The History of the Congregation of Holy Cross
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298 pages

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In 1837, Basile Moreau, C.S.C., founded the Congregation of Holy Cross (C.S.C.), a community of Catholic priests and brothers, to minister to and educate the people of France devastated by the French Revolution. During the centuries that followed, the Congregation expanded its mission around the globe to educate and evangelize, including the establishment in 1842 of the Congregation’s first educational institution in America—the University of Notre Dame. This sweeping book, written by the skilled historian and archivist James T. Connelly, C.S.C., offers the first complete history of the Congregation, covering nearly two centuries from 1820 to 2018.

Throughout this volume, Connelly focuses on the ministry of the Congregation rather than on its ministers, although some important individuals are discussed, including Jacques-François Dujarié; Sr. Mary of the Seven Dolors, M.S.C.; André Bessette, C.S.C.; and Edward Sorin, C.S.C. Within a few short years of founding the Congregation, Moreau sent the priests, brothers, and sisters from France to Algeria, the United States, Canada, Italy, and East Bengal. Connelly chronicles in great detail the suppression of all religious orders in France in 1903 and demonstrates how the Congregation shifted its subsequent expansion efforts to North America. Numerous educational institutions, parishes, and other ministries were founded in the United States and Canada during these decades. In 1943, Holy Cross again extended its work to South America. With the most recent establishment of a religious presence in the Philippines in 2008, Holy Cross today serves in sixteen different countries on five continents. The book describes the beatification of Basil Moreau, C.S.C, on September 15, 2007, and the canonization of André Bessette, C.S.C. on October 17, 2010. The book will interest C.S.C. members and historians of Catholic history. Anyone who wants to learn about the origins of the University of Notre Dame will want to read this definitive history of the Congregation.



Publié par
Date de parution 15 décembre 2020
Nombre de lectures 1
EAN13 9780268108878
Langue English

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Univerity of Notre Dame Press
Notre Dame, Indiana
Copyright © 2020 by the University of Notre Dame
Published by the University of Notre Dame Press
Notre Dame, Indiana 46556
All Rights Reserved
Published in the United States of America
Library of Congress Control Number: 2020946989
ISBN: 978-0-268-10885-4 (Hardback)
ISBN: 978-0-268-10888-5 (WebPDF)
ISBN: 978-0-268-10887-8 (Epub)
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who started this project.
Author’s Preface
List of Superiors General
List of Maps
CHAPTER 1. In the Beginning There Were Two: France, 1820–37
CHAPTER 2. The Congregation from Sainte-Croix, 1837–57
CHAPTER 3. The Indispensable Man: United States, 1841–61
CHAPTER 4. Au Canada: Canada, 1847–72
CHAPTER 5. A Matter of Survival: Bengal, 1852–1910
CHAPTER 6. What Man Has Put Asunder: The Holy Cross Sisters, 1856–89
CHAPTER 7. A Time of Trial: France, 1857–68
CHAPTER 8. Death and Resurrection: France, 1868–1926

CHAPTER 9. Civil War and the Immigrant Church: United States, 1861–1906
CHAPTER 10. Into the Twentieth Century: Canada, 1872–1917
CHAPTER 11. The Legacy of Gilbert Français, 1893–1926
CHAPTER 12. An Era of Expansion and Restructuring, 1926–50
CHAPTER 13. The Era of Vatican II, 1950–68
CHAPTER 14. Challenges, Changes, and New Directions, 1968–98
Epilogue, 1998–2018
Once there was a priest on his way to a wake for a man whom everyone knew had been a scoundrel. The deceased had abused his children, beaten his wife, cheated his business partners and customers, and was the scourge of his neighborhood. The priest was trying to think of something positive to say about the man but could not. When it came time for him to speak, the priest stood up and said, “There’s an old Latin adage, De mortuis nihil nisi bonum (Say only good things of the dead). We all knew old Bill here, so let’s share the good things we remember about him, only the good things.” With that, the priest sat down. There was a long, long silence. Finally, an old man in the back of the room stood up and said, “His father was worse than he was.”
I would like to be able to say of this work that previous attempts at a history of the Congregation of Holy Cross are worse than mine, but, to the best of my knowledge, there are no previous general histories of the Congregation. More than eleven biographies of Father Moreau have been published as well as biographies of Father Dujarié, Sister Marie-des-Sept-Douleurs, Brother André, Father Sorin, and various other Holy Cross personalities, not to mention the histories of various Holy Cross institutions. But to the best of my knowledge, there is no general history of the Congregation.
In 1982 Father Thomas Barrosse, the superior general at the time, commissioned me to research and write a “popular” history of Holy Cross. He thought it could be easily done by synthesizing the various publications that already existed. Once I began to examine the archival evidence, I realized that it would not be so readily accomplished. My great mistake at the beginning was not to have asked for a sabbatical of two or three years in which to do the work and a budget for travel and research. I have used whatever time I could find in the midst of my other duties to do the research and writing. I am grateful to Father Barrosse’s successors as superior general, Fathers Claude Grou, C.S.C., Hugh Cleary, C.S.C., and Richard Warner, C.S.C., for encouraging me to persevere and to Father Thomas O’Hara, C.S.C., my provincial, for granting me a two-year sabbatical to bring this work to a conclusion.

My goal has been to produce a readable, one-volume history. To do this, I had to make choices as to which events, ministries, and figures to treat. One of the first and most significant choices that I had to make was to restrict my account from 1857 onward to the Congregation of Holy Cross as it was approved by Rome: the priests and brothers as the Congregation with the Marianite Sisters of Holy Cross as a separate canonical community. As the sisters eventually divided into three autonomous congregations, to include all four communities in my account would have been all the more difficult, if not impossible.
I have chosen to end my history in 1998. There was a general chapter in that year and the election of a new superior general, Father Hugh Cleary, events that usually lead to new developments and new directions. Moreover, an account of the last twenty years might more aptly be described as journalism rather than history.
My focus has been on the ministry of the Congregation of Holy Cross rather than on its ministers, although some of these figures are mentioned in passing. Since the history of the Congregation and the institutions and ministries with which it has been affiliated are intricately linked, the rise, the fall, and the character of these associated bodies are often noted. I realize that not everyone will agree with my choices, but I have noted the sources on which I have relied in hopes that my choices as well as my interpretations will be seen as reasonable. I have made use of secondary sources when I deemed them reliable.
I like to think of my attempt at a short history as comparable to the Gospel according to Mark. It was the first of the canonical gospels to be written, and it served as an outline of the life and ministry of Jesus. However, it said little or nothing about many aspects of the story and the later evangelists filled in missing parts, for example, the infancy narratives or the details of the crucifixion and the resurrection appearances, all without seriously contradicting Mark’s basic structure. I have attempted to trace the outline of the history of the brothers and priests of Holy Cross, touching lightly on many aspects and treating no subject in the depth that it may deserve. The notes to my sources will serve the person who wants to offer a more detailed account, which I hope will not seriously contradict mine.
To confrères who might object to the production of a history rather than serious studies of the spirituality of our founder as we seek to chart our future, I offer the admonition of the eighth-century historian, St. Bede the Venerable. He believed that it was not only in scripture but in the history of his own people and in the stories of holy lives that the handwriting of God could be discerned (see, e.g., Bede’s History of the English Church and People ).
Over the years I have been aided in my research by more people than I can ever hope to acknowledge and thank, but gratitude obliges me to mention some who have been especially helpful. Father Jacques Grisé, C.S.C., former general archivist for the Congregation of Holy Cross, pointed me to files and sources that enlightened me beyond my expectations. I owe a debt to the archivists of the Congregation, especially Jacqueline Dougherty, Brother Andrew Corsini Fowler, Fathers William Blum, C.S.C., William Simmons, C.S.C., and Christopher Kuhn, C.S.C. of the United States Province of Priests and Brothers; Brothers John Kuhn, C.S.C., and Lawrence Stewart, C.S.C., of the Midwest Province; Father Roger Bessette, C.S.C., Marie Josée Vadnais, and Hélène Fortier of the Canadian Priests’ Archives; Brother Marcel Lafortune, C.S.C., of the Canadian Brothers’ Archives; Father Jean Proust, C.S.C., of the Congregation’s archives in France. W. Kevin Cawley of the University of Notre Dame Archives has always served me well whenever I had occasion to call on him as have the librarians at the University of Notre Dame and the University of Portland. In the archives of the Holy Cross sisters’ communities, Sisters Campion Kuhn, C.S.C., Kathryn Callahan, C.S.C., and Bernice Hollenhorst, C.S.C., in Indiana; Sisters Madeleine Sophie Hebert, M.S.C., and Barbara Dupuis, M.S.C., in Louisiana; Thelma Reynolds, M.S.C., in France; and Sister Graziella Lalande, C.S.C., in Canada have rendered invaluable service and advice over the years. The University of Portland provided a Butine travel grant in 1994 that made a sojourn in Montreal possible, and Father Bernard Lafrenière, C.S.C., gave me a tour of Holy Cross sites in Montreal and environs and tutored me in the history of the Congregation in Quebec, which helped me to understand the accomplishments of Holy Cross in Canada. The University of Portland also granted me a sabbatical from teaching from 2003 to 2004 that enabled me to make a great leap forward in my research and writing.
More recently, I have had the assistance of a group of readers for the various chapters whose critiques, corrections, and advice have been most helpful in determining the final shape of my project: Dr. Lauretta Frederking, Fathers Daniel Deveau, C.S.C., Richard Gribble, C.S.C., Kevin Grove, C.S.C., Francis Quinlivan, C.S.C., and Brother George Klawitter, C.S.C. While many of their suggestions have been incorporated, final responsibility for the text and notes is mine. All translations are mine unless otherwise noted. Jane Pitz created the maps compiled for this volume. At the University of Notre Dame Press, Mary Katherine Lehman, my copyeditor, corrected my many mistakes, clarified my narrative, and generally improved the book, and Wendy McMillin designed the cover. As always, I am indebted to my mentors in the research and writing of religious history: Thomas T. McAvoy, C.S.C., Philip Gleason, and Martin Marty.
What became the Congregation of Holy Cross began two hundred years ago, in 1820, with the organization of a community of pious laymen to establish and teach primary schools in the diocese of Le Mans, France. The founder was Father Jacques Dujarié, the parish priest in the village of Ruillé-sur-Loir, who began to gather the Brothers of St. Joseph, as they were called, at the request of his bishop. Unlike the founders of many religious communities, Dujarié did not undertake to found a religious community because of a spiritual experience or a special revelation. He had already started a religious community of women, the Sisters of Providence of Ruillé, and his success with them encouraged his bishop to think that he could establish a community of men.
The revolutionary government had abolished all religious orders and congregations in France by a law of February 1790, depriving them of legal standing and declaring that religious vows were no longer binding. Napoleon’s 1801 Concordat with the Vatican gave civil standing to the Catholic Church and a decree of 1808 recognized only one religious community, Jean-Baptiste de la Salle’s Christian Brothers. Men and women could choose to live in common but not corporately have legal standing or own property. Over sixty religious associations existed in France by the time of the Restoration in 1815 when the Bourbon monarchy resumed power. These associations attended to the care of the sick, the poor, and the elderly and to the education of children. Dujarié’s biographer notes that at least four religious communities of men whose ministry was education were founded in France in the five years before the inception of the Brothers of St. Joseph in 1820. 1
In the early years, the brothers made one-year promises of obedience to Dujarié, which they renewed annually. They underwent a period of formation of several months to a year living with the founder in his rectory and once a year gathered for a community retreat. Dujarié did not compose a rule of life for his brothers but borrowed the rule of another French community. The Brothers of St. Joseph grew quickly to over one hundred members but then sharply declined in numbers in the 1830s when religious persecution by French revolutionary authorities threatened to resume. In 1835, in failing health, Dujarié, with the consent of his bishop, turned over the leadership of the brothers to a younger priest of the Le Mans diocese, Basile Moreau. Moreau joined the brothers to a band of priests that he had founded to preach parish missions and moved the center of the community from the village of Ruillé to the city of Le Mans where Moreau was on the faculty of the diocesan seminary. There a collège (secondary school), was begun in the neighborhood of Sainte-Croix (Holy Cross), and the community eventually became known as the Congregatio a Sancta Cruce (literally “Congregation of/from Holy Cross”). In 1841 the community became tripartite when a women’s division, the Marianites of Holy Cross, was added. Moreau sought and received papal approval for the men as the Congregation of Holy Cross in 1857, but the Vatican insisted on the women being a separate congregation.
Like Dujarié before him, Moreau did not testify to a spiritual experience that led him to link the brothers and priests together. Rather, it was a pragmatic solution to the situation at hand. Originally intended to help revive the Church in France after the devastation caused by the French Revolution and its aftermath, the Congregation responded to appeals of bishops from outside of France for help, not because of a vision on Moreau’s part for the future of the community. Foundations were made in Algeria, North Africa, in 1840; in the United States in 1841; in Canada in 1847; in Rome in 1850; and in Bengal, India, in 1853. When legal persecution decimated the membership of the community in France in 1903, the North American foundations ended up with more than 90 percent of the Congregation’s members by 1962.
Using their abundant personnel, the United States provinces established ministries in Chile and Peru in South America and in Ghana and Uganda in Africa in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, while the Canadian provinces undertook work in Haiti and Brazil in these same decades. After India became independent in 1947, Canadian missionaries from what is now Bangladesh opened houses in that country in 1959. American priests from Texas took up residence and work in Mexico in the 1980s. By the end of the twentieth century, local vocations were being recruited, trained, and professed from all these areas. From a small religious community in France, the Congregation of Holy Cross grew steadily throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries to over three thousand members by the mid-1960s.
In the nineteenth and the first half of the twentieth century, education was the principal ministry of the Congregation. However, it began to staff parishes when it started working in Bengal, to meet the needs of particular ethnic groups in the latter decades of the nineteenth century in the United States, and in the twentieth century in Canada and Africa. Other ministries were undertaken in the twentieth century, and the Oratory of St. Joseph in Montreal, Canada, grew out of the healing ministry of Brother André Bessette. The University of Notre Dame in the United States became one of the major Catholic universities in the world by the latter decades of the twentieth century.

In the decades after Vatican II, the Congregation saw a steady decline in membership as many men in North America withdrew from the order and as, in the years just after Vatican II, the number of new recruits fell dramatically, especially in the face of cultural changes in Canada and the United States. By 2000, membership was only about half of what it had been in 1962. However, by then, local vocations were being recruited in Africa, India, Bangladesh, and Haiti that were replacing the diminished ranks in North America in the twenty-first century. The Constitutions of Holy Cross were revised in 1986 to give the Congregation a more collegial structure of government. In 1992 a process of restructuring began that continued in the twenty-first century. It reduced the number of jurisdictions in North America while increasing those in Asia and Africa as the community grew in numbers in those areas.
In 2018 the Congregation of Holy Cross was active in thirteen countries on five continents. It was organized in ten provinces and four vicariates and its membership had stabilized and was beginning to grow again. It was a far different entity than it had been in 1820 or 1837 and in both its size and its ministries.
chapter. An assembly of the members of a religious community, either of a local house or of a larger jurisdiction, to inform and/or legislate for the whole. A general chapter, or provincial chapter, served as a guiding council for the jurisdiction by bringing together representatives from each local community in the Congregation or in a province to advise and legislate for the conduct of the whole. Those participating in a chapter are capitulants. Nonlegislative meetings of all the members of a local community are a local chapter. An extraordinary general chapter may be convoked by appropriate authority to deal with special issues in between scheduled meetings of the general chapter.
coadjutor bishop with right of succession. A bishop who is appointed to assist the bishop of a diocese and who will succeed the diocesan bishop when he dies or retires.
college/collège/colegio. In the United States, charters for educational institutions were liberally granted by legislative bodies in the nineteenth century. With the advent of accrediting associations, the term “college” came to refer to a postsecondary school that granted a baccalaureate after a prescribed period of study, usually four years. In France and Canada, a collège by law was a secondary school for grades nine through twelve that was affiliated with a university from which students could obtain a baccalaureate if they passed a certification exam at the end of the twelfth year. A collège classique offered a curriculum based on the teaching of humanities. Other collèges offered curricula based on commerce, science, or agriculture. A colegio in Chile or Brazil was an educational institution that included students from grade one through grade twelve. In Bangladesh, grades six through ten were the secondary school years. Thereafter, a qualified student might spend grades eleven and twelve in an intermediate school, a college , before going to a university.

