Basil Anthony Marie Moreau
Feast Day: January 20
Beatified: September 15, 2007
Venerated: April 12, 2003
Basil Moreau was born in 1799, near the end of the French Revolution, a conflict that lasted for ten years and during which time the Church was often suppressed. But Basil’s family was very religious. They prayed together as a family and attended Mass every week.
The Moreaus’ parish priest saw that Basil had a special love for the Lord. He encouraged Basil to study for the priesthood. Because so many priests had been killed during the French Revolution, the country was desperately in need of priests to celebrate the sacraments and to teach the people about Christ. After praying about this important decision, Basil was sure that his vocation, or calling, was to be a priest.
After being ordained, Father Moreau was assigned to teach at the seminary, where priests were trained. He also traveled to rural areas of his diocese to serve the communities that had no priests. Soon he had formed a group of priests who were willing to follow Basil’s example of ministering to the people who lived in the countryside. They gave parish missions, baptized new Catholics, and celebrated the Eucharist with people who rarely had the opportunity to receive the Body and Blood of Christ.
Soon, Father Moreau established a religious order for men called the Congregation of Holy Cross. Three years later, he founded a Holy Cross community for women. The mission of these communities is to help Catholics to renew their faith, to educate young people and those who have not yet heard the Good News, and to care for the poor and needy.
Today, the Congregation of Holy Cross ministers to people in more than 15 countries. They are still committed to the mission of Father Moreau, who died in 1873. Father Moreau is also credited with playing a key role in the founding of the University of Notre Dame and St. Mary’s College in Indiana.
The cause for the beatification of Father Basil Moreau was introduced in 1955, and he was beatified in 2007, so he is called “Blessed.” His life and work reminds us that learning and growing in our Catholic faith is a life-long responsibility that we all share.