross Primary and Holy Cross Lakeview Secondary respectively. In 1998, Lakeview made world news when United States President Bill Clinton landed in a helicopter on the school's compound for discussions with Ugandan President Museveni. A third parish opened in 1994 at Kyrausozi.

In the new millennium the first [East] African district superior of Holy Cross was named in 2003. This was a step towards congregational and district maturity as the past nine superiors had been Americans.

The Mission of Holy Cross in Peru

The mission of Holy Cross in Peru began with an exhortation of Pope John XXIII to religious orders to send missionaries to Latin America, and Holy Cross arrived in the north of Peru in Cartavio in September 1963. The presence soon included Chimbote in the early 1960s and expanded for a time to Puno and Tacna, on the border of Bolivia and Chile, and finally came to develop an organized presence and pastoral strategy in the Diocese of Choisica. The parish, El Señor de la Esperanza, is about the size of a small diocese in the U.S. Approximately 250,000 Catholics live in a parish that has 19 chapels. In 1982, within the boundaries of Lord of Hope Parish in Canto Grande, the Congregation established “Yancana Huasy” (literally “House of Work” in the language of the Incas). Yancana Huasy attends to the needs of children who live with physical and mental challenges, including Downs’ Syndrome, and their families.[6]

The Mission of Holy Cross in Mexico

Initially the members of the Congregation of Holy Cross were sent to Mexico from Texas. In 1972, Fr. Frederick Schmidt, CSC, was sent to Mexico for a "sabbatical" by Fr. Christopher O'Toole, CSC, the Provincial of the Southern Province at the time. In 1973 Fr. Fred assumed the pastoral responsibility for a large parish in Ahuacatlan, San Luis Potosí, Nuestro Padre Jesús. He served as pastor for 25 years. In 1998 when Fr. Francisco Garcia, a priest from the Diocese of Ciudad Valles, was appointed pastor, Fr. Fred became the pastor emeritus. When Fr. Schmidt died in 2003, he was buried at the parish in the crypt of the convent church that he helped build. With his death, Holy Cross withdrew from this parish, although one of its members has become a Holy Cross priest. The relationship with the parish and pastor continues to be one of friendship and Holy Cross offers occasional assistance.

In 1987, the Southern Province assumed the responsibility for the pastoral care of Santo Tomas Moro parish in the Archdiocese of Monterrey, Nuevo León. The parish grew dramatically and eventually gave birth to a new parish, Nuestra Madre Santisima de La Luz. Holy Cross opted to shift from Santo Tomas Moro to this new parish with greater needs. Holy Cross continues to serve this community.

In 1993 the Southern Province founded a program of vocation promotion and initial formation for young Mexican men who believe they are called to religious life and priesthood in Holy Cross. The Southern Province established a program for postulants and a program for professed seminarians. The novitiate for the formation program is in Peru.

In 1999, Holy Cross Family Ministries founded Family Rosary in México. Their offices and meeting rooms are located in an Archdiocesan pastoral center in San Francisco Javier parish, close to La Luz parish in the Archdiocese of Monterrey. Their offices serve as a "hub" for the growing Holy Cross apostolate of fostering family prayer, especially the rosary, as well as devotion to Mary throughout Mexico.

In 2000, the local Holy Cross community in Monterrey established an immersion program at La Luz parish. This program provides an intercultural experience of life and ministry with and for the poor. It is offered principally to students from Holy Cross universities, high schools, and parishes in the United States. One group of Chilean laywomen also participated. The program has been temporarily suspended due to the wave of violence in Mexico.

In 2010, Fr. Marín Hernández, CSC, and Fr. Paulino Antonio, CSC, the first two Mexicans to be ordained as Holy Cross priests, were assigned to Parroquia San José in Tamán, San Luis Potosí. The Bishop of the Diocese of Ciudad Valles offered this parish to Holy Cross in part because of the indigenous community's need for pastoral care and evangelization. Frs. Hernández and Antonio speak Nahuatl, the language of the people, and Fr. Antonio comes from this indigenous group.

In 2011 the Holy Cross community in Mexico became a part of the newly formed U.S. Province of Priests and Brothers.[7]

Holy Cross institutions

Higher education

Waldschmidt Hall, formerly West Hall, at the University of Portland.

Secondary Schools











United States

Primary Schools


United States














United States



Books and Publications

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