St. Edward's Faculty Member Releases New Book on Algerian Missionaries
The St. Edward’s University community honored the beatification of Father Basil Moreau, CSC, in late October with a special Mass and reception. Beatification is the third of four steps on the path to becoming a saint (canonization) in the Catholic church. Klawitter gave a special lecture during the celebration.
When Holy Cross missionaries landed in Algeria, they had only a vague idea of what work they would be undertaking. Trained as teachers, they discovered that the country had a very weak educational system and the few schools that did exist did not want competition from new teachers.
Working first at an orphanage in Algiers, the Brothers eventually settled into schools at Oran, Bone, and Philippeville. None of the locations was ideal for teaching, and the local authorities did not want to pay the Brothers a salary. But with perseverance, the Brothers found that their schools were attractive to the colonists and prospered.
Unfortunately, the group was hit with tragedy early. One of their youngest men, Brother Louis, drowned in the Mediterranean, where he had taken a group of his orphan boys for a swim. Other Brothers were hit with fevers that lasted for weeks. Some men gave up and left the country. In the end, though, a solid core of Brothers forged ahead and established strong schools that lasted until 1873 when political unrest forced them back to France.
Klawitter has said of his work, "My earlier book of missionary letters became easier as the Brothers in pioneer Indiana started to learn English and write in English, but in Algeria, they never learned English and some of them wrote very long letters!" For Klawitter, this book was a labor of love.
Holy Cross in Algeria, can be ordered from Ingram Book Group, Baker & Taylor, iUniverse (1-800-AUTHORS), and Barnes & Noble. 280 pages. $20.95. ISBN: 0-595-46573-0280.
Today, Holy Cross is made up of priests, brothers and sisters. Still dedicated to educating hearts and minds, it operates missions, schools, colleges and universities on five continents and 15 countries.