When he founded the Congregation of Holy Cross in 1837, Father Basile Moreau opened the door to a wide range of missionary engagements. ln 1840, he responded to the requests of an Algerian bishop; the next year, he established a new team to support the work of the Church in the American Midwest. Six years later, in 1847, he accepted the invitation of the Bishop of Montréal, and sent a group of Sisters, Brothers and Priests to Quebec. ln 1850, he agreed to send a team to Rome to care for orphans. Finally, in 1852, he acquiesced to a request made by the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, and took on the difficult Bengal mission.
Father Moreau understood the challenges facing the Church. ln France, his native land, he saw the importance of educating and evangelizing the countryside after the French Revolution. ln America, what was needed was support for the efforts of a still fragile Church. ln Bengal, a Christian presence was needed in a land divided between Hindus and Muslims.
The development of these missionary projects was not without its difficulties. The religious were not yet very numerous, and it was often necessary to send the most promising of them off on the new missions. Money was scarce too; the religious set off as paupers, beginning their new missions with very limited means.
Some of Father Moreau’s collaborators criticized his actions, and encouraged him to be more prudent. But the founder had unshakeable faith. He knew that his work was the work of God, and that he needed to trust in Divine Providence. ln 1858, he was severely reproached for having accepted the difficult Bengal mission. He wrote: “To these criticisms, I answered what I will always answer in similar circumstances: it is my principle to ask for nothing with regards to the founding of missions, just as it is to refuse nothing that seems to indicate a plan of Providence.” Here, we find the missionary attitude that characterized him: a firm desire to meet the needs of the Church, and trust in Providence.
Brother André was a worthy son of Father Moreau. He was filled with this same conviction that God is able to use the instruments we are to build his Kingdom. Like Father Moreau, he persevered with his project in the certainty that it was the project of God.
Father Moreau was beatified on September 15, 2007. ln this anniversary of the beatification of Father Basile Moreau, the religious of Holy Cross reaffirm their commitment to continuing this mission at Saint Joseph’s Oratory as in the twenty-odd other countries where they carry out their work.