The Blessed Basile Anthony Moreau, founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross, died in 1873, a quarter century before the foundation of the University. So he never served at the University of Portland, never even visited rain-rich Oregon. But of course the Holy Cross Brothers and Priests in our Residence Halls and classrooms and administration are his spiritual heirs.
A priest from the French countryside in the nineteenth century, Fr. Moreau’s life work was the creation of the Congregation of Holy Cross, which is a confederation of Consecrated Religious meant to proclaim the Gospel and influence the world all out of proportion to the numerical size of the community. How? By getting to work outside of the cloister. Moreau was a seminary professor, but he went throughout his district to preach parish missions and retreats. Early on he sent Holy Cross religious from France on missions to India, Africa, and the Americas. He was not impressed nor deterred by territorial borders.
Additional leaven came to the work from two multipliers: his Holy Cross religious would work and live side-by-side, and would work as educators. Side-by-side is a method or attitude pointing towards common and mutual activity, it means collaboration, shared life, a strength in numbers drawing others in. While education is the planting of seeds: “the particular goal of your institution is, above all, to sanctify youth. By this, you will contribute to preparing the world for better times than our own, for these children who today attend your school are the parents of the future and the parents of future generations”. (Christian Education, in Basil Moreau, Essential Writings (2014), p. 376).
Moreau’s work brought Holy Cross religious to Oregon in 1902. A work always breaking out of the classroom and into the world. A foundational ethos of reaching out that is today inscribed in lives at the University of Portland Moreau Center which coordinates student and faculty opportunities to serve local and international communities to improve the world through hope, compassion and solidarity.
Prints of the photographs decorate the 3rd floor corridor of Franz Hall outside the Holy Cross Lounge, Steven Scardina, photographer.