Finding Great Joy in Religious Life

Bro. Bill Nick, CSC, under a portrait of Blessed Father Basil Moreau, CSC, founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross.

Bro. Bill Nick, CSC, under a portrait of Blessed Father Basil Moreau, CSC, founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross.

Great things can happen in more than a half century of service to the Catholic Church and Holy Cross Brother William (Bill) Nick is living proof. He currently serves as the director of development for the Holy Cross Congregation’s Moreau Province and lives in Austin, Texas.

From humble beginnings on a farm in Kansas, Bro. Bill was raised with a great love for the Catholic Church and knew from a fairly young age that he wanted to serve in some capacity. Following a senior retreat and graduation from Immaculata High School in Leavenworth, Kansas, he entered the seminary to discern the priesthood. However, after two years, he decided to explore other options.

Backed by a strong support system, including family and his pastor, he applied for membership as a religious brother in the Congregation of Holy Cross. “It did not take long for me to realize that this was where the Lord was calling me,” he said.

Growing up in a large family, Bro. Bill said his parents lived their Catholic faith, taking their eight children to daily Mass and praying for religious vocations. His father worked as a millwright for Wilson Meat Packing Company, but also cared for their small farm where they raised dairy cows, chickens and goats, and planted a few crops. His Slovenian grandparents lived on the neighboring farm. When Bro. Bill’s mother died in her 40s, his older sisters stepped up to fill the void. Many of his siblings still reside in the Midwest and it is quite a celebration when they gather together, he said.

Today, Bro. Bill resides at St. Joseph’s Hall on the campus of St. Edward’s University with 16 of his fellow religious brothers who are a treasured gift to him. For the majority of the last several decades, his ministry as a Holy Cross Brother was in secondary education.

The mission of the Holy Cross Brothers is to be “Educators in the Faith.” Over a span of 45 years, Bro. Bill fulfilled this mission by ministering in five high schools. Following graduation from St. Edward’s University in 1964, he taught at Holy Cross High School in San Antonio and attended Our Lady of the Lake University where he completed his MA in Secondary School Administration. Nine of his 15 years at the high school were spent in administration and in 1980 he was reassigned to serve on the West Coast.

Bro. Bill spent the next three decades working at Holy Cross high schools in California, with his last position as president of Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, California. “While at times challenging, the ministry of leading a school community, especially the students and teachers, was especially rewarding. Engaging in the mission of educating in the faith, of watching lives being transformed by the love and care of community, was a blessing,” he said.

Religious life has been a wonderful and uplifting commitment for Bro. Bill, and in some ways he feels his spiritual journey is just beginning. He draws inspiration from reading, and one of his favorite authors is Oblate Father Ron Rohlheiser, president of the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio.

Brother Bill encourages everyone to be open to a life of service in the church, whether their vocation is as a religious brother or sister, a priest, single lay person or married couple. “Do not be afraid to follow your heart. Allow the whispers of the Holy Spirit to guide you. Be open to the Holy Spirit speaking to you through people who love you,” he said.

© Copyright 2015 Diocese of Austin. All Rights Reserved.