council. All religious superiors in the Congregation of Holy Cross are assisted by a council of several members that offers advice and, in specified instances, for example, expenditures of money, consent to the superior’s administration.
grand séminaire, or major seminary, is a school of theological studies for men preparing for ordination as priests. A minor seminary is a formation program for men too young to enter a novitiate.
novitiate. Men and women preparing to make vows in a religious community undergo a period of prayerful discernment and instruction under the direction of a senior member of the community. During this period, they are novices and they live in common in a novitiate. Men who are too young to enter the novitiate are in a formation program called a juvenate or juniorate .
religious. A generic name for men and women under vows in a canonical religious community.
ABBREVIATIONS ACP Archives of the Canadian Province of Priests and Brothers of Holy Cross, Montreal. AMP Archives of the Midwest Province, Brothers of Holy Cross, Notre Dame, IN. AMSC Archives of the Marianite Sisters of Holy Cross, New Orleans, LA. ASHC Archives of the Sisters of the Holy Cross, Saint Mary’s, Notre Dame, IN. AUSP Archives of the United States Province, Priests and Brothers of Holy Cross, Notre Dame, IN. Cattas Étienne Catta and Tony Catta, Basil Anthony Mary Moreau , trans. Edward Heston, C.S.C., 2 vols. (Milwaukee, WI: Bruce Publishing Co., 1955). CHCHC Conference on the History of the Congregations of Holy Cross. A series of annual conferences begun in 1982 and conducted under the auspices of the Holy Cross History Association. Copies of most of the papers presented at these conferences are available on the association’s website, . They also may be obtained from the Archives of the Sisters of the Holy Cross, Bertrand Hall, St. Mary’s College, Notre Dame, IN. In the source notes they are cited as CHCHC preceded by conference year (e.g., 1988 CHCHC). Readers will find useful the association’s newsletter, Holy Cross History. CL Circular Letters issued as the occasion demanded to the whole Congregation by superiors general or to a province by the superior (provincial) of the province. CSCG Congregation of Holy Cross Generalate, University of Notre Dame Archives, Notre Dame, IN. Matricule La Matricule générale de la Congrégation de Sainte-Croix, 1820–1937 , ed. and updated by Brother Bernard Gervais, C.S.C. (1944), Archives of the United States Province, Priests of Holy Cross, Notre Dame, IN; Archives of the Midwest Province, Brothers of Holy Cross, Notre Dame, IN.
LIST OF SUPERIORS GENERAL Rev. Basile A. M. Moreau 1837–66 Bishop Pierre Dufal 1866–68 Rev. Edward Sorin 1868–93 Rev. Gilbert Français 1893–1926 Rev. James W. Donahue 1926–38 Rev. Albert F. Cousineau 1938–50 Rev. Christopher J. O’Toole 1950–62 Rev. Germain-Marie Lalande 1962–74 Rev. Thomas O. Barrosse 1974–86 Rev. Claude Grou 1986–98 Rev. Hugh W. Cleary 1998–2010 Rev. Richard V. Warner 2010–16 Rev. Robert L. Epping 2016–
Figure 4.1. Holy Cross Sites, Montreal and Environs
Figure 4.2. Holy Cross Sites in the Canadian Maritime Provinces
Figure 5.1. East Bengal/Bangladesh
Figure 14.1. Holy Cross Sites in Quebec, 1847–1998
Figure. 14.2. Holy Cross Sites in the United States, 1842–1998
France, 1820–37
The more radical phases of the French Revolution devastated the Catholic Church at the end of the eighteenth and beginning of the nineteenth century in France. Many bishops and priests were imprisoned, religious orders were declared dissolved, and monasteries and convents were confiscated, their inhabitants turned out on the street. Religious institutions that had been supported by the Church collapsed and were not replaced by the revolutionary governments.
Notably, the parochial school, sustained by the local parish, was hit hard by the Revolution, especially in the villages of France. In 1789, in the western part of the diocese of Le Mans, for instance, the 274 communes that later constituted the department of La Mayenne, had been served by 321 parochial schools, 180 for boys and 141 for girls. This extensive network of elementary schools was destroyed. The law of April 17, 1791, which required both parish priests and schoolmasters to take an oath of loyalty to the new regime, had thrown the Church and the institutions that it supported into disarray. Those who could not in conscience swear the oath either fled the country or went into hiding. The laws of August 4 and 8, 1792, dissolved the religious congregations that had provided many of the schools’ teachers. An 1801 report on public instruction noted that “public education is practically a nonentity everywhere; the generation which is now reaching its twentieth year is irrevocably doomed to ignorance. . . . No primary schools are found anywhere. Thus it is that the great bulk of the population is left without instruction.” Nowhere was this assessment more true than in the rural areas. 1
At a clergy retreat in the diocese of Le Mans held in the summer of 1818, the first such retreat since the French Revolution, the diocesan priests voiced much concern over the widespread ignorance among the children in their parishes. One solution that commended itself to Bishop de Pidoll and the Le Mans clergy was the organization of a group of pious young men to serve as schoolmasters in the parishes of the diocese. The model that they had in mind was that of the Christian Brothers founded by Jean-Baptiste de la Salle and given official recognition by the French government in 1808. The Christian Brothers were being imitated in several parts of France. Only the previous year, in Brittany, just to the west of Le Mans, two priests, Jean-Marie de la Mennais and Gabriel Deshayes, had organized congregations of teaching brothers, which united in 1819 as the Brothers of Christian Instruction. The Rule of the Christian Brothers specified that each foundation should have at least three brothers. Since most of the village schools in France would do well to support one brother schoolmaster, the new congregations of teaching brothers envisioned their members working singly or in pairs. 2
The man to whom Bishop de Pidoll entrusted the task of organizing a community of teaching brothers for the diocese of Le Mans was Rev. Jacques-François Dujarié, then fifty years old, a pastor in the village of Ruillé-sur-Loir and not in the best of health. Born in 1767 at Rennes-en-Grenouilles, in the borderland between Normandy and Brittany, to a family of small rural landowners, Dujarié had been a student in the seminary in Angers when the Revolution began. When the new regime enacted the Civil Constitution of the Clergy in 1791 in an attempt to create a national church under government control, the directors of the Angers seminary refused to swear the prescribed oath of obedience to the new laws. On the day that the new constitutional bishop entered Angers to take possession of his see, the superior of the seminary read to the students a meditation on how “the sins of the people call down upon them evil pastors.” Shortly thereafter, the Angers seminary was disbanded, and its 240 students, including Dujarié, sent away. 3
Dujarié returned to his home where his father was the mayor of the commune and where a constitutional priest had taken over as pastor. The latter abjured his oath a short time after and was imprisoned by the government. In the countryside, local opinion favored the nonjuring clergy, and the laws against them could not be strictly enforced. For the next four and one-half years, Dujarié worked as a weaver and, disguised as a shepherd or an itinerant lemonade peddler, moved about the district aiding the nonconstitutional priests, who served in hiding. During the Reign of Terror, in January 1794, Dujarié witnessed the execution of one of his former seminary professors. In December 1795, he traveled incognito to Paris and on the day after Christmas was ordained a priest by an underground bishop who conducted secret ordinations in the homes of trustworthy Catholics. A few days later, Dujarié celebrated his first Mass in the cellar of his friends’ house. 4
After returning to Le Mans, Dujarié was assigned to work in the area around the village of Ruillé-sur-Loir, and for the next six years, he served an apprenticeship under a remarkable priest, Jacquet de la Haye. The latter was described in a police report as
too zealous for his position, has means and can do good if he so wishes. . . . A fiery man, crafty, going regularly to exercise his ministry where he is called and even where he is not called, seeking out all means of making proselytes and carrying on heavy correspondence with his followers. . . . clever in persuading priests to retract the Oath. 5
On one occasion in 1800, de la Haye was arrested by the National Guard as he finished celebrating Mass. There was a scuffle, and as he was being dragged away, the mayor of the commune and a band of Catholics arrived on the scene, freed the priest, and took him to the mayor’s house where he took sanctuary until it was safe to move on. 6 Dujarié would later be remembered as being almost always in the company of his mentor during these years.
Together they led a rough and austere life, making long trips at night in frightful weather and along terrible roads to console the sick, bringing to them the help of religion and administering the sacraments, and also baptizing children. They rarely slept in beds, but almost always on hay or straw. They were obliged to carry with them the vestments and other things necessary for the celebration of holy mass. 7
When Napoleon signed the Concordat with the Church in April 1801, giving possession of dioceses and parishes back to nonjuring clergy, de la Haye was passed over for pastor at Ruillé-sur-Loir because of his staunch opposition to many local government officials. Instead, Dujarié was placed in charge of the “branch church” at Ruillé, while de la Haye was posted elsewhere. On the first of January 1803, Dujarié, then thirty-five years old, was appointed to the pastoral charge that he would exercise for the next thirty-three years. As he settled into his pastorate in the early months of the new year, Dujarié found himself responsible for the spiritual care of slightly more than one thousand people in an area of about twelve square miles. While he was no stranger to his parishioners, to whom he had been ministering for seven years, he now had to restore the public worship of the Church, which the regime had disrupted during the more than ten years of suppression. While the local council allotted him a salary, it seems that Dujarié did not hesitate to use his inheritance to meet expenses. 8

Jacques Dujarié was also keenly aware of the material needs of his people. In his first year as a pastor he organized a Charity Office, the counterpart of today’s social service agencies, and secured the services of two women religious from Évron to care for the sick in their homes. While making rounds of his parish, Dujarié was particularly distressed by the poverty and ignorance of the children in the farming village of Les-Hauts-de-Ruillé. He began to visit regularly and gathered the thirty to forty children there for catechism classes. Eventually, Dujarié entrusted the teaching to some women of the area, and out of this endeavor, a village school developed. By 1806 ten young women were living together in a fieldstone house in Les-Hauts-de-Ruillé, which had been named “la Petite Providence.” Besides instructing the children, the women also visited and nursed the sick. 9
Thus far, the ministry served by la Petite Providence appears to have existed without any long-range plan, and the women met needs as they arose. But in 1808, Dujarié sent his “Sisters,” as they were now being called, to Baugé, where they were trained for several months in the care of the sick by the saintly Anne de la Girouardiere, foundress of the Daughters of the Sacred Heart of Mary. In that same year, Dujarié sent some of his sisters outside of the parish of Ruillé to assist Jacquet de la Haye, thus beginning an expansion of their field of labor. In 1812 Dujarié appointed one of the sisters as superior of the little community that had developed. By 1819 Dujarié was applying for government authorization for his “Sisters of Ruillé.” 10
Up to this point, the group of pious women whom Dujarié had gathered to teach the children in a farm village and look after the sick poor was tending by force of circumstances and by a momentum that may not have been more than dimly perceived to develop into a religious congregation. What was needed, however, was someone who could devote full attention to the development of the community, give it a more consistent direction, and develop an internal government capable of providing for the expansion of the foundation and the establishment of its proper personality. That person arrived on the scene in July 1818, when a young noblewoman presented herself at Dujarié’s rectory in Ruillé.
Julie-Joséphine-Zoé-Rolland du Roscoät was the second child of a noble Breton family. During the Revolution, her father, a colonel in one of the king’s regiments, had fled the country to take part in an abortive invasion that sought to overthrow the new regime. When this mission failed, he returned secretly to France and lived in Rennes with his family, a fugitive who could be arrested and executed at any time. Because the government had confiscated and sold the family’s estates in Brittany, Madame du Roscoät had taken the children with her to Rennes where she supported the family by keeping a school. With the advent of Napoleon, the family recovered its lands in 1805. Furthermore, with the restoration of the monarchy in 1815, Zoé du Roscoät’s father had regained his rank as a colonel in the royal army.

Attuned, perhaps, by the years of penury in Rennes to the needs of the poor, Zoé du Roscoät began, once the family was again settled in their manor house, to look after the rural poor on her father’s lands and in the surrounding countryside. Her concern for the religious instruction of poor children led her to befriend a young Breton girl, Pérrine Lecor, who was to assist her in her work in Pléhédel, a town in the north of Brittany. Lecor had made a vow of chastity and had come to Pléhédel after a mystical experience compelled her to consider living her life in a religious congregation. When she confided this to Zoé du Roscoät, the latter began to wonder whether this might be her calling as well. During a retreat, Zoé du Roscoät consulted the Jesuit who was directing it, and he suggested that she look into the congregation of sisters that his friend, Dujarié, had started in Ruillé. They were, he assured her, the lowliest and poorest in France. 11
Zoé du Roscoät, Sister Marie-Madeleine, as she was known in the community, at thirty-seven was the oldest and by far the best-educated among the group of women whom she joined at Les-Hauts-de-Ruillé in the summer of 1818. Not only did she share the rough life that was their calling, but she also won their esteem. When Dujarié decided in 1820 to introduce the three vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience to the women and form them into a religious community, he also invited them to elect one of their sisters to a three-year term as superior general. They unanimously elected Sister Marie-Madeleine. 12
When Zoé du Roscoät had first come to Ruillé, there were eighteen sisters at Les-Hauts-de-Ruillé and the seven other houses that Dujarié had established. With the group’s stabilization effectuated by her leadership and by the introduction of religious vows, the sisters from the “Petite Providence” began to proliferate in numbers. In 1821 and 1822, there were twelve new foundations, some of them as far away as Saint-Brieuc in Brittany, Angers, and Tours in the Loire Valley. Dujarié had purchased the Ruillé property itself and had begun the construction of a large building that would serve as the motherhouse for his sisters. The prospects for the future seemed bright, when Sister Marie-Madeleine died suddenly of typhoid in June 1822. However, the foundation that she and Dujarié had laid survived, and her successor was at hand. Pérrine Lecor, the Breton girl who had first turned Zoé du Roscoät toward the idea of living a religious life under vows, had followed her into the community in 1820. In 1823 the sisters, now established in their new motherhouse, the Grande Providence, chose her as their new superior general. As Mother Marie-Cécile, she would lead the Sisters of Providence, as they came to be called, for forty-three of the next fifty years and see it expand not only in France but beyond, to the forests of Indiana in the United States. 13
It was Dujarié’s success with his Sisters of Providence that recommended him to his bishop as the man who could organize the much-needed community of brother schoolmasters in the diocese of Le Mans. After accepting the charge from Bishop de Pidoll at the clergy retreat of 1818, Dujarié asked his fellow pastors to send him suitable candidates for the new brotherhood. By September of 1820, he had two young men living with him in his rectory whose education and formation he was supervising. One of these two candidates left after a year, only to be readmitted later, and the other was eventually dismissed. Neither of these two candidates persevered. But on October 22, 1820, a young man arrived at Ruillé from one of the villages in the western part of the diocese who would become the anchor for Dujarié’s brothers that Zoé du Roscoät had been for the sisters. 14
Pierre Mottais was nineteen years old when he first came to Ruillé in the autumn of 1820. He and the other candidates used the attic of the rectory as their dormitory, which they shared with rats. The number of candidates multiplied in the next few months, however, and the growing community housed newcomers in the laundry, the bakehouse, the barn, and the stable—wherever a bit of room could be found. The kitchen doubled as the dining room, and the fare was scant. Dujarié had singled out Brother André, as his third recruit became known, very early on as his close collaborator in the task of shaping and leading the new brotherhood. In 1821 Brother André was sent to Le Mans for five months of schooling and teacher-training at the hands of the Christian Brothers. The following year he spent several months at the Christian Brothers’ novitiate in Paris. 15
When Brother André returned to Ruillé from Paris in June of 1822, he found twenty young men living in Dujarié’s rectory, in various stages of preparation for their work in the parish schools. Dujarié had chosen St. Joseph as their patron, and the Brothers of St. Joseph had begun to wear a religious habit consisting of a black soutane with a collar and a two-winged white rabat that hung down on the chest, after the fashion of the French clergy. They had also begun to have common prayer among themselves. The brothers rose at 5:00 a.m. and gathered for a meditation, which they made on their knees. Then they assisted at daily Mass celebrated by Dujarié. Beginning in 1821, they made particular examen in common before the noon meal. In the late afternoon, they assembled in the parish church for the visit to the Blessed Sacrament or to recite the rosary. Sometimes they made the Way of the Cross. They listened in common to someone reading from a spiritual book before supper at 7:00 p.m. After a period of common recreation, the subject of the next morning’s meditation was announced. The brothers retired to the dormitory at 9:00 p.m. 16
Dujarié was trying to mold young men from the villages who had very little education and who were accustomed to heavy farm work, into a community of schoolteachers. Daily life in the community was austere, and the brothers worked in the fields and vineyards that belonged to the Sisters of Providence, who were then in the process of moving their center to Ruillé. The isolation of Ruillé in the countryside made it challenging to find good teachers for the brothers, and Brother André gradually assumed the responsibility for their classes. 17

