NOTRE DAME — Beginning this past August, Holy Cross College officially introduced a new program on its campus for young men contemplating the possibility of a call to religious life. Named in honor of the patron of the Brothers of Holy Cross, the St. Joseph House program offers students an opportunity to enter into the community and faith lives of the brothers in an intentional way.
Since its founding in 1966, the college has been under the leadership and direction of the Holy Cross Brothers, who uphold as their main charism the education and formation of young men and women. Blessed Basil Moreau, CSC, the founder of the congregation, highly emphasized the importance of cultivating both the mind and the heart of each student.
This education of the whole person is seen clearly through the emergence of the St. Joseph House program. Inspired by the example of the brothers living and working on campus at Holy Cross, in recent years students began to ask if it would be possible to join them for their daily prayer. From there, the idea of inviting young men to live within the community in a more official way started to develop.
After researching the formation program offered by St. Edward’s University, Holy Cross Brothers Jesus Alonso, Nich Perez, James Posluszny, Joe Umile and college President Brother John Paige realized that something similar could become a reality at Holy Cross.
Thanks to a generous gift of the Moreau Province of Brothers, the necessary renovations took place this summer to construct and expand a suitable living community on the second floor of Pulte Residence Hall to serve as the new pre-novitiate formation program.
Now integrated in the life of the brothers’ community, students living in the program attend and participate in morning and evening prayer, daily Mass and evening meals together. They also take part in a weekend retreat with the brothers at the beginning of each semester, attend monthly presentations focused on the Congregation of Holy Cross, help prepare meals for the community twice per month, and engage in daily “obediences” where each member of the house shares in the responsibility of the upkeep of the home. All these things provide for the student a glimpse into the life of a Holy Cross Brother living in common community on a daily basis.
Entrance into this program involves an application process. After submitting an application, students meet with the vocation director to discuss their interest in living in the community. Some students choose to apply on their own, while others are invited by the brothers to consider the program based on having demonstrated a serious desire to discerning the will of God for their lives.
Those who are accepted, because of their participation in the maintenance and upkeep of the home, receive a discounted rate for their room and board. All those currently in the program are invited to renew their commitment to living there on a semester-by-semester basis.
Part of the establishment of the new program included the construction of a new chapel, which Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades blessed on Oct. 1. It has been named the Brother André Chapel, after St. André Bessette, who was canonized in 2010 in recognition of his humility, hospitality, care of the poor and tremendous devotion to St. Joseph, through whose intercession he attributed many healings and miracles.
In his homily, Bishop Rhoades emphasized the importance of being men of prayer, remaining focused on Christ, growing in holiness and serving the Church through the example and intercession of Brother André.
“Where did Brother André receive the strength for his labors with people? It was in the chapel, in prayer,” Bishop Rhoades said. “He was ever conscious that he was a mere instrument of the Lord. I pray that here, in this chapel, you will continue to be formed, as Brother André was, as Holy Cross Brothers, in the school of the Gospel; the school of the Eucharist.”
Current students living in the community together have spoken highly of their experiences.
Sophomore Andrew Querciagrossa shared, “I was attracted to the opportunity to actively discern my vocation while at the same time living the life of a college student. I saw it as a chance to get to know the brothers both individually and as an order. This has happened especially during our common meals, which we share every day. The most attractive aspect of St. Joseph’s House to me is the fact that we have the Brother André Chapel right down the hall from our rooms and the common prayer we share every morning and evening.”
Jacob Eifrid, a graduate of Bishop Dwenger High School and parishioner of St. Vincent de Paul, Fort Wayne, echoed those sentiments: “In coming to the St. Joseph House, I sought to develop my prayer life and learn how to live in community with others, both of which I have been able to do here. The most important thing I’ve experienced in the program is the day-to-day life of the brothers. It has been inspiring to see that they are ordinary people, but who live extraordinary lives, which stem from their vows and commitment to prayer and community life.”
President Brother John Paige also enthusiastically shared his support for the new program: “By offering the opportunity for undergraduate students to live in community and experience religious life, St. Joseph House is helping foster a culture of vocations on the Holy Cross College campus. Do I approve of this move? Certainly! I am one of the religious who lives there in community with them.”
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