For more than a century, the Congregation of Holy Cross priests, brothers and sisters have served as teachers, administrators and spiritual leaders at St. Edward's University.

All carry out the vision of Blessed Basil Anthony Moreau (1799–1873), CSC, founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross, who began educating the hearts and minds of students in 1837.

Father Moreau's Vision

The connection between the Congregation of Holy Cross and education can be traced to Father Moreau's childhood, a time when all Church property had been given over to the revolutionary government. Catholic Masses and Sacraments were illegal, as was any kind of religious schooling. Most schools prior to the Revolution were Catholic and, in the aftermath of the French Revolution, many children went without formal education.

From the outset, Father Moreau believed Holy Cross followers should serve the church beyond the frontiers of France. During the congregation's first 15 years, Father Moreau sent missionaries to Algiers, Eastern Bengal (now Bangladesh) and the United States.

Holy Cross Arrives in United States

The first and most important effort of Holy Cross in the United States was in Indiana. In 1841, Father Moreau sent six brothers and one priest — Father Edward Sorin — ready to meet the needs of a frontier community.

The bishop of Indiana assigned this Holy Cross group to the small settlement of South Bend, where Father Sorin was asked to construct a boarding school that would become the University of Notre Dame.

Father Sorin followed Father Moreau's example of sending out priests and brothers to establish other schools and parishes throughout the United States and Canada. The effort continued despite meager resources, cholera outbreaks, America's Civil War and a constant shortage of Catholic priests and brothers across the frontier.

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Father Sorin

When Bishop Claude M. Dubuis of Galveston learned of Mrs. Mary Doyle's intention to leave most of her 498-acre South Austin farm to the Catholic church to establish an education institution, he invited Father Edward Sorin, CSC, superior general of the Congregation of Holy Cross, to Texas in 1872.

Father Sorin was among the first members of the Congregation of Holy Cross, which was founded near Le Mans, France, in 1837. He was sent to the United States to spread the ideals of Holy Cross education, and he founded several schools and universities, including St. Edward's and the University of Notre Dame.

Answering the Invitation

Answering the bishop's invitation, Father Sorin traveled to Austin and surveyed the beauty of the surrounding hills and lakes. A year later, following Mrs. Doyle's death, he founded a Catholic school called St. Edward's Academy in honor of his patron saint, Edward the Confessor and King.

Humble Beginnings

In the institution's first year, 1878, three farm boys made up the student body and met for classes in a makeshift building on the old Doyle homestead. In 1885, the academy secured its charter as a college, and by 1925, it received its university charter.

Honoring Father Sorin

Today, the university honors Father Sorin in several ways. Sorin Hall and the nearby Sorin Oak — a campus landmark and meeting spot — are named for him. And Founders Day events honor Father Sorin and all members of the Congregation of Holy Cross.

"For the kingdom to come in this world, disciples must have the competence to see and the courage to act."
—Constitutions of the Congregation of Holy Cross 2:14