In the autumn of 1821, the community first sent its brothers out to parish schools. The following year, the brothers established seven new schools, and in 1824 eight more schools were entrusted to them. 18 These first Brothers of St. Joseph would spend two, four, six, but never more than ten months in formation in Ruillé before being sent out to teach. Their preparation may have been brief, but the need for teachers was considerable, and the requests were many. Dujarié counted on the pastors in the parishes where they served to complete the brothers’ formation. 19
Like Dujarié’s other foundation, the Sisters of Providence of Ruillé, the Brothers of St. Joseph grew rapidly during the 1820s. Between 1825 and 1828, records show that one 155 young men sought admission to the community and that 60 of these persevered through the period of formation and eventually took assignments in parishes. During these years, the new brotherhood also developed the structures that would give it shape. In the summer of 1822, Dujarié gathered the brothers for the first of the annual community retreats that would become a regular feature of the brothers’ life and formation. In 1824 the brothers moved out of Dujarié’s rectory into the Grand Saint-Joseph, a building that he had erected in Ruillé and that became the community’s center. In that same year, at the close of the community retreat, André and another brother made an annual vow of obedience to the superior, Dujarié, and thus inaugurated a practice that would bring a measure of cohesiveness to the new community in the years to come. Throughout this period, Dujarié’s poor health prevented him from making a visitation of the schools entrusted to the brothers, and this responsibility fell more and more upon his trusted assistant, Brother André. 20
Despite their rapid growth in numbers and the good prospects enjoyed by the brothers in these years, there was a serious problem that seemed to defy solution. Dujarié could not acquire legal status for the Brothers of St. Joseph as a religious congregation. During the Revolution, in 1790, solemn religious vows had been suppressed by law with the result that religious orders and congregations were no longer recognized in civil law as legal persons. A decree of August 4, 1792, had ordered the evacuation and sale of all buildings occupied by members of religious communities. Two weeks later, another decree abolished all religious corporations and secular congregations that might hold property for religious communities. The Concordat that Napoleon had signed with the Holy See in 1801 made no mention of religious orders and congregations, which had begun to revive under Napoleon when the government did not enforce the laws against them. An article in the Napoleonic penal code of 1810 forbade the erection of any association of more than twenty persons without government authorization. All this legislation survived the Revolution as well as the era of Napoleon, and it continued to restrict the organization of religious congregations in the years when Dujarié was founding his two communities. 21
Dujarié had, in fact, used his inheritance and depended on benefactors to pay the expenses of the Brothers of St. Joseph and the Sisters of Providence. These benefactions were not insignificant. In 1824, for example, King Charles X himself gave Dujarié 4,000 francs for the brothers, and by 1829, public authorities in the communes served by the brothers were granting gifts and subsidies in return for their services. But since the brothers had no legal standing as a community and could not receive gifts of money or property, all this support had to be routed through Dujarié. Dujarié himself could find no way of giving the brothers title to the Grand Saint-Joseph, their motherhouse. 22
In 1825 this problem of legal personality was resolved for the Sisters of Providence. In that year a law was passed that permitted the king to authorize religious congregations of women that had been founded before January 21, 1825. Such authorization granted a congregation the ability to hold and acquire property as a corporate entity. The following year, Dujarié applied for and obtained a royal ordinance conferring legal personality on the Sisters of Providence, and he began immediately to transfer the property to the sisters that he had acquired for them. 23
Unfortunately, this law of 1825 made no provision for congregations of men. Throughout these years, however, Dujarié was continually trying to find a way around such obstacles. In 1823 he had obtained a royal ordinance that recognized the Brothers of St. Joseph as a religious and charitable association dedicated to teaching. This ordinance gave the brothers some standing before the authorities of the Academy that regulated the teaching profession in France, and it also exempted the young brother schoolmasters from military service. This ordinance did not give them legal personality, however, and donations of real estate and money to the brothers had to go through the University, the government agency that supervised the schools of France and that held such gifts for an association like the Brothers of St. Joseph. Because this diversion of the community’s funds was unacceptable to Dujarié and the community’s benefactors, Dujarié continued to hold the property in his name. He received gifts and subsidies intended for the brothers and was responsible for all their expenses. 24
This situation might have been tolerable for some time had there not been a crisis. In July 1830, a palace coup had imposed a new constitution on the country, sent King Charles X into exile, and installed his cousin, Louis-Philippe, as a constitutional monarch. The anticlerical factions had come into power, and for a few months, it seemed as though the persecution of the Church might be resumed, and the horrors of the Reign of Terror repeated. 25
Many of the Brothers of St. Joseph, scattered as they were by ones and twos and left to their own devices in country villages, lost heart and abandoned their calling and the community. Whereas in 1829, nineteen men had applied at the Grand Saint-Joseph for admission to the community, and eighty brothers and twenty-five novices had gathered in Ruillé for the annual retreat, in 1830 the retreat could not be held because of concern over attacks by anticlerical factions. In 1829 there had been approximately 106 brothers of St. Joseph, and they were keeping forty-seven schools in ten dioceses. By the end of 1830, as few as fifty-six brothers were teaching in thirty-seven schools, and another twelve were in formation at the Grand Saint-Joseph and the boarding school in Ruillé. 26
In addition to his other problems, Dujarié’s health steadily deteriorated after 1827. In his sixties by then, Dujarié was confined to his bed for much of the time. When he did manage to get on his feet, he could walk only with crutches or by leaning on someone. Moreover, the anticlerical officials had taken over the municipal council of Ruillé and had refused to reimburse Dujarié for expenses incurred in operating the Charity Office and a school for the children of the town, which an earlier council had agreed to do. There were also disagreements with the parish trustees. 27
As if all this were not enough, there was growing tension between Dujarié and Mother Marie-Cécil Lecor, the superior general of the Sisters of Providence. Although Dujarié, once he had secured legal recognition for the sisters in 1826, had transferred the property acquired by him in their name, he had continued to administer the finances of both the Sisters of Providence and the Brothers of St. Joseph. Regarding himself as the common father of both communities, who had one patrimony administered by him, Dujarié believed that the resources of the one should be put at the service of the other. Thus, in 1822, when he was establishing the sisters in the Grande Providence, their motherhouse in Ruillé, he used the brothers as workmen and set them to caring for the sisters’ vineyards and tilling their fields. When he needed money to buy the land and erect the building that became the Grand Sainte-Joseph, the brothers’ center in Ruillé, he borrowed it from the sisters.
By 1829 Mother Marie Lecor was complaining to Bishop Carron, de Pidoll’s successor as bishop of Le Mans, that Dujarié was interfering with the activities of herself and her council and that he was intermingling the financial administration of the sisters and the brothers. During the critical year of 1830, when it seemed as if the anticlerical legislation might cause the disbandment of the brothers’ community, Marie Lecor appears to have feared that Dujarié would use up all of the sisters’ assets in his efforts to sustain the brothers. Her complaints to Bishop Carron persuaded him to visit Ruillé in September 1830, where he heard both her and Dujarié on the subject of the financial separation of the sisters and the brothers. As a result of this visit, Carron declared that the temporal administration of the two communities must henceforth be separate, and he authorized Mother Marie Lecor and her council to administer the funds of the sisters’ congregation. In November, the bishop appointed another priest as chaplain and confessor to the sisters. Since this priest was to live in Dujarié’s rectory in Ruillé, the wedge between the Brothers of St. Joseph and the Sisters of Providence was driven yet deeper. 28

