Exploring a Vocation

Undergraduates sign on for Moreau House and St. Joseph House programs

A funny thing happened when three Brothers of Holy Cross formed a community in Pulte Hall, an all-male residence at Holy Cross College, Notre Dame, IN, a few years ago. The chapel was in the middle of a busy hallway and when the Brothers came together for daily prayer, students living in the residence asked if they could join them.

“That initial question from students got the Brothers thinking,” said Bro. Chris Torrijas, C.S.C., who was director of residential life at Holy Cross College at the time. Soon after, a renovation transformed the second floor into a communal living space, and the St. Joseph House was established in 2014.

Five Brothers and four Aspirants, all undergraduates at Holy Cross College, live in the residence. “It’s a discernment house for young men who are deciding if a religious vocation is in their future,” explained Bro. Chris, who lives in the residence and is now formation director of the Moreau and Midwest provinces. The program is gaining notice and even incoming freshmen for the 2015-2016 school year have expressed interest in discerning a religious vocation.

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Most Reverend Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, IN, celebrated Mass and consecrated the St. Joseph House Chapel earlier this year.

The development of the St. Joseph House was inspired in part by Moreau House at St. Edward’s University. The three Brothers who formed the community (Bro. Nich Perez, C.S.C., Bro. John Paige, C.S.C. and Bro. Jesús Alonso, C.S.C.) once lived in Moreau House. Formed in 2001, the Moreau House community is a mixture of Brothers, candidates and St. Edward’s students interested in living a committed Christian life.

The programs are uniquely different. Moreau House, according to Bro. Larry Atkinson, C.S.C., assistant director of campus ministry at St. Edward’s, “is an opportunity for a student to experience religious life while having the full college experience.” Since its inception, an estimated 100 students have experienced life with the Brothers by sharing meals, prayer and service. The program helped some take the next step toward a religious vocation, while others go on to lead more spiritual lives. “They see the experience of Moreau House as a defining moment in their adult passage,” Bro. Larry said.

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St. Joseph House

Life in St. Joseph House is more defined; Aspirants accepted to the program make a commitment to determine if a religious vocation is in their future. “These men are serious about their faith and exploring a vocation,” said Bro. Chris. Together, the two Holy Cross affiliated programs have enriched vocations and deepened participants’ understanding of what it means to be a Brother of Holy Cross.

“Students who live in Moreau House speak very highly about Holy Cross,” observed Bro. Larry. “Young men are talking about Holy Cross and they become, in their own way, vocation directors by their own witness.” “Students get to know the Brothers in a different way,” said Bro. Chris. “Many are not familiar with the role of the Brother and the St. Joseph House was a perfect opportunity to share that.”