"The spirit of faith inspires and enlivens zeal, that is, the sacred fire that the divine master came to bring upon the earth. So if one has faith and the zeal inspired by faith, that person can never think without heartbreak about the vast amounts of sin in the world. . . . Such a person will be ready to go wherever obedience calls to save souls which are perishing and extend the rule of Jesus Christ on earth."
(Communal and Personal rule for the Congregation of Holy Cross).


In 1847 Father Moreau sent four sisters, eight brothers, and two priests to establish a mission in Montreal. This mission flourished. In 1851 Moreau agreed to send missionaries to East Bengal, and there Father Pierre Dufal became the first Holy Cross bishop. Also in the 1850s Father Moreau established three Holy Cross orphanages in Poland. Of this early period of the congregation's history, Father Moreau's biographer Gary MacEoin writes: "The story of the growth of Holy Cross was already an impressive one. Figures compiled [in 1856] showed that it numbered 72 priests, 322 brothers, and 254 sisters. Its 114 houses included 86 primary schools, 8 high schools, and 4 boarding schools." (MacEoin, pp. 128-129).

Missionary work remained a strain. Father Moreau had to turn down requests from India, Martinique, Haiti, Scotland, Greece, and Argentina. Holy Cross never had enough priests, brothers, or sisters, and there was certainly never enough money. In fact it often seemed as if Holy Cross would not survive, and Father Moreau himself came close to giving up. Eventually some missions had to close, but others started by Father Moreau continue to the present day -- notably those in the United States, Canada, and Bengal (Bangladesh). In the twenty-first century Holy Cross missionaries work in France, the United States, Canada, Italy, Bangladesh, India, Haiti, Mexico, Chile, Peru, Brazil, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. The missionary spirit of Father Moreau is alive today in the members of Holy Cross.



1799 Moreau born (Feb. 11).

1823 Moreau teaches philosophy at the minor seminary of Tessé. He meets Father Dujarié, founder and superior of the Brothers of St. Joseph.

1831 Father Dujarié chooses Moreau to help with the Brothers of St. Joseph.

1834 Moreau approves a memorandum by Brother André of the Brothers of St. Joseph proposing the establishment of an institute consisting of three branches: priests, brothers, and lay associates.

1835 Moreau becomes superior of the Brothers of St. Joseph. He convinces his bishop to accept his plan to add an organization of missionary priests to the society of brothers.

1839 Bishops from Algeria and Indiana ask Moreau for missionary help.

1840 Six Holy Cross missionaries begin work in Algeria. Moreau writes a circular letter describing his hope that the Auxiliary Priests of Le Mans and the Brothers of St. Joseph might join to form a religious congregation. Moreau and four other priests take vows. He breaks ground for the church of Notre Dame de Sainte-Croix in Le Mans.

1841 Seven Holy Cross missionaries depart for Indiana. The bishop of Montreal requests missionaries. Moreau starts an associated organization of sisters.

1842 Holy Cross missionaries found the University of Notre Dame.

1847 Two priests, eight brothers, and four sisters establish the Holy Cross mission in Montreal.

1849 Moreau elected Superior General of Holy Cross for life. Holy Cross takes over administration of an orphanage in Rome.

1851 Holy Cross missionaries begin to serve in Posin, Poland. Vatican asks Moreau if Holy Cross missionaries can take over missions in East Bengal.

1852 Holy Cross missionaries go to East Bengal. Bishop Pierre Dufal leads the mission for 15 years.

1856 Holy Cross missionaries take charge of an orphanage in Cracow, Poland.

1857 Rome recognizes the Congregation of Holy Cross. Moreau visits America.

1868 Holy Cross missionaries take charge of an orphanage in Lwow, Poland.

1873 Moreau dies (20 January).


University of Notre Dame