Mother Marie Lecor now began to deal directly with Bishop Carron instead of going through Dujarié as before, and relations between her and the founder grew increasingly strained. At the end of April 1831, Carron and his vicar general, the Abbé Jean-Baptiste Bouvier, came to Ruillé to supervise the distribution of property between the two communities. The division included not only land and buildings but also the crops still in the fields, the wood already cut, the farm implements, domestic animals, and the use of the wine presses. Every item was accounted for down to a horse given to the sisters that would “be gladly loaned for the personal use of M. le Curé Dujarié, but not for the wagons or journeys by the brothers.” At the sisters’ annual retreat in September 1831, Sister St. Charles (Helene) Jolle was elected mother general to succeed Sister Marie Lecor who had held the office for eight years. A definitive agreement was drawn up that regulated practical details of the separation between the sisters and the brothers, but Bishop Carron still found himself called upon to settle disputes over the interpretation of this agreement. Thus, while Dujarié retained the title and certain prerogatives of honor as the founder of the sisters’ community, after 1831 he no longer exercised effective control over their congregation. 29
As the separation of the brothers’ and sisters’ temporal assets ensued, Dujarié turned to stabilizing the brothers’ community after the crisis of 1830, when it lost almost a third of its number, relinquished ten schools, and saw the stream of new candidates all but dry up. In September 1831, the brothers met at Ruillé for their annual retreat, the first since 1829. Dujarié did not convoke all of the brothers for this retreat but only certain ones and them by name. His circular announcing the retreat explained that the expenses of bringing them all would be too great, but it seems more likely that he feared that some members had succumbed to the spirit of the Revolution and would disrupt the gathering. 30
The brothers’ retreat of 1831 was preached by Basile Moreau, a young priest of the diocese of Le Mans who taught scripture and dogmatic theology in the diocesan seminary. At the end of the retreat, Dujarié and thirteen of the brothers in attendance signed a pact of fidelity wherein they pledged lifelong attachment to their congregation and committed themselves to remain united as a congregation even though their institute might experience suppression for a time. It appears that the Abbé Moreau suggested this pact. All but one of the fourteen signers persevered in their commitment until their deaths. 31
Moreau returned to preach the brothers’ annual retreat in 1832, this time in collaboration with a Jesuit missionary. All the brothers had been convoked that year, and at the retreat’s conclusion, forty-three of them made the annual vow of obedience to the superior, whereas only eighteen had done so in 1831. The confidence of its members in the little community’s survival was reviving. Moreau advised Bishop Carron that the Brothers of St. Joseph were following the rule and statutes of de la Mennais’s Brothers of Christian Instruction. He recommended to the bishop that some of the brothers be allowed to profess the three vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience and thus constitute a religious congregation. Bishop Carron turned down this suggestion for the time being, but the brothers were regaining a measure of stability once again. Furthermore, Moreau had achieved some measure of reconciliation between Dujarié and the Sisters of Providence, and Dujarié was beginning to talk to him about taking over the direction of the brothers. 32
In 1833 Dujarié raised with the bishop the question of religious vows for his brothers, requesting that those who had been members of the community for at least ten years and who had the approval of the six eldest brothers might make profession. Bishop Carron died soon after the brothers’ annual retreat in 1833, and nothing came of the request. Something had to be done, however, because the community’s assets, including the Grand Saint-Joseph in Ruillé, were still in Dujarié’s name, and Dujarié himself was almost entirely bedridden. In the fall of 1834, Brother André, after consulting with his confessor, the Abbé Moreau, took matters into his own hands and wrote to the new bishop, Jean-Baptiste Bouvier. Brother André proposed that the direction of the Brothers of St. Joseph be confided to a society of priests dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which would “consolidate, expand and perfect” the brothers’ community. The other brother directors, Brothers Léonard and Vincent, 33 wrote to the bishop supporting the proposal. Moreau himself had a similar plan in mind and was already at work on it. 34
Dujarié finally settled the financial question in late 1834 by donating the property that he had accumulated for the Brothers of St. Joseph to two of its members, Vincent and Baptiste, 35 “two men of confidence who agreed to dedicate themselves to the teaching of youth.” They would hold the assets for the rest of the community. 36 By the 1835 annual retreat, Moreau’s succession to Dujarié as the brothers’ superior had been arranged with Bishop Bouvier. On August 31, the last day of the retreat, Dujarié went up to the altar and, addressing the bishop in the presence of the brothers assembled, publicly requested that Moreau be named his successor in the government of the brothers’ society. Moreau thereupon accepted and the bishop gave his approval. The transfer was thus arranged peacefully and publicly. 37
Moreau lost no time in setting to work on the task at hand. The following day he began to create an administrative framework for the brothers’ community, organizing a general council of ten members and a particular council of four members plus the Abbé Narcisse Hupier, the brothers’ chaplain, to assist and advise in the governance of the community. The two councils took office immediately, and their first order of business was to transfer the brothers’ novitiate from Ruillé to a house that Moreau owned in the commune of Sainte-Croix, a suburb of Le Mans. By year’s end, there were seven novices in residence plus several other brothers who had been living at the Grand Saint-Joseph in Ruillé. With the novitiate thus relocated closer to him, Moreau could supervise it more carefully, and this he did. He reorganized the curriculum, urged spiritual direction, and put the novices to work preparing for the exams for teaching licenses under the tutelage of his colleagues in the seminary. 38
The following year, in October, Dujarié retired as pastor of Ruillé and moved to Sainte-Croix to live with his brothers and his successor on a pension provided by the Sisters of Providence. He died there on February 17, 1838, and was buried on the property. Thirty-five years later, in 1873, when the Sainte-Croix property was sold to pay the community’s debts, Sister Marie Lecor, again superior general of the Sisters of Providence, arranged to have Dujarié’s remains transferred to the sisters’ mother-house in Ruillé as one of the last acts of her administration. 39
When Moreau succeeded Dujarié as superior of the Brothers of St. Joseph at the brothers’ annual retreat in Ruillé in August 1835, he had just come from another retreat at the Trappist abbey of Port-du-Salut. There, together with two priests, Cottereau and Nourry, and two seminarians, Veron and Moriceau, he had laid the foundations for a new society, the Auxiliary Priests of the diocese of Le Mans. The work of this new society, as conceived by its founders, would be the preaching of parish retreats and missions and the support of the parochial ministry by substituting for sick priests and assisting in understaffed parishes. Two months before, Moreau had already sought and received the approval of Bishop Bouvier for his new venture in addition to taking over the direction of Dujarié’s brothers. 40
Basile Antoine Moreau was thirty-six years old in 1835 when he assumed the direction of the Brothers of St. Joseph and the Auxiliary Priests. He was born in the village of Laigné-en-Belin, some nine miles southeast of Le Mans, on February 11, 1799, the ninth of fourteen children. His father was a farmer and a local wine merchant. His first schooling came at the hands of his parish priest, with whom he studied until he entered the diocesan seminary at Château-Gontier in 1814. In 1816 he had moved on to St. Vincent’s Seminary in Le Mans and was ordained there in 1821 after completing his studies. The diocese was in the process of reestablishing its seminary system, and Bishop de Pidoll employed the young priest as a teacher and trainer of the future clergy of Le Mans. After ordination, Moreau was sent to Paris for a year of study with the Sulpicians and then a second year in the Sulpicians’ novitiate, the Solitude at Issy, on the outskirts of the capital. There, in retreat, Moreau studied the works of the spiritual masters and was himself formed in the disciplines of prayer and asceticism under the direction of the Sulpician superior, Gabriel Mollevaut. 41
When he returned to Le Mans in 1823, Moreau was assigned to teach philosophy at the seminary of Tessé. Two years later, in 1825, he was appointed professor of dogmatic theology at St. Vincent’s Seminary in Le Mans. In his course on ecclesiology, he came into conflict with the Gallican ideas of the seminary rector, the Abbé Bouvier, who arranged with the bishop to transfer Moreau to the chair of Sacred Scripture in 1830. Moreau was still teaching the scripture courses in 1834 when he was named vice-rector of the seminary, a post he held until 1836, a year after he had assumed the leadership of the brothers and the Auxiliary Priests. In 1833 Bishop Carron of Le Mans had also appointed him as the ecclesiastical superior and confessor for the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, who had opened a monastery in Le Mans with funds raised by Moreau from among his friends and benefactors. Moreau would carry out this responsibility for twenty-five years, until 1858. In light of all the tasks that had been given him, it seems that Moreau had clearly established himself in the diocese of Le Mans as a man of real ability for organization and administration.
While studying in Paris in 1821 and 1822, Moreau had heard about successful missions preached throughout the city and had aspired to preach similar missions when he returned to his diocese. In 1823, when he was back in Le Mans, Dujarié had invited him to join a band of mission preachers that he was forming. Unable to be relieved of his duties at the seminary, Moreau had to decline the offer but continued to accept invitations to preach whenever possible. It was one such invitation that brought him to Ruillé in August 1831, where he first became involved with the Brothers of St. Joseph. Although Dujarié’s proposed mission band had never become a reality, the project remained a viable one for Moreau, and he was in the process of realizing it in the summer of 1835 when he took over the direction of the Brothers of St. Joseph from Dujarié.
When Moreau moved the brothers’ novitiate to Sainte-Croix in the fall of 1835, the Abbé Hupier went with them. 42 In October, Hupier joined the Auxiliary Priests, bringing their number to six. Moreau himself was still living at St. Vincent’s Seminary, where he taught scripture and served as vice-rector. Except for Hupier, the others lived there as well and met in Moreau’s room for their common spiritual exercises during 1835–36. The Auxiliary Priests preached their first parish mission in February 1836. One of their number, Father Nourry, caught a cold during this mission and died several months later.
By October 1836, Moreau had been relieved of all his duties at St. Vincent’s Seminary and needed new quarters for himself and the other Auxiliary Priests. At this point, he was approached, quite unexpectedly, by a Mr. Barré, a well-known unbeliever and a rabid democrat, who offered to rent to him for a reasonable sum a house in Sainte-Croix. The house was just north of the property where the Brothers of St. Joseph had established their novitiate. There, with a rule of life approved by Bishop Bouvier, the Auxiliary Priests were in residence by the end of 1836, when their number had also increased to ten members. In November, the priests opened a school in the Barré house, and a building that would house students, priests, and brothers was under construction on the property owned by Moreau. 43
Thus, by the beginning of March 1837, when the Fundamental Act of Union was drawn up and accepted by the two groups, Basile Moreau had brought together in Sainte-Croix the Brothers of St. Joseph and the Auxiliary Priests, had set them to collaborating with one another, and had begun construction of the complex of buildings that would be the center and motherhouse of the Congregation of Holy Cross for the next thirty years. The two groups needed only to affirm and clarify the terms of this union that had “happened” over the previous year and a half. The painful separation of assets between the Sisters of Providence and the Brothers of St. Joseph between 1830 and 1831 was, no doubt, still fresh enough in the memory of everyone concerned that Moreau, with his talent for organization and administration, would want to do everything in his power to prevent a similar confusion of accounts between the brothers and priests.
On a winter day in 1837, a group of men came together in Sainte-Croix, a suburb of Le Mans, a provincial city in the west of France, to resolve a problem that was vexing them. The written record is unclear as to how many attended the meeting. What is clear is that all attendees belonged to one or the other of two religious institutes that had dedicated themselves to the revival of the Catholic Church in postrevolutionary France: the Brothers of St. Joseph and the Auxiliary Priests of the diocese of Le Mans. By the evening of that day, March 1, 1837, the men had reached an agreement on the terms whereby the two groups would not only collaborate in the future but would also pool their resources. At the time, their agreement appeared to be no more than a pragmatic solution to a problem that could have sown the seeds of discord between the two institutes. In retrospect, it would be regarded as the Fundamental Act, which united the Brothers of St. Joseph and the Auxiliary Priests as the Congregation of Holy Cross.
The document in question was couched in the language of lawyers and businessmen rather than that of theologians and pastors. Sixteen months previously, the Brothers of St. Joseph had moved their novitiate from Ruillé-sur-Loir, a country village some thirty-five miles southeast of Le Mans, to Sainte-Croix, a suburb of Le Mans, where Rev. Basile Moreau, their superior and also the leader of the Auxiliary Priests, owned a house and some land. By March of 1837, twenty-five novices were living in the house. The Auxiliary Priests, eight in number, were living in a rented house on an adjacent piece of property. The brothers’ boarding school in Ruillé had been transferred to the priests’ house the previous November, and its prospects were good. Both brothers and priests taught in the school, and the priests oversaw those brothers who were preparing for the exams whereby they would qualify for their teaching licenses.
To house the school and the students as well as the teachers, a new building, which was under construction on the Moreau property, was already being referred to as Notre-Dame de Sainte-Croix. To help pay for this new building, the Grand Saint-Joseph, the former motherhouse of the brothers in Ruillé, both land and buildings, had been sold. Since the property in Ruillé and the furniture from it were the only assets that the brothers possessed, they voiced fears as to whether they would have anything with which to support themselves should the new school fail, or the brothers and priests split up and go their separate ways. The question was also raised as to whether the brothers were expected to support the priests. 44
To allay the brothers’ fears that they might lose their patrimony, the priests recognized the brothers’ claims equivalent to 45,000 francs on the buildings and land adjacent to the new construction. 45 The brothers agreed that this sum exceeded the total of their capital investment derived from the sale of their property in Ruillé and the payments that they had made up to that date plus the value of the furniture and equipment that they had brought to Sainte-Croix and the labor which they had thus far contributed. Moreover, the Abbé Moreau, the legal owner of the property, declared that the brothers were to share equally with the priests should the property appreciate in the future and that they would thus be entitled to half the value of the property or 45,000 francs, whichever was the larger sum. 46
For the future, beginning on the day of the agreement, separate accounts would be kept for the brothers, the priests, and the students at the boarding school listing the receipts and expenses of each. A brother would keep the accounts, and a priest would supervise his work and present the ledger to the administrative council every week for examination and verification. 47 A cash book would record the amounts received or disbursed by each of the three establishments and this, too, would be presented at each meeting of the council. The profits from the boarding school were to be divided equally between the brothers and priests at the end of each year, regardless of how many of each there were. Finally, there would be a cash box locked by three different keys, each of which would be kept by a different member of the council. The box would be opened only in council with all three members present. 48
Had it regulated only these matters of management and housekeeping this Fundamental Act of Union between the Brothers of St. Joseph and the Auxiliary Priests would hardly have been worthy of its name. However, in the last four of the ten articles that comprise it, this agreement spelled out a broader vision for the future of the two groups that were parties to it. The Abbé Moreau, whose leadership of both communities had hitherto been the main link between them, stated his desire for each to take an interest in the mutual existence and preservation of the other. Moreover, Moreau declared that it was “his will” that if one of the two were dissolved before the other, the members of the dissolved institute should retain a right to their personal support out of the property and revenues of the surviving institute. The surviving institute would administer the property and income of the extinct institute until it might revive and enter upon its rights. 49
Individual members of the Brothers of St. Joseph and Auxiliary Priests were enjoined to make out their wills in such a way that members of one or the other institute would be their heirs. 50 Each member of the two groups was to sign, “on the day of his definitive admission,” a legally binding agreement whereby if he withdrew or was dismissed from the institute he would not, either in conscience or before a civil tribunal, lay claim to any rights on the goods of the community. 51 Finally, in an article that would later be a source of controversy among the parties to this union, it was agreed that Moreau would present at a later date the plan of governance whereby the direction of the Brothers of St. Joseph would be confided to the Auxiliary Priests. 52
The records do not indicate whether the Fundamental Act was approved on March 1, 1837, by a general assembly of the members of both institutes or by a smaller group (perhaps Moreau’s councilors) who represented them. The original document was eventually signed by fifty-four brothers, virtually the entire institute, and by eight of the priests. 53
The Fundamental Act of Union was neither a first constitution for the Congregation of Holy Cross nor a final solution to the problems attendant on the uniting of two hitherto independent institutes. Nevertheless it was a crucial first step toward achieving both of these goals, and from it everything else followed.
While the Fundamental Act of 1837 had established a basis for the collaboration of the Brothers of St. Joseph and the Auxiliary Priests under the leadership and authority of Basile Moreau, this new entity was an association, not a congregation in the canonical sense. It would take the next twenty years to achieve ecclesiastical approval as a religious congregation. It never received approval under civil law. In the course of those twenty years, the Association of Sainte-Croix, as it was called, would be expanded to include women, the Marianite Sisters of Holy Cross. It would also establish itself in other lands, far beyond France in Algeria, the United States, Canada, Italy, and India. The Congregation of Holy Cross that was approved by the pope in 1857 was a much different entity than the Association of Holy Cross in 1837.
When Moreau succeeded Dujarié as superior of the Brothers of St. Joseph in August 1835, the brothers were a religious community in intention but not in fact. They were not recognized by the civil law as a corporate person that could own property and receive gifts. In the eyes of the ecclesiastical authorities, they were as yet only an association of individuals who had bound themselves together by annual vows of obedience to their superior. As early as 1832, Bishop Carron had considered, upon the request of Moreau, the brothers’ profession of the three vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, which in Church law would constitute them as “religious.” For various reasons, Bishop Carron did not approve his request.
With Moreau in charge as superior and with the reorganization of their community underway, perpetual, or permanent, religious vows were introduced among the brothers in 1836. In August of that year, at the end of the annual retreat, Brother André Mottais and eleven others made perpetual profession before Bishop Bouvier. 1 Thereafter, as year by year more brothers made perpetual profession of the three religious vows, the Brothers of St. Joseph were being transformed from an association into a religious congregation. As late as 1845, however, Moreau was advising them to refer to themselves as an “association” since the civil law posed obstacles for “congregations.” 2
When Moreau had first asked Bishop Carron in 1832 whether the Brothers of St. Joseph might make religious vows as a means of “saving [their] Institute,” he had reported that they were following the rule and statutes of Jean-Marie de la Mennais’s Brothers of Christian Instruction. With the introduction of perpetual vows, the brothers needed a rule of their own, and Moreau set about drafting one for them. The brothers had provisional constitutions in 1839, and in August of that year, Bishop Bouvier approved those parts that dealt with internal discipline and the founding of schools. However, he withheld his approval of the parts concerning governing practices and the brothers’ spiritual life until the community had more experience in these areas. 3
The Rule that Moreau drafted at this stage identified the community as active rather than contemplative, with religious exercises, including a meditation period, conducted in common rather than individually. Several practices, such as particular examen, were appropriated from the rules of the Sulpicians and other French communities. The men were also to live and take their meals together, and the day was to be organized on a schedule approved by the superior of a house. The annual community retreat, begun under Dujarié, continued under Moreau. Although Moreau practiced various ascetical disciplines, he did not impose them in his Rule for other members of the community. It was a Rule tailored for men whose daily work was teaching in schools in a country where education and evangelization went hand in hand.
This first, provisional Rule of Moreau’s described the brothers as religious who were not to aspire to the priesthood nor to the study and teaching of Latin. The government of their community was to be in the hands of “an ecclesiastic” as long as the Auxiliary Priests continued to exist as a society. If the Auxiliary Priests disbanded, a brother would be appointed as director general of the brothers under an ecclesiastical superior designated by the bishop. The brothers thus had standing in ecclesiastical law as a congregation of diocesan right, subject to the Bishop of Le Mans. 4
The transformation of the Auxiliary Priests into a religious congregation took longer. Begun in 1835 as an association of five clerics who banded together to serve the diocese of Le Mans, they had drafted a rule of life in 1836, which Bishop Bouvier had approved. 5 In a report to Rome dated May 4, 1840, Bouvier had described them as “certain priests burning with love for souls and led by the love of poverty and obedience, who follow the community life under (Moreau’s) direction.” 6 If the Auxiliary Priests resembled a religious congregation, they were not yet one in the canonical sense.
In a circular letter to the Brothers of St. Joseph dated January 1, 1840, Moreau announced his intention to profess perpetual vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience and to organize a novitiate for the Auxiliary Priests. In this same letter, he confided that he had already made a private vow to “live and die in Holy Cross.” 7 In June of that year, Moreau asked Bishop Bouvier’s permission to open a novitiate for the Auxiliary Priests so as to edify them and to give an example to the brothers of whom twenty-four had by then made perpetual profession. 8 As yet, Moreau and all the other clerics involved were priests of the diocese of Le Mans and thereby directly subject to the authority of Bishop Bouvier.
On the morning of August 15, 1840, in the presence of the brothers and the Auxiliary Priests, Bishop Bouvier received Father Moreau’s perpetual profession of the three vows of religion. Moreau took the occasion to change his name to Basile-Antoine-Marie Moreau, adding “Marie” to signify this new identity. On the evening of that same day, after vespers, four other Auxiliary Priests, Pierre Chappé, Paul Celier, Augustin Saunier, and Edouard Sorin, pronounced vows. They had prepared for this moment by an eight-day retreat at the Trappist abbey of La Grande Trappe in Mortagne. There were as yet no definitive constitutions for the nascent congregation but only an outline bearing the notation: “to be submitted for the approval of the Bishop of Le Mans.” 9 Like the Brothers of St. Joseph, the Auxiliary Priests were at this point a congregation of diocesan right, subject to the Bishop of Le Mans. 10
Although he had not yet approved their Rule, in October 1840, Bishop Bouvier came to Sainte-Croix to bless a property called Chateauneuf, newly acquired by Moreau. Here, in the following month, at this large country house renamed Solitude of the Savior, Moreau opened the first novitiate for the Auxiliary Priests with six priests in residence and himself as the master of novices.
If all these gestures by the bishop seemed to imply his immediate approval of the new direction taken by the Auxiliary Priests, such was not the case. In February and March of 1841, Bishop Bouvier made an official inquiry into the community at Sainte-Croix occasioned by complaints from a few of the priests who did not want to make religious vows. Among the early Auxiliary Priests, some had been attracted to Moreau by his reputation as a preacher and by his plan for a band of diocesan missionaries. Not all of these priests came to share his attraction to the religious life under vows, which appears to have been inspired by Sulpician superior Gabriel Mollevaut, Moreau’s spiritual director. 11 Of the four men who joined with Moreau in 1835 to found the Auxiliary Priests, none made profession of religious vows. One died in 1836, and the other three subsequently withdrew from the association. Of the four who professed vows on the same day as Moreau in 1840, only two, Chappé and Sorin, persevered in Holy Cross. Celier rejoined the diocesan clergy in 1842, and Saunier, after working in the Holy Cross foundations in Canada and the United States and after falling out with Sorin, served in western Missouri for several years before returning to France. Of the five priests who professed vows in 1841, the first class to pass through the novitiate, only three remained in Holy Cross. 12
The Auxiliary Priests had been founded as an institute to provide specific services to the Church in the diocese of Le Mans. Only later had they begun to collaborate with the Brothers of St. Joseph and to become themselves a religious congregation. For some years, they remained a mixed society with some of their members under religious vows and others with no intention of professing vows. Some of those who had joined before 1840 found that the nature of the Auxiliary Priests was altered by the introduction of religious vows in a way that they could not accept. It was not until 1847, twelve years after their founding, that the last Auxiliary Priest who was not in vows withdrew from the community. 13
Although Bishop Bouvier had approved the taking of religious vows by Moreau and four of the Auxiliary Priests in 1840 and had himself received Moreau’s vows, he refused to approve the first draft of the constitutions for the Auxiliary Priests that Moreau submitted to him the following year. 14 It might be noted here that the vowed religious life, especially for men, was not widely esteemed in France in the first half of the nineteenth century. The Concordat of 1801, which continued to regulate the relationship between church and state during this period, did not even mention religious orders and congregations. If the religious institutes survived, it was only because the civil laws against them were not enforced. There was, moreover, the complaint of the anticlerical officials that all religious congregations were stalking-horses for the Jesuits.
Without the approval of his bishop, Moreau and the Auxiliary Priests who had professed vows were in the position of belonging to a religious community that was sanctioned by neither civil nor ecclesiastical authority. Since his relationship with Bishop Bouvier was strained, Moreau sought approval from another source. In September 1843, he sent a memorandum to Archbishop Fornari, the papal nuncio in Paris, reporting on the state of the Congregation of Holy Cross and suggesting that a word of papal approval would be appreciated. The nuncio was polite but noncommittal in his response. He reminded Moreau that in these cases Rome customarily awaited the approval of the local bishop before bestowing its own. 15
In October 1844, Moreau again sent a report to the nuncio. This time he included information on the community’s foundations in Algeria and the United States, noting that the Association of Holy Cross had been praised by sixty bishops in France and abroad and that the Bishop of Vincennes, Indiana, had given his approval to its constitutions. 16 In January 1845, a committee appointed by Moreau drew up a “summary” of the constitutions of the “Association of Sainte-Croix,” which came to some thirty-four pages when it was printed the following year. Moreau submitted this summary to the prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith (Propaganda Fide), the pope’s agency for supervising overseas missionary activity. The prefect had congratulated Moreau on sending some of his associates to North Africa and North America and had requested information on the general plan of his community. 17 Once again, Moreau asked Bishop Bouvier to approve the constitutions, and once again, Bouvier refused, citing the short time that the community had been in existence.
The following year, 1846, Moreau tried another approach. Through the good offices of the nuncio in Paris, Moreau received from the pope the personal title of apostolic missionary. Along with this title came the conferral, directly by the pope, of faculties to preach and to hear confessions in any diocese. While this title bestowed a certain measure of exemption from the authority of the local bishop on the priest who held it, such exemption did not extend to that priest’s associates. When Moreau again asked Bouvier for a favorable report on his community to Rome, the bishop responded by sending an unfavorable one, and papal approval was again forestalled. 18
In 1847 Moreau printed the “Constitutions of the Association of Sainte-Croix” in the form of a small book. At the conclusion of the community’s annual retreat in September, he distributed copies to all the members. For this, Bishop Bouvier angrily denounced him to the nuncio, and Moreau acknowledged in letters to the bishop that everything that he had done to gain the approval of his rules and constitutions was without the authorization of the bishop. 19 It was at this time that Father Gautier, the last of the Auxiliary Priests who was not in vows, moved out of Sainte-Croix, and two others who had professed vows transferred to a recently established diocesan mission band. When Bouvier died in 1856, he still had not given his approval to the constitutions of the Association of Holy Cross.
If Bishop Bouvier was not entirely pleased about developments among the men of Holy Cross, he was positively opposed to Moreau’s organization of a sisterhood at Sainte-Croix. With the relocation of the brothers’ novitiate to Sainte-Croix in 1835 and the opening of a boarding school there in 1836, the brothers had a pressing need for domestic services. At first, they were fed by the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, who had a convent in Le Mans, and whose ecclesiastical superior Moreau remained until 1858, when the brothers hired charwomen to prepare meals, do the laundry, and tend to the sick of the community. The charwomen were supervised for a time by one of the brothers and then by Moreau’s own sister, Victoire. As the number of men and boys to be cared for grew, Moreau appealed to two diocesan communities for sisters. When both turned him down, Moreau organized into a religious community the four “country girls” who were already doing the domestic work at Sainte-Croix plus Dujarié’s aged and hunchbacked housekeeper, Marianne, who had come to live there. 20
In the 1838–39 school year, Moreau began to refer to these women as “sisters.” He had them live together in the same house where they also had common prayers and recreation. During Lent of 1839, he attempted to arrange a reception of the habit that he had designed for them, a uniform dress of coarse cloth such as was worn by women of modest circumstances in the region. The girls objected, however, because they did not like the color, light blue, which in their experience was associated with children.
These disagreements, however, were the least of Moreau’s problems in getting a sisterhood started. Life was hard for these women and their lot was constant work. The winter of 1839 was severe, and their stockings often froze and stuck to the inside of their wooden shoes. Every day, regardless of the weather, they had to carry the laundry three-quarters of a mile to the river where they did the washing. In addition, they had to take the cows to pasture and keep up the house. As they passed along the lanes of the commune, they were often ridiculed by the neighbors and mocked. 21
In the first years the number of women in Moreau’s sisterhood grew slowly. Candidates came and left. The nature of the work left little time for their serious and systematic training as religious. Moreover, the women attracted to this new community were largely country girls, pious and used to hard work but with little education and few social graces. What Moreau most needed was a strong, educated woman who could be their leader.
She appeared in June 1841, in the person of Léocadie-Romaine Gascoin, twentythree years old and the daughter of a prosperous farmer from Bas-Maine. A year prior, Léocadie Gascoin had begun to consider a vocation to religious life when she had made a mission in her region preached by several Auxiliary Priests. She had come to Le Mans with her father expecting to enter the Convent of the Good Shepherd and to devote herself to rehabilitating troubled girls for which this foundation was already earning a good reputation. When she was presented to Moreau in his capacity as ecclesiastical superior of the Good Shepherd sisters in Le Mans, he told her that “he thought she would be for Holy Cross.” 22
In April 1841, Moreau had already placed two of the women in his young sisterhood with Mother Marie de Saint-Dosithée, the prioress of the Good Shepherd convent, so that under her tutelage they might make a novitiate and begin their preparation to profess religious vows. To these two he added Léocadie Gascoin and Marie Robineau. Toward the end of the retreat with which she had begun her novitiate, Moreau told Mademoiselle Gascoin that she would go to Sainte-Croix rather than stay with the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, and she accepted his decision. The four novices were clothed in the habit of the Marianite Sisters of Holy Cross on August 4, 1841, and Léocadie Gascoin became Sister Marie-des-Sept-Douleurs (Mary of the Seven Dolors). On September 29, the four sisters returned to the boarding school in Sainte-Croix where they began immediately to prepare for the arrival of the students and the opening of the school year. 23
With the addition of the first sisters, Moreau now had in place the general plan for the Congregation of Holy Cross that he had conceived as early as 1839. In a circular letter of that year to the Brothers of St. Joseph, dated June 26, he had spoken of his plan to found three communities at Sainte-Croix, which, “although living in separate dwellings and under different Rules, would, nevertheless, remain united among themselves after the model of the Holy Family.” When he came to draw up constitutions for the Congregation of Holy Cross in 1840, Moreau included a rule of life for the sisterhood that was then only just beginning to take shape. When Bishop Bouvier objected that he saw no reason for another community of sisters in his diocese, Moreau removed the mention of the women from these constitutions. 24
In his circular letter to the Brothers of St. Joseph of September 1, 1841, less than a month after the first Marianites had been clothed with the habit, Moreau spelled out in some detail his vision for the Congregation of Holy Cross as consisting of three separate establishments of priests, brothers, and sisters, “which God has willed to unite under the same general authority.” While Moreau’s associates may have shared his vision, Bishop Bouvier did not. Again, he objected to a community of women being included in the general plan for the association. 25
In 1843 Moreau once more approached Bishop Bouvier for approval of the constitutions that he had prepared for his “sisters” at Sainte-Croix. He described their role to Bouvier as “for the use of our houses . . . for retreats . . . housekeepers for presbyteries.” They were to have no employment, Moreau assured the bishop, “outside the service of our houses.” 26 Once again the bishop of Le Mans refused to approve the sisterhood that Moreau had established at Sainte-Croix.
In January 1848, only a few months after Bishop Bouvier had denounced Moreau to the papal nuncio in Paris for printing and circulating constitutions for the Association of Holy Cross without his approval, he issued a circular letter to his diocese in which he denounced “certain priests of the diocese [who] have, without authorization, organized communities of self-styled religious Sisters.” This circular reiterated that such groups had no standing in the diocese and were only associations of “pious girls.” 27 It was not until 1858, after Rome had approved the constitutions of the priests and brothers of Holy Cross, that a bishop of Le Mans, Jean-Jacques Nanquette, Bouvier’s successor, gave his imprimatur to the constitutions of the Marianite Sisters of Holy Cross.
However, with or without Bishop Bouvier’s approval, the Marianite Sisters of Holy Cross were a reality. Between 1841 and 1845, twenty-five women had taken the veil in the chapel of the Good Shepherd convent in Le Mans as members of the new community. Eighteen of these women persevered. 28 In 1843 Moreau assigned four sisters to the congregation’s new foundation at Notre Dame du Lac in the United States. Not wanting to send them off on such a long and difficult journey without some bond to the motherhouse in Sainte-Croix, Moreau allowed two of them, Sister Mary of Calvary and Sister Mary of the Heart of Jesus, to pronounce vows in the chapel at Sainte-Croix. They thus became the first Holy Cross sisters to do so. Since the sisters had, as yet, no constitutions approved by competent ecclesiastical authority, they addressed their promises to their “future superioress,” whoever she might be. 29
In that same year, 1843, Moreau took a further step toward organizing the sisters’ community at Sainte-Croix when he announced that among themselves they might call Sister Marie-des-Sept-Douleurs their superior, however, they should refrain from doing so in public lest they offend the bishop of Le Mans. For the two years previous, since 1841, she had been Moreau’s “assistant” for the governance of the sisters. 30
On September 15, 1844, Léocadie Gascoin and three other sisters professed perpetual religious vows before Father Moreau in a private ceremony in their chapel at Sainte-Croix. When Mother Marie de Saint-Dosithée, the prioress of the Good Shepherd convent who had functioned as novice mistress and de facto mother superior for the Marianites, died in June 1845, Moreau organized a general council for the sisters’ community and Sister Marie-des-Sept-Douleurs was elected superior for three years. 31
At this point, although ecclesiastical approbation was still lacking, Moreau had realized his general plan for the Congregation of Holy Cross. Three separate societies, each with its own general council and an Auxiliary Priest as its particular superior, were united under the direction of Moreau as superior general.
In 1843, under the provisional constitutions, Moreau had been elected superior general for a term of three years. Reelected to a second three-year term in 1846, Moreau was elected superior general for life in 1849. 32 In 1847 the Congregation numbered 278 members in the three societies, more than half of them among the brothers. The religious of Holy Cross directed or served at fifty-four institutions, the vast majority of them schools. 33
If the bishop of Le Mans would not give his approval to the Congregation’s constitutions, there were other bishops who would. In the United States, Father Edouard Sorin, the superior in that country, quickly gained the approval of the bishops of Vincennes, Indiana, and Detroit in whose dioceses the Congregation was working. Bishop Bourget of Montreal in Canada followed suit after Moreau made a foundation in his diocese in 1847. In 1849 Moreau assigned Sister Marie-des-Sept-Douleurs as superior of the Marianites in Canada. She remained there until 1863.
Approval of the constitutions of the Association of Holy Cross was not the only point of conflict between Father Moreau and Bishop Bouvier. Moreau’s development of a secondary school at Sainte-Croix was another. In November 1835, in his first circular letter to the Brothers of St. Joseph after taking over as their superior, Moreau told them to announce to interested parents that the following year he would open a boarding school at Sainte-Croix where French, Greek, and Latin would be taught. In due course, a primary boarding school was opened in November 1836, under the direction of Brother Vincent Pieau, a licensed teacher. Classes met in the Barré house and the boarders were lodged in dormitories in the attic and in an outbuilding. 34
The first opposition came from anticlericals who dominated the local school board. When the lease on the Barré house expired at the end of the year, Moreau announced that the school would be moved up the street into a new building that he had constructed on his property. The school board hoped to kill the school by delay tactics and pronounced the new building unhealthy because the plaster had not dried. Shortly before the opening of the school year, Moreau invited the parents of the students to inspect the new building, which was found to be quite satisfactory. With the support of the parents, many of whom were prominent citizens, Moreau proceeded to open the school as scheduled, and the school board backed down. 35
In October 1838, the Latin school, which Moreau had promised, opened under the direction of the Auxiliary Priests. 36 With this development, there began a test of wills between Moreau and Bishop Bouvier and a long struggle to establish the Institut Notre-Dame de Sainte-Croix as a secondary school with full teaching rights.
Since the Napoleonic era, the University, the government’s agency for regulating education, had enjoyed a monopoly over secondary education in France. An 1811 decree stated that students could not be admitted to the entrance examinations at the university level without a certificate attesting that they had pursued secondary studies at a lycée or collège (secondary school), “unless they present proof of having been taught by a tutor, or by their father, uncle or brothers.” The lycées and collèges, in turn, could not operate without the authorization of the University. After the restoration of the monarchy in 1815, this monopoly had been breached by a royal ordinance of 1821, which granted the privileges of the royal colleges to individual schools that were said to enjoy “full teaching rights,” however, by the 1830s and 1840s, these schools were few. Moreover, a law of 1837, aimed at the Jesuits, barred anyone from teaching on the secondary level who refused to declare in writing that he was not a member of an unauthorized congregation. 37
To apply for full teaching rights, an institution had to have a faculty with the requisite degrees, and it had to demonstrate that it could prepare its students for the study of rhetoric and philosophy as the royal lycées and collèges did. To even open a boarding school offering grammar classes and the study of Latin, a headmaster would need a bachelor’s degree and a decree from the Ministry of Education authorizing his school for ten years. To obtain such a decree, the Ministry required favorable reports from the mayor of the town or commune, the prefect of the department, and the rector of the Academy, the government agency that regulated the teaching profession. 38

