After celebrating The Feast of Basil Moreau, I have been asked to share my thoughts on being a Holy Cross educator and the influence of Basil Moreau.
I will stay away from historical and biographical information regarding the man, but I do need to make some preliminary remarks for framing or foundational purposes.
First, Basil is French and I have French DNA.
Second, Basil is from Le Mans, France and this appears to be in a region where my own French roots reside.
Third, Holy Cross, the name of the Congregation that began this school in 1946 is actually a neighborhood in Le Mans. It provides a sense of place.
Finally, the word Congregation means “a gathering of people.”
In the time I have spent here I have come to develop a deep appreciation for the work and tradition of The Congregation of Holy Cross, and here are a few reasons why:
Let’s start with the men of Holy Cross, that is the Brothers and Priests, who gathered as a congregation, to educate, to serve, to pray.
Their dedication to education is seen in places like Notre Dame in South Bend, St. Edward’s in Austin, Archbishop Hoban in Akron, St. Edward’s in Lakewood, and Gilmour here in Gates Mills.
Like the neighborhood of Holy Cross in France we too have a place to gather called Gilmour where as a congregation we walk with those Holy Cross men and women who came before us. We gather daily to be educated, to do and be of service. And when we gather in convocation we congregate together to pray.
One of the first things I noticed when I started teaching here was the use of the phrase The Gilmour Family. It can seem trite, but here is what I know:
When Basil Moreau gathered a group of priests, brothers, and sisters as the congregation of Holy Cross, he made it clear that it would look to the image of the Holy Family as a model. Now it might be hard for us to imagine what it is to be the parents of God’s son, but in reality, all births and life are joyous occasions. But I am also pretty sure like Joseph and Mary, we all struggle now and then with doubt, frustration, and not knowing what the future holds. And that is what family is all about.
In a sense, I joined the Gilmour family because of family. Family by blood and family by choice. I received a call from a good friend who suggested that I come and interview for a job here at Gilmour.
Nora’s family had a longtime family by choice member Jonas Moran. Whenever Br. Jonas came to town he would visit and join us for dinner, sharing stories, jokes, and just catching up on family events. So, when I came to interview at Gilmour I ran into Br. Jonas. He had just come in to town and he was hanging out in Tudor house. I don’t know this for certain, but sometimes I wonder if it was a good word for or about me that Jonas shared with Br. Robert that sealed the deal for me to join Gilmour. Whatever it was that caught Robert’s attention escapes me, but here I am.
In my 28 years here, it has been my good fortune to have gained good, loyal friends and with them I have celebrated accomplishments and successes, celebrated marriages and births. I have shared the sorrow of loss when a colleague, friend, or student has been touched by tragedy or has passed.
I have also shared victories. We have seen state championships, and extraordinary performances. But we have also shared defeats; if you were in Twinsburg for the football playoffs, you probably felt some sadness that we lost, you probably were a bit chilled by the weather, you probably felt bad for your classmates who came so close to victory only to fall short. But how could you not be impressed by the effort that your team, your classmates, your friends, that you put forth. And if you didn’t notice, there were Gilmour alums from the 90’s and 80’s, 70’s and 60’s who showed up, in the cold, to cheer, to support, to represent for Gilmour, because that is what families do.
A friend of mine once asked me, why do I do what I do? Why do I teach religion? Why do I remain Catholic?
One of the reasons is that it provides me with a language and framework with which I can talk about and make sense of my existence.
In the same way, Gilmour and Holy Cross give me a language, Gilmour gives me a sense of place.
When you walk on campus as a student you are birthed into the Family of Gilmour, the tradition of Holy Cross. There is no unique, specific spirituality for Holy Cross people. It’s not like the Jesuits, Franciscans, or Benedictines. Holy Cross, Gilmour is graced with particular Charisms the notion of zeal, option for the poor, hope, hospitality, divine providence, these and others, at different times, during different years, manifest themselves, cause me to ponder, reflect and act.
In closing let me share with you some of the names of men and women who I have had the good fortune to cross paths with here and are part of my Gilmour Family. I will leave my current colleagues off this list of recognition knowing that their efforts in the classroom speak for their dedication to the mission of this school. Like the founders and members of the Congregation of Holy Cross the names you hear shaped me as man and teacher and helped lay the foundation for who we are today as Gilmour Academy.
Br. Jonas Moran
Br. Dan Kane
Br. Ken Kane
Br. Robert Kelley
Br. Robert Lavelle
Tom and Kris Saporito
-Robert Beach, Instructor in Religious Studies, US