Moreau had been befriended by a man named Leroux, who was the mayor of a commune in the department of La Sarthe. Monsieur Leroux had been brought back to the Church by a mission that Moreau had preached during the winter of 1838, and, in gratitude for Moreau’s spiritual ministry, Leroux used his influence as mayor to secure the approval of Moreau’s petition to open a Latin school at Sainte-Croix. The mayor’s contacts were good, and in six weeks, during the summer of 1838, the school’s opening was arranged before the authorities in Le Mans, both civil and ecclesiastical, could organize their opposition. 39
Bishop Bouvier objected because he was in the process of making collèges out of the two minor seminaries in his diocese, Précigné in the department of La Mayenne and Tessé in the department of La Sarthe. These two institutions would offer parents the opportunity to have their sons educated in a Catholic setting free of government control. Preparatory seminaries in France in this period often served in this capacity. Of some forty-seven thousand students in these institutions in the 1829–30 academic year, only about twenty thousand were destined for ordination. The seminaries were a significant exception to what was otherwise a monopoly over secondary education by the royal lycées and collèges. 40
Moreau’s school would compete with the two diocesan seminaries, and the bishop feared that there would not be enough students to support three Catholic secondary schools in the region. At one point, matters between Moreau and Bouvier came to such a pass that the bishop said that he would never again set foot in Sainte-Croix if Moreau went ahead with his school. 41 In fact, the bishop’s seminary at Tessé had to close after a few years because of government interference.
Another complaint against Moreau’s school was lodged with the bishop by the Abbé Dubreuil, a priest who was the principal of the Le Mans institution known as Oratory College. He, too, resented competition from Moreau. The bishop, moreover, was already blaming Moreau for the Christian Brothers’ school in Le Mans having become a communal school instead of being taken over by the Brothers of St. Joseph as Bouvier had intended. The Christian Brothers had founded this school, and they had applied for communal support when they learned that Bishop Bouvier was planning to remove them from its direction and give it to the Brothers of St. Joseph. 42
Other opposition to Moreau’s school came from those who resented the influence of the Church and the clergy on education at any level. They continued to harass Moreau’s school as well as those of the Brothers of St. Joseph whenever an opportunity presented itself. What Moreau opened at Notre-Dame de Sainte-Croix in October 1838, was a boarding school where Latin could be taught but without going beyond grammar classes. His intention, however, was eventually to go beyond this and to teach the humanities, which meant applying for full teaching rights and challenging the government monopoly on secondary education. All this would entail having teachers with the necessary diplomas, raising scholastic standards, and winning the public’s esteem. It also meant that the Auxiliary Priests would have to prepare themselves as educators. 43
A crisis of sorts occurred in 1842 when the legal head of the school, Father de Marseul resigned his position and withdrew from the Auxiliary Priests because he had decided not to take vows. The head of the school was required by law to have baccalaureates in both letters and sciences, and Moreau hurriedly sent two young Auxiliary Priests, Louis Champeau and Charles Moreau, his nephew, to Paris to study with the Jesuits. He then made a pilgrimage on foot to a local Marian shrine to pray for their success. The two priests returned, each with the required baccalaureates, in time for the opening of the school year in October. While Moreau continued to attend to most of the administrative duties, Champeau served as the legal head of the school during the next eight years when it was establishing its reputation. In 1850 Champeau was succeeded by Charles Moreau. 44
In 1846 a prominent citizen used his influence with the Ministry of Education to win authorization for four students to pursue their rhetoric classes at Sainte-Croix and to present themselves for the baccalaureate examinations without having attended a government collège. Because of the students’ success in the examinations, the Ministry granted permission in 1847 for an unlimited number of students at Sainte-Croix to do likewise. 45 By the late 1840s, the reputation of the Institut Notre-Dame de Sainte-Croix was well established, and when the Second Republic replaced the monarchy of King Louis-Philippe in 1848, Moreau was in a strong position. With eleven of the twelve deputies from La Sarthe supporting his petition, Moreau received full teaching rights for his school from the new minister of Public Instruction and Worship in January 1849. 46
The following year, the Falloux Law reformed education in France. Primary education was made free, and every commune was required to have a school. On the secondary level, while only the University could grant the baccalaureate, any French citizen could open a school and prepare students for the examinations. Moreau had, in effect, been one of the leaders in fighting for educational freedom in France. By 1850 his school at Sainte-Croix had become the leading secondary school in its region. Higher courses preparatory for entrance into such famous institutions as the Polytechnique and St. Cyr, the military academy, were introduced and the students of Sainte-Croix continued to be successful. 47 The achievements of Sainte-Croix, moreover, brought Moreau to the attention of Bishop Dupanloup of Orléans, who entrusted the direction of his minor seminary to the Congregation of Holy Cross in 1850. 48
Moreau’s steady progress in organizing the Congregation and leading the Institut Notre-Dame de Sainte-Croix to full teaching rights was paralleled in these years by yet another development of great significance for the young community, expansion outside of France. The nineteenth century, in general, was a period of intense interest and endeavor by European Christians in overseas missions. Among Catholics, France contributed more than half of the personnel who served abroad. This wave of enthusiasm for planting the faith in non-Christian lands touched Moreau and the Congregation of Holy Cross as well. 49
In 1830 France had occupied a portion of the Mediterranean coast of North Africa and proceeded to organize the territory of Algeria as a French colony. In 1838 a resident bishop, Dupuch, was appointed and consecrated for this new colony with the city of Algiers as his see. Like Moreau, Bishop Dupuch had studied with the Sulpicians at Issy and had been active in giving parish missions, and the two men were acquainted with one another. At the time of his consecration and departure for Algeria, in October 1838, Moreau offered to send some Brothers of St. Joseph to assist the bishop in his new diocese. 50 Dupuch accepted, and in May 1840, four brothers and two priests of Holy Cross arrived in Algeria. 51 Three more brothers and another priest arrived later that same year. The faithful Brother André Mottais, long a pillar of the Brothers of St. Joseph, was designated as the director of the brothers’ houses in North Africa.
The brothers were entrusted with an orphanage founded by Bishop Dupuch, and the priests were put in charge of the preparatory seminary as well as a parish that encompassed all the suburbs of Algiers. One of the priests also ministered to more than eight hundred patients in a military hospital. All were overworked, and the bishop proved unable to make good on his promises of financial support. When two of the brothers died, the eight men who remained were recalled to France in June 1842. Worn out by his ordeal in Algeria, Brother André died at Sainte-Croix in March 1844.
However, the brothers had made a good impression on the local authorities, and in April 1843, the congregation of the Brothers of St. Joseph was granted legal recognition by a royal ordinance “to found and direct schools in the French possessions of North Africa.” 52 In the autumn of 1844, six brothers were sent to Algeria where they taught in schools at Bône, Philippeville, and Oran. This time they remained until 1854 when they were again withdrawn. In 1859, two brothers were sent to a school in Philippeville, and the Congregation of Holy Cross remained in North Africa until 1873. 53
A second and permanent overseas foundation in the United States grew out of a visit to Le Mans in August 1839 by Bishop Célestin de la Hailandière. Hailandière had recently been named the bishop of Vincennes in Indiana and came to Sainte-Croix at the suggestion of Father Mollevaut in Issy, Bishop Bouvier agreed to send several Sisters of Providence from Ruillé to work in Hailandière’s frontier diocese, and Moreau, already committed to the bishop of Algiers, promised to send some brothers to establish Catholic schools when men were available. 54 Two years later, in August 1841, Moreau was able to send a contingent of six brothers to Indiana, among them Brother Vincent Pieau, who had joined Dujarié’s community in 1821 and taught at the boarding school opened by Moreau in Sainte-Croix. To their number Moreau added one of the first Auxiliary Priests to take vows, Edouard Sorin, as their superior. 55
This group arrived in Vincennes in October 1841 and spent a year working in a Catholic settlement in southern Indiana. In November 1842, they transferred the center of their activities to South Bend in the northern part of the state, where they opened a school on some land given to them by Bishop Hailandière. In 1843 the Indiana mission was reinforced by a second contingent of three priests, a brother, and four sisters. Over the next two years, between 1844 and 1845, three more priests, five brothers, and seven sisters arrived from France to swell the ranks of the American Holy Cross community. In addition, the brothers and the sisters began almost immediately to receive candidates for their respective societies in the United States. In 1844 Sorin received a charter from the Indiana State Legislature naming the community’s school “The University of Notre Dame du Lac” and enabling it to grant degrees. The Congregation of Holy Cross had put down roots in the New World.
It was Mollevaut again who sent another missionary bishop, Ignace Bourget of Montreal, to Sainte-Croix in August 1841. Bishop Bourget arrived just a few days after the contingent had left for Indiana and was told that the Congregation could not help his mission in Canada at that time. The following year, however, two of his priests returned to renew Bourget’s request, and Moreau seems to have made a commitment to them at that time. Over the next few years, other requests for help were turned down in favor of Montreal, and in November 1846, Bishop Bourget was back at Sainte-Croix to make the final arrangements. 56 Most of the Holy Cross religious were destined for the parish of Saint-Laurent on the west side of the island on which Montreal is located. The pastor, Father Jean-Baptiste Saint-Germain, had even traveled to Indiana to discuss his needs with Sorin. Three brothers were also assigned to Terrebonne on the northwest bank of the St. Lawrence River, twelve miles north of Saint-Laurent. 57
The first contingent to set out for Canada was a large one. Two priests, a seminarian, seven brothers, and four sisters left France with Bishop Bourget at the end of April 1847. They reached Montreal via New York City on May 27, and shortly thereafter took up residence in the village of Saint-Laurent. In early June, the three brothers assigned to Terrebonne moved there along with Father Lyonnet, one of the Auxiliary Priests, who was to be in charge of their house and to serve as assistant pastor in the parish. Father Louis Vérité, the superior of Holy Cross in Canada, remained at Saint-Laurent, where he served as assistant pastor. The sisters took over a school for girls that had been founded in 1720 while the brothers opened a day school for boys that eventually took in boarders.
The first winter in Canada was hard for the French religious, unaccustomed to such a severe climate. Some of the brothers and sisters were dispersed to live alone or in difficult circumstances because Father Saint-Germain found that he could not provide for so many people. Food and fuel were scarce, and the straitened circumstances in which they lived caused tension among the religious. When Father Victor Drouelle arrived from France in the summer of 1848 with five brothers and three sisters to reinforce the Canadian foundation, he reported to Moreau that he found a lack of discipline and much wrangling among the brothers. Vérité, while a self-effacing and long-suffering man, seems to have been meek and humble to the point of being indecisive and unable to prevail upon the contentious members of his community to live at peace with one another. In 1848 Lyonnet withdrew from the Congregation, and Saunier, the other Auxiliary Priest, moved to Indiana where, after an argument with Sorin, transferred to the Jesuits.
Despite the difficulties in establishing the new foundation, the brothers and sisters had begun almost immediately to receive candidates for their societies. In 1849 Moreau recalled Vérité to France and sent Father Joseph Rézé as the new superior of Holy Cross in Canada. With Rézé came Sister Marie-des-Sept-Douleurs as superior of the sisters to begin her fourteen-year sojourn at Saint-Laurent. Under the leadership of these two religious, the Canadian foundation was stabilized and entered upon a period of steady growth. In August 1852, the community moved into a new stone building that housed the brothers’ collège at Saint-Laurent, the center of the Congregation in Canada for the next 116 years.
A third Holy Cross foundation in North America almost came about in the 1840s. Informed by Bourget of his good fortune in recruiting personnel for his diocese at Sainte-Croix, another Canadian, Archbishop Francis Norbert Blanchet of the recently created metropolitan see of Oregon City in the Oregon Territory in the United States came to Le Mans in November 1846, hard on the heels of Bourget, to solicit help. Moreau and his council agreed to make a foundation in Blanchet’s diocese in the Pacific Northwest. The first contingent, three brothers, was to sail from France with the archbishop when he returned to the United States in January 1847.
However, after he departed from Le Mans, Archbishop Blanchet recruited a band of Jesuit missionaries to help him, and he seems to have preferred to rely on an established community with experience in Native American missions rather than on the young Congregation of Holy Cross. The Holy Cross missionaries were already on the dock at Brest ready to board the ship when they received word to return to Le Mans. It would be another fifty-five years before Holy Cross would put down roots in Oregon. 58
Meanwhile, yet another overseas foundation was in the making in the French colony of Guadeloupe, an island in the eastern Caribbean Sea. Father Casimir Dugoujon, a former member of the Congregation of the Holy Ghost who had served as a missionary on Guadeloupe, had joined the Congregation of Holy Cross in 1843. Dugoujon was an ardent advocate for the abolition of slavery. When the French monarchy was overthrown at the beginning of 1848, his friends in the new republican government arranged for him to be appointed prefect apostolic of Guadeloupe. Both the Holy Ghost Fathers and Bishop Bouvier protested his appointment but to no avail. 59

When Dugoujon left for Guadeloupe in July 1848, Moreau assigned two religious, Father Jean Bisson and Brother Prosper Chenevière, to accompany him and to constitute his local community. The new prefect apostolic arrived on Guadeloupe on August 12, 1848, and almost immediately came into conflict with the military governor over the emancipation of the slaves. Things came to such a pass that on January 26, 1849, he was ordered to return to France to answer the accusations against him. He did, and though eventually cleared of the charges, he was not allowed to return to Guadeloupe. He withdrew from Holy Cross in 1851. In 1849 Father Bisson also left the Congregation. Brother Prosper returned to Sainte-Croix in 1851. 60
On January 25, 1849, the day before Dugoujon left for France, Father Drouelle, having completed his visitation of the foundations in Canada and Indiana, arrived on Guadeloupe. Dugoujon had less than twenty-four hours to brief Drouelle on the situation and to delegate his powers to him before departing for Europe. As later events would demonstrate, Drouelle had real talent for diplomacy, and he stayed on at Guadeloupe until 1852 when a new prefect apostolic was appointed. 61 Thus ended the first Holy Cross presence in Latin America.
Among the French missionaries whose request for help the Congregation of Holy Cross had had to turn down was a certain Luquet, who had been in touch with Moreau as early as 1841 about brothers for a diocese in India. In April 1850, Luquet, by then a bishop and a Vatican functionary, wrote to ask whether the Brothers of St. Joseph might take over the direction of an orphanage and trade school attached to the Roman parish of Santa Prisca. This institution recently had been established to take in young boys found roaming the streets after the Roman uprisings of 1848–49. Among its benefactors were the cardinal vicar and a Father Theiner, a German priest resident in Rome with whom Moreau had corresponded while he was negotiating with Archbishop Blanchet about a foundation in Oregon. Theiner wrote to say that Pope Pius IX himself was interested in this project. 62
At the end of October 1850, the request had been accepted and Moreau left for Rome with four brothers, Michel Dangeard, Louis-Marie Tul, Siméon Taranne, and Pie Marsolier. By November 19, the five Frenchmen, who as yet did not speak Italian, had moved into Santa Prisca and had taken over the care of the orphans. There were eighteen boys in all and the previous administrator, although a man of good will, had not been able to do much by way of imposing discipline and order. Moreau immediately moved to correct the situation. 63
The journey to Rome was the first time that Moreau had traveled outside of France, and his letters back to Sainte-Croix reveal him as being fascinated by the Eternal City. 64 On November 23, 1850, the feast of the Dedication of St. Peter’s Basilica, Moreau attended the solemn celebration in St. Peter’s. As the papal procession passed by, Moreau was so overcome with excitement and joy that he pushed through the surrounding guards and cardinals and threw himself on his knees before the pope to kiss his feet. Pope Pius IX was charmed by this ardent expression of devotion and joked about it when he received Moreau in a private audience three days later. 65
After that, affairs moved quickly. On December 9, the pope received Moreau and Brothers Michel, Louis-Marie, and Pie in audience. He told them that they might use his vineyard on the outskirts of Rome, Vigna Pia, as a place to train their boys in agriculture, an expansion of the trade school that Moreau had already proposed. Two weeks later, Moreau, two of the brothers, and eleven of the orphans took up residence at Vigna Pia, where both food and furnishings were scant at first. 66 The others stayed behind in the city at Santa Prisca, which remained a workshop where the brothers instructed the boys in light trades. With the move to Vigna Pia, Moreau came into frequent contact with Monsignor Xavier de Mérode, a Belgian-born papal chamberlain, whom the Holy Father had appointed to supervise the vineyard. 67
Moreau stayed on in Rome until March 1851. The four months that he spent there presented him with opportunities that went far beyond the immediate work at hand. Besides making himself and the Congregation of Holy Cross known to Pius IX, Moreau also made the acquaintance of various people like Theiner and Mérode, who had official standing and access to the Roman Curia and who could advise and represent him in his dealings with the Roman authorities. These two individuals appear to have first suggested to Moreau that he pursue the approbation of his community’s constitutions through Propaganda Fide on the premise that Holy Cross was, in fact, a missionary institute in light of the foundations in the United States and Canada, both mission countries. This approbation would make Bishop Bouvier’s refusal to grant approval much less crucial, although still important. Moreau submitted a petition for approval to Propaganda Fide on January 3, 1851. On March 10, just a few days before he left Rome to return to France, he was informed that Pope Pius IX had approved in principle this new approach. 68
To serve as the liaison with the Vatican for the affairs of the Association of Holy Cross and to be the superior of the houses at Vigna Pia and Santa Prisca, Moreau assigned Father Drouelle, recently returned from Guadeloupe, to serve as procurator general. Drouelle arrived in Rome in June 1851. Described as having the “coolness, calculated prudence, temporizing patience, and . . . . the elegant manners which were as warmly flattered by others as they were cleverly flattering in his associations with those around him,” he proved to have the diplomatic skills required by the situation. 69 The pope’s interest in Vigna Pia gave Drouelle ready access to the pontiff, and he befriended Monsignor Alessandro Barnabo, soon to become a cardinal and the prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith (Propaganda Fide). He also enjoyed a good reputation in the French colony in Rome and had Father Moreau’s confidence. 70

Drouelle proposed to Moreau that he send seminarians for further study in Rome at the Propaganda’s seminary. In response, Moreau sent three men from France and two from the United States. Drouelle welcomed them in the autumn of 1853 and housed them with himself in rented quarters near the Propaganda offices. Others joined them in the following years. In May 1854, Drouelle was named the rector of the church of St. Nicholas of Lorraine, and he put the seminarians in a nearby house. In September 1854, he proposed to Moreau that Holy Cross purchase the convent and church of St. Bridget in the Piazza Farnese. In June 1855, with the approval of Moreau and his council, Drouelle signed a contract to lease St. Bridget’s perpetually for an annual payment to the canons of Santa Maria in Trastevere, the owners of the property. 71 Promises of financial assistance failed to materialize as soon as expected and this caused distress for both Drouelle and Moreau. 72 In 1856 Drouelle established a brothers’ novitiate for the vicariate of Italy at Ferentino in the Sabine Mountains near Rome. 73 All these developments gave the Congregation a presence in Rome, which in Drouelle’s hands worked to its advantage.
The success of the Holy Cross religious with the Roman orphans brought a request from the diocese of Kraków in Poland to staff an agricultural orphanage on the order of Vigna Pia. Three brothers were sent to take over this institution in 1856, but they were withdrawn in 1865 after many difficulties. Meanwhile, other orphanages had been founded by the Congregation in Poland at Posen in 1851 and at Lwów in 1868. Neither of these foundations survived the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–71. 74
Results from Moreau’s appeal for the approbation of his community constitutions through Propaganda Fide were not long in coming. Eight months after his return from Rome, in November 1851, Moreau received a letter from Cardinal Franzoni, the prefect of Propaganda Fide, asking whether the Congregation of Holy Cross had personnel that it would send “to propagate Catholicity among pagan nations” and hinting that if the answer were in the affirmative, approval of the constitutions would be helped along. While Bishop Bouvier objected to committing Holy Cross religious to work among non-Christians, Moreau replied that he thought that members of his Congregation could be found for this work. 75
In May 1852, Bishop Thomas Oliffe, the vicar apostolic of East Bengal, whose jurisdiction included the present nation of Bangladesh, plus parts of Assam in India, as well as Myanmar (the British colony of Burma), came to Sainte-Croix at the suggestion of Propaganda Fide to propose that the Congregation of Holy Cross take over his pastoral charge. In June, Cardinal Franzoni wrote to Moreau, saying that “the prompt expedition of these missionaries will tend greatly to the obtaining for your Society the approbation of the Holy See which you so ardently solicit.” 76 In July, Moreau wrote to Rome to announce that Holy Cross would accept Oliffe’s offer. 77
Christian missionaries had been active in Bengal since 1598, but the population remained overwhelmingly Muslim by the mid-nineteenth century. The climate had always been hard for Europeans to bear, and when Oliffe offered responsibility for the territory to Moreau, he had only three priests working under him. 78 A decree was issued by Propaganda Fide entrusting the mission in eastern Bengal to the Congregation of Holy Cross, and Moreau began to make preparations to assume responsibility.
A priest, brother, and sister who spoke English were assigned from the Congregation’s foundation in the United States to the new mission. Another Holy Cross priest accompanied Bishop Oliffe on a visit to Ireland in hopes of recruiting English-speaking candidates there. Father Edouard Sorin, the superior of the American foundation, was chosen to lead the expedition to Bengal, but he declined the appointment. A priest working in France, Michel Voisin, was then appointed as the first superior of the new mission. By the end of 1853, four Holy Cross priests, three brothers, and five sisters had arrived in Bengal to assist the three priests who had been working under Oliffe. By July 1854, two of the latter had died. In 1855 cholera swept Bengal claiming the lives of Voisin, and Benedict, one of the brothers. Two priests and a sister were sent to reinforce the mission in 1855, but the sister and one of the priests died before reaching their station. Several others had to return to France because of ill health, including Louis Vérité, the first superior in Canada, who had been appointed to succeed Voisin as superior of the Bengal mission. Vérité died at sea on his way back to France.
Pierre Dufal, thirty-six years old and only five years ordained, was then sent out to Bengal as superior of the mission to replace Vérité in 1858. Two years later, he became the first Holy Cross priest to become a bishop when he was consecrated as vicar apostolic of East Bengal. The Congregation had taken root in yet another part of the world but at great cost. 79
With the Congregation established and working in Bengal, a brief of praise for Moreau’s community was issued in a decree by the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith in May 1856. 80 Bishop Bouvier had died the previous year and his successor, Bishop Jean-Jacques Nanquette, proved to be much more favorably disposed to the Congregation that Moreau had founded in his diocese. On May 13, 1857, Cardinal Barnabo, the prefect of Propaganda Fide, signed a decree approving the constitutions of the Congregation of Holy Cross. 81
Even at this point, Moreau’s success was not complete. Rome had balked at having men and women united in the same community, and Moreau had been forced to agree that the Marianite Sisters of Holy Cross would form a separate congregation. 82 When he set out in July 1857, on his first and only visit to the Holy Cross foundations in North America, one of Moreau’s principal concerns was to arrange the separation of assets among the men and women of Sainte-Croix. In Canada this was easily done. In the United States it could not be done at that time, and the inability to do so was the harbinger of troubles yet to come.
Nonetheless, the year 1857 represented a high point for Basile Moreau and the Congregation of Holy Cross. As he witnessed the dedication of the conventual church in Sainte-Croix on June 17, Moreau could believe that his vision of what God was calling him to do, and which he had been following so assiduously, was being fulfilled before his very eyes.
Moreau had conceived the idea of a conventual church as a place of assembly for his fledgling community. He had announced his plan to the priests and brothers at Sainte-Croix one evening in 1840 as they gathered for May devotions in the small room that they were using as a chapel. The following day he and some confrères began clearing the ground at the site where he had decided that the new church would be built. As yet, they neither had the money for such a project nor even own the small field on which the building was to face. 83
The proposed structure was far larger than necessary for the approximately 130 people who made up the Congregation in 1840. The plans, drawn up by the Abbé Tournesac, a priest of the diocese of Le Mans and a friend of Moreau, called for a neogothic stone building 162 feet long with a nave, the central part of which was 54 feet high and 24 feet wide. Situated on a small knoll, the church dominated the houses of the neighborhood and the surrounding commune when it was dedicated.
In March 1842, when Bishop Bouvier of Le Mans was withholding his approval of the constitutions of the Congregation, and although he refused even to countenance the establishment of a sisterhood at Sainte-Croix, he came, nonetheless, to bless the cornerstone of the conventual church. The following year, when the Congregation launched a drive to raise money for the construction of the church, the bishop was the first to subscribe a contribution. In 1845 the nave had a roof, and the community and the students from the boarding school next door, the Institut Notre-Dame de Sainte-Croix, began to use the church. 84
The project did not want for critics. Moreau described the style of his church as “early thirteenth century,” and his reverence for the Middle Ages drew upon him the sarcasm of the sons of the Enlightenment in the vicinity. 85 Money for construction was raised from legacies, gifts, special collections, and the savings of the community at Saint-Croix: this last despite advances to other houses of the Congregation in France and abroad. 86 There were those within the Congregation who argued that the money could have been put to better use for the Church at large and the poor. Still others objected to the cost, claiming that money was being drained from the parishes of Le Mans, and suggested that the construction of this large church was Moreau’s way of setting up a new parish under his control. 87 The priest who was master of ceremonies in the diocese was one of those who were hostile to Moreau. This man had agreed to assist the bishops only on condition that Moreau not appear at any moment during the dedication of the church. Since the service could not go on without the master of ceremonies, Moreau had to witness it from a balcony in the transept of the church where he was hidden among invited members of the laity. 88 The church that he had envisioned seventeen years previously, before he had either enough land for the building or the money with which to construct it, was now completed.
These criticisms and vexations notwithstanding, the dedication of the conventual church of Notre-Dame de Sainte-Croix was a triumph for Moreau and his young community. Coming just one month after the announcement that Pope Pius IX had approved the constitutions of the male segments of the Congregation of Holy Cross, the dedication symbolized the survival and the flourishing of the community that had begun only twenty years before when Moreau brought together the Brothers of St. Joseph and the Auxiliary Priests at Sainte-Croix. This small commune on the outskirts of Le Mans had become the center of an international organization and had given it its name. The course of events that led to these successes was long, difficult, and full of surprises.
Only twenty-two years after he had taken over the direction of the Brothers of St. Joseph and had founded the Auxiliary Priests, and only twenty years after the Fundamental Act of 1837, which had united them into one community, Moreau could count 72 Auxiliary Priests and 322 brothers, and the highest authority in the Catholic Church had approved their constitutions. Only sixteen years after the first sisters had begun their novitiate at the Good Shepherd convent in Le Mans, they numbered 254, and they were working with the men of Holy Cross everywhere except in the Papal States and in Algeria. 89 Rome was assuring Moreau that it was only a matter of time until their constitutions, too, would be approved. The Institut Notre-Dame de Sainte-Croix, which had opened its doors in Sainte-Croix only nineteen years before, had become one of the leading schools in its region and was earning for the priests and brothers a reputation as educators. The purchase of the Collège Saint-Marie des Ternes in a suburb of Paris in 1857 would also give the Congregation a presence in the capital and the promise of a flourishing institution. 90
The religious of Holy Cross had 102 houses throughout France, and in the Papal States, Poland, Algeria, the United States, Canada, and India. From a group of men and women serving a predominantly rural diocese in western France, the Congregation of Holy Cross had grown into an international institute active on four continents. While it marked neither the end of growth nor of trials, the year 1857 was truly a milestone for Basile Moreau’s community.
United States, 1841–61
On the evening of September 13, 1841, the sailing ship, Iowa , put into New York harbor after a voyage of five weeks from Le Havre, France. By special permission of the captain, one of the passengers, a young French priest, Edward Sorin, 1 was allowed to disembark that evening ahead of the other passengers who were required to wait in quarantine for two days. Upon reaching land, Sorin fell to the ground and kissed the earth. He had arrived in the country that was to be the site of his labors for the next fifty-two years. 2
When Sorin first came to the United States, he was a young man of twenty-seven whose judgment and talents were mostly untried. Presiding over the establishment of his Congregation in a foreign land under difficult conditions was a challenge to the young bourgeois much as managing the family estates in France or a career in military service might have been for one of his peers. Not only did he accept the challenge, he welcomed it. If Sorin discovered that succeeding in the task assigned to him engaged his wits and his energy, he also found that the “boosterism” of the pre–Civil War United States admirably suited his temperament. Always enthusiastic about the prospects for success in whatever he undertook, Sorin was at home among the entrepreneurs, both secular and ecclesiastical, on the American frontier. 3
The first contingent of Holy Cross religious sent to America were to open and staff primary schools in the diocese of Vincennes, Indiana, then on the frontier. Over the next twenty years, under Sorin’s leadership, they established a university, parish schools, a trade school, orphanages, and parishes and expanded their activities to various American cities: New Orleans, Cincinnati, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. Sorin managed to prevent the Marianite Sisters from being absorbed into a diocesan congregation, recruited new members for the Congregation, and opened novitiates for the men and women of Holy Cross. Some of the Congregation’s initiatives did not fare well, but those that were successful gave the Congregation of Holy Cross standing in the American Catholic Church.
The day after his arrival in New York, September 14, was the feast of the Holy Cross, a fact that Sorin noted as he celebrated Mass for the first time in the New World. 4 Two days later, he was joined by the six Brothers of St. Joseph who had come with him from France bound for the forests of Indiana. After resting in the city for several days, the seven missionaries set out for the interior of the United States. They could have started west by rail from Philadelphia, but to save money they chose the longer water route: up the Hudson River by steamboat to Albany, across New York State on the Erie Canal to Buffalo, and then by steamboat across Lake Erie to Miami, Ohio, on the Maumee River near Toledo. From the steamboat, they transferred to wagons for a rough, two-day journey across the countryside to Defiance, Ohio. In Defiance, they boarded a canal boat for the trip to Fort Wayne, their first stop in the state of Indiana. 5
In 1841 Indiana had already been a state for twenty-five years. More important, though, for the future of Holy Cross, only four years before, in 1837, the Native American tribes had been removed from their lands in the northern part of the state by the federal government. The territory in the northern and northwestern parts of Indiana was then opened to settlement, and a stream of people from the eastern states and Europe was beginning to find its way onto this fertile land. In 1841 the entire state plus eastern Illinois as well, including the growing town of Chicago, was under the jurisdiction of the bishop of Vincennes. When the Holy Cross missionaries arrived in Fort Wayne on October 1, 1841, the bishop of Vincennes had approximately twenty-five priests, one-quarter of them French missionaries like himself, to serve the scattered Catholic population of this vast territory, one-fifth the size of France. 6 The brothers and Sorin lodged in Fort Wayne with Joseph Hamion, one of two priests resident in northeastern Indiana.
From Fort Wayne, the seven Frenchmen pushed on overland to Logansport on the Wabash River, where they were given food and shelter by Augustin Martin, a Breton priest who had come to America only two years before and who knew both Father Moreau and Brother Vincent. At Logansport, the missionaries boarded a riverboat for the trip downstream to Vincennes. Finally, on Sunday, October 10, just after dawn, the travelers reached Vincennes. They had been en route for sixty-seven days since leaving Le Mans. They made their way from the river up to the cathedral, presented themselves to the bishop, and when Sorin had finished celebrating Mass, they sang the Te Deum in thanksgiving for their safe arrival.
The bishop who received these first Holy Cross missionaries to North America in the autumn of 1841 was Célestin Guynemer de la Hailandière. 7 Born in Brittany, he had been a young lawyer in Rennes when he chanced to hear a French missionary from the United States speak about the need for priests in that new nation. Hailandière thereupon discerned his calling, left the practice of the law, and entered a seminary. Upon his ordination in 1836, he offered himself to the missionary who had been instrumental in his vocation, Simon Bruté de Remur, the first bishop of Vincennes, Indiana. Hailandière’s talents and legal training made him a logical choice for vicar general in the new diocese. While on a visit to France in 1839 to collect money and to recruit workers for the diocese, Hailandière received word from Rome that Bishop Bruté had requested his appointment as coadjutor bishop with the right of succession.
Overwhelmed by the prospect of shouldering this heavy burden, Hailandière was at first inclined to refuse. However, after consulting Gabriel Mollevaut, the Sulpician priest who served as his spiritual director, Hailandière decided to see the will of God in this appointment, and he accepted it. One month later, while still in France, Hailandière received word that Bishop Bruté had died and that he was the new bishop of Vincennes. He returned to Mollevaut for consolation and advice and, among other things, the aged spiritual director suggested to the new bishop that he go to Le Mans where another of Mollevaut’s spiritual sons, Basile Moreau, was in the process of founding a religious community. Perhaps Moreau could alleviate the personnel needs of the new bishop’s diocese on the American frontier. 8
It was thus that Hailandière made his way to Sainte-Croix in August 1839, the first of many prelates from beyond the oceans to do so. He was not, however, the first to whom Moreau gave help. Though sympathetic, Moreau replied that he had no one to send and promised only to keep Indiana in mind. Later in 1839, Bishop Dupuch of Algiers came to Sainte-Croix in order to send men abroad to his diocese in the new French colony in North Africa. 9 Moreau had already promised to aid him, and a contingent of brothers and priests left for Algeria in May 1840. In June 1842, with one of their number dead, an argument with the bishop, and the foundation unable to sustain itself, this first overseas mission of Holy Cross had been temporarily suspended, and the missionaries recalled to France. By then, the founder of Holy Cross had already sent a colony of his religious to the United States.
Bishop Hailandière had come to Sainte-Croix seeking brothers to organize schools for the children of his diocese. By the summer of 1841, Moreau had a group of six brothers ready to go to Indiana. The eldest among them was Brother Vincent Pieau, forty-four, who had joined the Brothers of St. Joseph in 1821 and had endured all the years of trial when Dujarié’s community first flourished, then almost disbanded, and then revived under Moreau’s leadership. Three of the brothers, Joachim André, thirty-two, Lawrence Ménage, twenty-six, and Marie Patois, twenty-one, who later changed his name to Francis Xavier, had finished their novitiate and professed vows only a few days before leaving for North America. The other two, Brothers Anselm Caillot, sixteen, and Gatien Monsimer, fifteen, were still novices when the group set out from Sainte-Croix on August 5, 1841, the feast of Our Lady of the Snows. 10
Moreau appears to have carefully chosen the members of this group so that the new foundation might be as self-reliant as possible. Brother Vincent was a licensed teacher and had been the first director of the Institut Notre-Dame de Sainte-Croix in 1836. He had also served on Moreau’s council as he had done for Dujarié before 1835. Brother Lawrence was a farmer while Joachim, who died in 1844, was a tailor, and Francis Xavier was a carpenter. The two younger men would serve as teachers, and Hailandière appears to have wanted them because he believed that young people would learn English more quickly. As it was the practice in the young Congregation for priests to be the major superiors, Moreau appointed Sorin, who was twenty-seven years old, three years ordained, and had entered Holy Cross only two years prior, in 1839, to lead the contingent that he was sending out to the forests of Indiana.
The seventh of nine children born to a prosperous Breton family in Ahuillé, a village about sixty miles west of Le Mans, Edouard Sorin de la Gaulterie belonged to the rural gentry who were accustomed to playing a commanding role in the affairs of the French countryside. 11 Sorin was also chosen for his skills. While he was by all accounts a charming and vigorous person who had real talents for leadership, Sorin also appears to have been one of those people who assume that they should be in charge and proceed accordingly. From the time that Moreau appointed him to lead the expedition to Indiana, Sorin was always in a position of authority in the Congregation of Holy Cross. For the last twenty-five years of his life, he served as superior general.
The prospect of being a missionary attracted Sorin early in life. He once claimed that after God, he owed his vocation to Bishop Bruté, whom he had heard speak while a student in the seminary at Le Mans. Six months before leaving for Indiana he wrote to Bishop Hailandière, “My body is in France; but my mind and heart are with you. . . . I live only for my dear brethren of America. That is my country, the center of all my affections and the object of all my pious thoughts.” 12 These sentiments would prove to be more true than Sorin could have known at the time.
The day after the missionaries arrived, Bishop Hailandière began to show Sorin various sites near Vincennes, where the brothers might locate. Sorin selected Black Oak Ridge near St. Peter’s Colony, a predominantly Catholic settlement twenty-seven miles east of Vincennes in Daviess County, Indiana. By the end of the week, the brothers had moved into two log buildings and had taken charge of a school begun some years before by the Sisters of Charity from Nazareth, Kentucky. 13

When the brothers arrived at St. Peter’s, they found the school under the leadership of Charles Rother, a young man who wanted to join their community and had been sent there by the bishop to await their arrival. The recruitment of candidates for the Congregation in the United States thus began immediately. In early November 1841, Rother received the habit and the name Brother Joseph. He began his novitiate, and three others were accepted as postulants. Less than a year later, in August 1842, eight received the habit as novices and three more were accepted as postulants. 14
While the number of new candidates was impressive, there were serious problems with their formation. Brother Vincent was the only one of the original band of brothers who had spent more than a year in the Congregation and had any experience of religious life. Moreau had sent him to America to direct the brothers’ novitiate. When the bishop insisted that Vincent return to Vincennes in December 1841 to conduct a school for the French-speaking children of the town, the novitiate was left in the hands of brothers, who themselves had lived the religious life for scarcely more than a year. Sorin, as the parish priest, was engaged for most of the week in visiting the scattered Catholic families. Moreover, while the brothers from Sainte-Croix struggled to learn English, many of their recruits spoke neither French nor English but German. 15 Sorin confessed to Moreau: “It is almost necessary for us to make the exercises in three different languages at the same time or that the Holy Spirit repeat the miracle of Pentecost.” 16 What effect all this had on the formation of these first American novices can only be surmised.
How to train the numerous candidates who were coming to join them was only one of the concerns facing the brothers. Father Moreau and Bishop Hailandière had not made a written contract about the brothers, and the bishop took the position that they had been given to him to be the nucleus of a diocesan congregation directly under his authority. Moreau insisted that the seven men who had come from France in 1841 and any other religious of Holy Cross, either men or women, who might subsequently join the original contingent should remain dependent upon the motherhouse at Sainte-Croix. 17 Financial considerations were crucial in determining that this first American foundation would continue to be part of the larger Congregation of Holy Cross and not become an autonomous community. When he had first come to Le Mans in 1839, Bishop Hailandière had promised to pay for the missionaries’ travel expenses to Indiana. When he was presented with the bill, the bishop said that although he had the money in 1839, he no longer had it in 1841. 18 Moreau had held a lottery in Le Mans to raise money for the missionaries’ passage. When the bishop was unable to support the growing community at St. Peter’s, Moreau sent additional funds from France. He also sent Hailandière a letter saying that the Holy Cross religious in Indiana would remain dependent on Sainte-Croix so that the bishop would have the advantage of their labor without having to support them. Moreau also promised not to remove the Congregation from Hailandière’s diocese “so long as they will be able to live there.” 19

During the spring and early summer of 1842, the brothers had been busy cutting timber, baking bricks, and gathering stones for the buildings that they intended to erect at Black Oak Ridge to house the boarding school they were planning to open. Their plans ran afoul of the bishop’s promise to the Eudists, another congregation that he had recruited for his diocese. Hailandière had given the Eudists his word that if they established a college in Vincennes, he would not permit the creation of another college under Catholic auspices nearby that might compete for students. Bishop Hailandière was unyielding on this point, and when Sorin pressed the issue, the bishop offered a compromise. 20
Hailandière held title to a piece of property in northern Indiana. If the Holy Cross religious would establish within two years a novitiate for the brothers and a secondary school, or collège, on the French model, they could have the land. The offer was accepted and in early November 1842, Sorin and seven brothers—Francis Xavier and Gatien from the original band that came from France and five novices, Peter Tully, Francis Disser, Patrick Connelly, William O’Sullivan, and Basil O’Neil—set out for the north. 21 They had three hundred dollars from the bishop and a letter of credit to a Mr. Coquillard, a merchant in the trading center of South Bend, a few miles from the property. 22 By thus putting more than 250 miles between themselves and Bishop Hailandière, the Holy Cross religious were able to establish their independence of the bishop’s direct control in fact, if not in the bishop’s mind.
The land that the Holy Cross missionaries received from Bishop Hailandière had been given to him by Stephen Badin, the first priest ordained in the United States. After his ordination in 1793, Badin had spent the next twenty-six years of his life on the western frontier, in Kentucky and the territory north of the Ohio River. In 1819 he had retired to France, but he had come out of retirement in 1828 at the age of sixty, had returned to North America, and had offered his services to the bishop of Detroit. In 1831 he had been sent to serve the Potawatomi Indians in southwestern Michigan and northern Indiana, a tribe first evangelized by Jesuit missionaries in the seventeenth century. 23
By 1833 Badin had purchased the 524 acres with the intention of opening an orphanage for the children of the Potawatomi Indians and the settlers. In 1835 Badin retired to Cincinnati, but the Potawatomi continued to be served by resident priests until 1838 when the newly ordained pastor, Benjamin Petit, twenty-six, died in St. Louis after accompanying the tribe to Kansas where the U.S. Government had forced them onto a reservation. Badin had deeded the land to the bishop of Vincennes who had offered it to Holy Cross. 24
Sorin, Brothers Gatien and Francis Xavier, and the five American novices arrived at the northern property on November 26, 1842, and lived through the winter of 1842 and 1843 in some rude log buildings that they found standing on the land, one of which had been used as a chapel. On the property were two lakes connected by a marsh. Looking out over the frozen lakes and the snow-covered landscape, Sorin had dedicated both the property and their undertaking to Mary, the Mother of God. The place would thereafter be known as Notre Dame du Lac. 25
When Father Étienne Chartier, a Canadian-born priest and novice who had been serving as the brothers’ chaplain, quarreled with Bishop Hailandière and left the diocese in February 1843, Brothers Vincent, Lawrence, and Joachim took their six novices and two postulants and left St. Peter’s Colony for the north where they arrived after a two-week trek in midwinter. Brother Anselm and Brother Celestine, a novice, stayed behind in Vincennes to teach in the bishop’s school. Thus, by the spring of 1843, nineteen Holy Cross men were living at Notre Dame du Lac. 26
The construction of larger and more permanent buildings was imperative, and in the spring and summer of 1843, a two-story brick house was erected near the log chapel, and a larger building was begun which was occupied in January 1844. During the summer, two priests, a seminarian, a brother, and four sisters arrived from Sainte-Croix, sent by Moreau to reinforce the American Holy Cross colony. A larger wooden church building had also been erected in the spring of 1843, and a second story was added to provide living quarters for the sisters. In the autumn, the boarding school received its first students. 27
Soon after their arrival at Notre Dame du Lac, the community began to receive orphans sent by Catholics on the frontier. A manual trade school was opened so that the boys could earn a living as adults. 28 The character of the foundation was further altered when the local member of the Indiana State Legislature offered to procure a charter from that body establishing the boarding school as a university with the right to grant degrees. Sorin was agreeable, and in 1844 the legislature granted the charter. Thus began the University of Notre Dame du Lac, only the third Catholic school in the United States to be legally incorporated. 29
Sisters Mary of the Heart of Jesus, nineteen, Mary of Calvary, twenty-five, Mary of Bethlehem, forty-five, and Mary of Nazareth, twenty-one, the four sisters who arrived at Notre Dame du Lac from France in the summer of 1843, 30 found the place poor beyond belief. However, once they got over the initial shock, they plunged into the round of domestic duties that they had been sent to provide: cooking, cleaning, care of the sick, washing and repairing the clothing of brothers, priests, and students, and tending the dairy cows. Despite the rigors of the sisters’ life, three Irish girls asked to join them during their first year in the United States, and it became necessary to open a novitiate.

Bishop Hailandière had already invited Dujarié’s Sisters of Providence from Ruillé to establish themselves in his diocese, and they had done so in 1840 at Terre Haute in west central Indiana, some two hundred miles from Notre Dame du Lac. The bishop did not think that his poor diocese could support two religious communities of women. When Sorin petitioned for permission to open a novitiate at Notre Dame for women who wanted to join the Marianites, Hailandière refused and told Sorin to send candidates to Terre Haute. Fearing that any candidates sent to Terre Haute would be absorbed by the Sisters of Providence and come under the bishop’s control, the resourceful Sorin found an alternative for a novitiate for the Marianites. Four miles north of Notre Dame was the boundary between the states of Indiana and Michigan, and one mile farther north was the village of Bertrand, where Holy Cross priests served several Catholic families and a small church. Since Michigan was in the diocese of Detroit, Sorin asked Bishop Lefèvre, the administrator of that diocese, whether he might establish a novitiate for the Marianites at Bertrand. Lefèvre readily consented, but when Hailandière heard about it, he protested, and the permission was rescinded. Sorin made a hurried visit to Detroit, where he met Bishop Purcell of Cincinnati, who was visiting the city, and the two of them persuaded Lefèvre to allow Sorin to establish the novitiate at Bertrand. 31
In July 1844, the novitiate opened in a rented house, and in the following month, the first three candidates from the United States received the habit as Marianite Sisters of Holy Cross. In October, three more sisters arrived from France. In December, two of the French women, Sister Mary of the Five Wounds (Paillet) and Sister Bethlehem professed their vows, the first women in the Congregation to do so in North America. Candidates from the vicinity continued to come so that by the end of 1845, there were fourteen Marianites in the new American foundation. 32
As with most people on the American frontier in the 1840s, life for the Holy Cross women was a continuous round of work. In good weather, the postulants and novices at Bertrand walked the five miles to Notre Dame to do the laundry for the staff and students. In bad weather a cart was sent for them. Provisions were sent by wagon to Bertrand from Notre Dame. In winter, the bread was often frozen when it arrived. 33
By the end of 1844, within the first six months of their moving to Bertrand, the sisters began to do something more than the domestic services, for which they had been founded. They opened a school in their house in Bertrand, which was attended by eight orphans and a few day students from the neighborhood. By December of that year, two sisters had been sent to the Potawatomi Indian mission at Pokagon, Michigan, seventeen miles north of Bertrand, near the village of Dowagiac. For the next seven years, the sisters served in Pokagon as teachers and catechists for the descendants of the first Catholics in the area. 34
In 1848 St. Mary’s Academy, as it came to be called, began in earnest in Bertrand. A prospectus published in 1850 advertised the school’s proximity to such centers of population as Detroit and Chicago, and the completion of a railroad in 1851 made this claim a reality. In January 1851, the State of Michigan granted a charter to St. Mary’s, and in that same year several sisters were sent to a convent in Loretto, Kentucky, for training in music and painting. 35
By the early 1850s, however, Sorin’s relations with the bishop of Detroit had become strained, and he began to think of relocating the sisters from Michigan to Indiana, where a new bishop in Vincennes lodged no objections. In 1854 Sorin moved the sisters’ novitiate from Bertrand to Notre Dame. Finally, in 1855, with the help of a generous donation from the family of Sister Mary of St. Angela, the most prominent of the American-born sisters, Sorin was able to purchase 185 acres of land on a high bluff along the St. Joseph River, less than a mile west of Notre Dame. In June 1855, St. Mary’s Academy in Bertrand was closed and reestablished on the new property. In time this would become St. Mary’s College and the motherhouse of the Sisters of the Holy Cross. 36
The original band of Holy Cross missionaries in the diocese of Vincennes had settled in northern Indiana in 1842 in order to open a school. What they created over the next decade was a center that served the Catholic families within approximately a hundred-mile radius of Notre Dame du Lac. Children, both boys and girls, were sent to Notre Dame and Bertrand for an education, and orphans were received and cared for at both sites. Young men and women who wished to devote themselves to religious life were trained and sent out on missions from these centers. When the number of Catholic families in a location warranted it, schools were established in outlying places such as St. John’s in Lake County, Laporte, and Michigan City in Indiana. In addition to teaching at the “university,” the Holy Cross priests continued to serve as Auxiliary Priests, riding a circuit through northern Indiana and southwestern Michigan, providing a sacramental ministry and organizing the Catholics into parish communities. 37
The Catholics in and around the village of South Bend were not forgotten. Once the Congregation had settled at Notre Dame, local Catholics could come to the university church for Mass and sacraments. In 1853, a brick structure, twenty-two by forty feet, was erected in Lowell on the east side of the St. Joseph River. First known as St. Alexius, the building housed both a chapel and a school. Priests from Notre Dame tended the chapel and the Marianites taught at the school. In 1868 a new church dedicated to St. Joseph was constructed, and Father Julius Frere, forty-eight, became the first resident pastor. There were forty-seven families and a total of 210 members in the parish. 38
For the Catholics on the west side of the St. Joseph River, a brick church sixty by thirty feet with a seating capacity of 350 was erected in 1859. Father Thomas Carroll, twenty-three, resided at Notre Dame and served the 1,250 Catholics in the area. Father Peter Cooney became the first resident pastor in 1865. A school was opened with the Marianite Sisters serving as teachers. 39

All the while that this development was going on at Notre Dame, Sorin’s relationship with Bishop Hailandière was deteriorating, a situation relieved only with the bishop’s resignation and return to France in 1847. The question of whether the brothers were to be a diocesan congregation or were to depend on Sainte-Croix was settled in February 1845 when Hailandière visited Le Mans and made a written agreement with Moreau. While the bishop conceded the brothers’ dependence on Sainte-Croix, Moreau agreed that the brothers would take no school outside of the diocese of Vincennes without the written permission of the bishop. Maintaining that the brothers could more easily recruit new members to teach in the parish schools of the diocese if they were more centrally located, Hailandière insisted that the Congregation move the brothers’ novitiate to Indianapolis, the state capital, and promised to help defray the expenses. The move was made in 1847, but the bishop was not able to follow through financially. The novitiate had to be moved back to Notre Dame before the end of the year. 40
Meanwhile, matters had come to such a pass between Sorin and Hailandière by the end of 1845 that it seemed to Sorin that the bishop might expel the Congregation from his diocese. When a certain Father Delaune, a French missionary and a friend of Sorin’s, informed Sorin that the Jesuits were about to withdraw from a college that they had founded in central Kentucky near Lebanon in Marion County, Sorin was receptive to Delaune’s suggestion that he take it over. With his customary enthusiasm, Sorin foresaw the Brothers of St. Joseph being adopted by all the dioceses of the United States and the Kentucky college as a more central location for the brothers’ novitiate. In January 1846, the coadjutor bishop of Louisville, Guy Chabrat, wrote to Sorin and offered him the direction of the Jesuits’ school, St. Mary’s College. 41
Sorin had been summoned to the chapter of the Auxiliary Priests at Sainte-Croix in the summer of 1846 to report on the North American mission and to answer for some of his unauthorized financial transactions, primarily debts incurred. He laid before the chapter the proposal to take over the Kentucky college, but was told to make no commitment unless the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, alay association in Lyons, France, that supported foreign missions, should offer a subsidy of 20,000 francs. Moreau wrote to Delaune and informed him of this decision.
Although the condition that Moreau had set was not fulfilled, Delaune either persuaded himself or was persuaded by Sorin that such a promising opportunity could not be allowed to slip away. Delaune was authorized by Sorin to borrow money to buy furniture for the college and to purchase the Jesuits’ property. He announced that St. Mary’s would open under his direction in September 1846. By December of that year, with his debts weighing heavily upon him and lacking the personnel that he had counted on Sorin to provide, Delaune was desperate. Ignoring the fact that the subsidy had been a condition of Holy Cross participation, Delaune complained that Moreau had promised help but had not given it.
With the subsidy still not granted but in order to extricate the Congregation from Kentucky with its reputation intact, Moreau and his council agreed in April 1847 to send a priest and a brother to assist Delaune in the administration of the college. 42 In September, Sorin sent four sisters to work at the Kentucky institution. Augustin Saunier, the priest, proved to be a poor choice for the delicate task at hand. Once on the scene, he presumed to act in the name of Sainte-Croix and Sorin, and even had the title to the college property transferred to himself. Moreau and his council repudiated these arrangements in January 1848 when they were informed of them. A short time later, Sorin, on his own initiative, offered to take over the college and to provide a full staff for the fall of 1848. Fortunately for Holy Cross, the Jesuits decided to return to St. Mary’s, and Sorin’s offer was rejected by the bishop of Louisville. Thus, the Kentucky affair ended with the Congregation in bad repute with the Louisville diocesan authorities, who were highly critical of Sorin. 43
While Saunier and Brother Théodule withdrew from Kentucky in 1848, the former to join the Jesuits, the four sisters were allowed to stay on as a conciliatory gesture to Bishop Flaget of Louisville. 44 Their mail, however, was kept from them by the priest in charge of the college to prevent their removal and the college’s loss of their invaluable services. It was only late in the year that Father Drouelle, in the course of an official visitation to the North American foundations, inquired at Notre Dame about the four sisters and was told that they were still in Kentucky. He went to see them and reestablished contact. In April 1849, they were spirited away from St. Mary’s by Brother Théodule, who took them in a wagon by back roads to Louisville, lest the diocesan authorities intervene to prevent their leaving. Once in the city, Brother Théodule and three of the sisters boarded a steamboat for their new assignment in New Orleans while the other sister was accompanied back to Notre Dame by Father Granger, who had been sent for that purpose. 45
Leaving Notre Dame, Drouelle descended the Mississippi River by steamboat to New Orleans, where he was to take ship for Guadeloupe. While in the city, he paid a courtesy call on Bishop Antoine Blanc, one of the many French missionaries serving the Catholic Church in the United States. Blanc took advantage of the visit to propose to Drouelle that the Congregation of Holy Cross take over an orphanage in New Orleans founded some thirteen years before by an Irish priest who had since died. The orphanage, St. Mary’s Asylum, was adequately endowed, but the directors were having trouble finding and retaining a competent staff. The bishop hoped that by putting the institution in the hands of a religious community a stable, continuous administration might be secured.

Blanc pressed Drouelle for a decision, and perhaps because of the greater distance to France, Drouelle contacted Sorin rather than Moreau about the bishop’s proposal. Sorin agreed to take over the direction of the orphanage and on May 1, 1849, five brothers from Notre Dame under the leadership of Brother Vincent and three of the sisters from the Kentucky foundation arrived in New Orleans to take over the operation of St. Mary’s Asylum. 46
New Orleans was almost a thousand miles from Notre Dame du Lac. Founded by the French in the eighteenth century, the city was a bustling port with a population of approximately fifty thousand in 1849. It was also the center of a large Catholic population in southern Louisiana with ten parishes and twenty-one priests. Situated on the Mississippi River, New Orleans reaped both the advantages and the disadvantages of its location. Every year the river overflowed its banks and flooded the surrounding countryside. In the wake of the flooding came diseases such as cholera, malaria, and yellow fever, which ravaged the population from time to time. The frequent epidemics left many widows and orphans, and when the Holy Cross religious arrived, they found ninety-three boys in St. Mary’s Asylum. There were 120 by the end of December. 47
The first months in New Orleans were very difficult. In spite of a state subsidy and several legacies, the orphanage had been so poorly administered that it had forfeited the support and interest of the public. Had it not been for the generosity of the Ursuline Sisters, both the orphans and the Holy Cross brothers and sisters might have starved in 1849. Brother Vincent took to making the rounds of the city’s hotels with a cart in which he collected the leftover food of the previous day. Willingly given by these institutions, the collection was hastily thrown into large sacks and often included fruit skins, cigar stubs, and an occasional knife, fork, or dish towel. 48
The witness of selfless service by the Holy Cross religious and the return of order to the affairs of the orphanage brought a renewal of public support. Benefactors came forward to provide the operating expenses of St. Mary’s, and by the spring of 1850, a new convent, separate from the orphans’ quarters, had been constructed for the sisters. The number of children also increased rapidly. There were 120 in 1850, 200 the following year, and in 1859, on the eve of the Civil War, there were 300 boys at St. Mary’s Asylum. 49
Since another institution in New Orleans looked after young girls who had lost their parents, all the children at St. Mary’s were boys. Before long, however, the sisters became aware that many teenage girls, who were too old to be admitted to the girls’ orphanage, were left on their own in the city when they became homeless. One of the sisters, Mary of the Five Wounds Paillet, proposed to open an industrial school where these girls could live and learn sewing or some other skill, whereby they might support themselves. Both Blanc, now the archbishop of New Orleans, and Moreau approved the experiment, and by the end of 1851, it was underway. The first year of operation was so successful that larger premises had to be found the following year to house the girls. 50
A satisfactory financial base for the Holy Cross foundation in New Orleans had scarcely been established, however, when disease threatened to undo what had been accomplished. In 1852 a cholera epidemic struck the city. Fifty boys at the asylum and two brothers died of the disease. The following year, 1853, it was yellow fever that attacked, carrying off several children, three of the brothers, and a sister. 51 Moreau determined to carry on the work that Holy Cross had undertaken in Louisiana and appealed to the Congregation:
This . . . shows how sorely these unfortunates need our prayers and the assistance of new apostles, not only for our own houses, but for the entire city of New Orleans. . . . Pray too for those whom obedience will assign to this dangerous post, and more than ever before, try to be worthy of your vocation. 52
Later that year, the Holy Cross community in Louisiana was reinforced by additional Holy Cross religious from France. 53
As if death, sickness, and fiscal uncertainty were not trials enough, the New Orleans foundation was plagued in its early years by a problem of governance caused by Sorin’s growing hostility to the authority of the general administration of the Congregation in France. Within a few months of the arrival of the first contingent of Holy Cross religious in New Orleans, Brother Vincent was writing to Sorin pleading for a priest who could act as the foundation’s superior and provide Mass and the sacraments to the community. At the end of 1849, there were in the United States only five priests in the Congregation, including Sorin. Sorin finally consented to send François Gouësse who had come from France in 1843 as a seminarian and had been ordained in 1847 by Hailandière. Sorin neither liked nor trusted Gouësse. The latter was dispatched from Notre Dame to New Orleans not as superior of the Louisiana foundation but as canonical visitor, authorized to examine and inquire into the affairs of the local community and to report back to Sorin, but with no permanent authority. 54
Gouësse arrived in February 1850, bringing with him two more sisters. He served the brothers, sisters, and orphans as their chaplain well enough to win the confidence of Archbishop Blanc. Since the visit could not go on indefinitely, and Sorin would not change Gouësse’s status, the general chapter of the Congregation intervened and appointed Gouësse as the local superior with a minor chapter, or council, to advise and assist him. 55 Knowing of Sorin’s dislike for Gouësse, Moreau hastened to assure the superior at Notre Dame that the Louisiana foundation would continue to depend on Indiana for visitation and approval for the profession of new members. Any financial surplus resulting from the foundation would also belong to Sorin. 56

Sorin was indignant at what he considered to be the usurpation by the mother house of his authority. In January 1851, he wrote to Blanc to inform him that Gouësse was unworthy to serve as superior and that he had, in fact, been expelled from the Congregation in the United States by the minor chapter at Notre Dame. Although the archbishop replied that he found Gouësse acceptable, Sorin sent Father François Cointet to New Orleans in June 1851 to take over as superior. Gouësse returned to France. 57
When the general chapter of the Congregation met at Sainte-Croix in August 1851, it censured Sorin for changing the assignment of religious without authorization, for sending four brothers to dig for gold in California, and for expelling Gouësse. The chapter decreed that henceforth the New Orleans foundation would depend directly on the motherhouse together with any surplus funds that it might generate. Sorin was left only with the right to send a visitor. The chapter further exercised its authority by sending Gouësse back to New Orleans to work for the archbishop. 58
Sorin had declined to attend the general chapter, but in light of its decisions, he traveled to France in December 1851 to plead his case personally with Moreau and the general council. A reconciliation appears to have been effected between Sorin and Moreau and his council. 59 Then, in September 1852, Sorin was named by Moreau to head the band of missionaries that would establish a foundation in India. Cointet, his health permitting, was assigned to accompany Sorin. Gouësse was again assigned as superior in New Orleans. Sorin, however, refused to go to India and threatened to lead Notre Dame and the foundations that depended on it in secession from the Congregation. 60
In December 1852, Sorin came to Louisiana and denounced Gouësse, who was back in New Orleans, to Archbishop Blanc and before the local community. When he failed to persuade them that Gouësse should not be recognized as the local superior, Sorin reorganized the local chapters and reassigned those sisters whom he considered too loyal to the motherhouse. When he left for Indiana in December, Sorin allegedly took with him all the cash on hand. 61
With Gouësse as superior, the New Orleans community was ravaged by disease in the summer of 1853. Three brothers and one of the sisters died. Sorin, meanwhile, after threatening secession throughout the year, finally accepted the assignment to India and left for France in October 1853. By then, another priest had been assigned as superior of the mission to India, and Sorin, after making his submission to Moreau, was sent back to Notre Dame as superior. Moreau apparently decided that it was now possible to reassign Gouësse without appearing to have given in to Sorin. 62
Father Julien Gastineau was sent from Sainte-Croix as the new superior in New Orleans, and he arrived in late March of 1854. Two weeks later, he resigned and left for the Congregation’s houses in Canada. Peter Salmon, another priest who had come with Gastineau from France, then took over as superior. Although he did not speak English, Salmon was managing well enough when he died suddenly in September 1854. Sorin had promised to send Cointet back to New Orleans, but Cointet, too, died in September 1854 of cholera, which had reached epidemic proportions at Notre Dame that summer. Gouësse, who had remained in New Orleans at Archbishop Blanc’s request, took over once again until other arrangements could be made. In December 1854, Gouësse returned to France, where he was dismissed from the Congregation by Moreau the following April. 63
With no other Holy Cross priest in New Orleans, the direction of St. Mary’s Asylum was confided to Gilbert Raymond, a Sulpician priest from Angers who was known to Moreau. He promptly wrote to Moreau, urging him to save the Congregation’s foundation in Louisiana. Raymond’s reports appear to have been decisive in persuading Moreau and his council in Sainte-Croix to keep the houses in New Orleans. In January 1855, they decided that a new superior would be sent from France and that Sorin would be ordered to provide a priest to serve as assistant superior. Moreover, as soon as circumstances permitted, the houses in Louisiana would be erected as a province, an administrative division of the Congregation, directly responsible to Sainte-Croix, and on an equal footing with the houses in Canada and those that depended on Notre Dame. 64
The priest chosen to be the superior of the New Orleans foundation at this crucial juncture in its history was Isidore Guesdon, thirty years old and not quite two years professed. He arrived in Louisiana in April or May of 1855 and set to work immediately to restore order and regularity in the local community and to revive the confidence of the brothers and sisters working there. He is remembered as having achieved much in a short time. However, 1855 was a bad year for sickness, with cholera again reaching epidemic proportions in the summer and yellow fever in the fall. Guesdon fell victim to the latter and died on September 18, the same day that documents arrived from France authorizing the establishment of the Province of Louisiana with himself as the first provincial superior. 65
Sorin had sent a young Irish priest, Michael Rooney, to be assistant superior in New Orleans as he had been instructed to do, but Rooney and seven religious had left New Orleans after Guesdon had arrived. With no one in France whom he might send to replace Guesdon, Moreau now had to turn to Sorin. Reluctantly, Moreau gave Sorin authority over Louisiana again and asked him to send a superior. With no priests to spare, Sorin sent two brothers and three sisters as visitors to the Louisiana houses. They arrived in November and were coolly received. They questioned but did not prevent the profession of novices and the conferring of the habit that had already been approved by Moreau without reference to Sorin, whom he had authorized to give approval. When they left, they presented a bill for $500 to reimburse their travel expenses as well as those of Gastineau and Rooney. The year 1855 ended as had the previous year with Father Raymond reporting to Sainte-Croix all that had happened and urging Moreau to save his foundation in New Orleans. 66

Through the intervention of Archbishop Blanc, the visitors from Indiana were sent back, and Father Raymond took over again as director of St. Mary’s Asylum, a charge that he appears to have held throughout 1856. By year’s end, Moreau had a priest to send to New Orleans as superior. Patrick Sheil, thirty-seven, born in Ireland, had entered the Congregation in France and made his novitiate at Sainte-Croix. After profession, he had completed his theological studies in Rome and had returned to Le Mans in August 1856. He had the advantage of speaking English before he came to the United States. Moreau now turned to him to rescue the foundation in Louisiana. 67
Arriving in New Orleans at the beginning of 1857, Sheil set out to organize the Congregation’s ministry in Louisiana. In March 1857, the Congregation was legally incorporated in the state of Louisiana with Sheil as president of the corporation. By the end of the year the sisters had opened an academy in New Orleans and two schools outside the city, in Plaquemine and Opelousas, Louisiana. A novitiate for the sisters had been started in New Orleans in 1855 with two novices. The following year, seven young women received the habit, and thereafter the number of American-born sisters among the Louisiana Marianites grew steadily. It was Sheil who shepherded the community through the Civil War years between 1861 and 1865 when first the blockade and then the occupation of New Orleans by federal forces made the life and work of the community difficult. When Sheil died during a visit to Ireland in 1867, the Marianite Sisters, by then an autonomous congregation, had put down firm roots in Louisiana. 68
The conflict between Sorin and Sainte-Croix over the control of the houses in Louisiana had other consequences besides those already described. Sister Mary of the Five Wounds who had organized the successful industrial school for girls in New Orleans was assigned to assist several families of French descent in New York City to open a similar school there. The project had the support of Archbishop Hughes of New York and the pastor of the French parish in Manhattan. In September 1855, Sister Mary of the Five Wounds, together with Marianites from Canada and Louisiana, opened a convent in New York City. In January 1856, two more Marianites arrived from France. They soon accepted postulants and established a novitiate. The school opened and quickly prospered. There was talk of the priests of Holy Cross taking over the French parish and of brothers being sent to operate a farm near the city. 69
The Congregation’s contract with the Archdiocese of New York stated that the foundation was to be under the immediate authority of the motherhouse in France. Moreau, however, was again at odds with Sorin over the control of the Louisiana houses. Not wishing to exacerbate further the situation, Moreau altered the terms of the contract to read that Sainte-Croix would exercise its authority “through the intermediary of the Provincial of Notre Dame du Lac.” When Archbishop Hughes refused to accept Sorin as an intermediary, Sorin invoked the jurisdiction given him by Moreau and dispatched Sister Mary of St. Angela to New York City in October 1856 with orders to close the house. The boarders, some of them orphans, were sent home to parents or guardians. The professed sisters, several novices, and twelve postulants received orders to report either to Susquehanna, Pennsylvania, a village in the northeastern part of the state, or to Philadelphia, where sisters from Indiana had opened houses. The furniture was sold or moved to one of the Pennsylvania houses. Thus ended, for the time being, the Marianites’ presence in New York. 70

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