The Congregation of Holy Cross was founded to help in the enormous task of re-educating people in the faith and rebuilding the Catholic community in the aftermath of the French Revolution of 1789.
Blessed Father Basil Moreau is the founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross. Fr. Moreau had organised a society of auxiliary priests to help out by preaching missions in poor and country parishes. He joined the two societies in 1837 to form the Congregation of Holy Cross. In 1838, he gave a Rule of Life to a small group of laywomen, and on August 4, 1841, Fr. Moreau added a third society to the new Congregation when he gave the religious habit to the first Marianite Sister of Holy Cross. Fr. Moreau consecrated the auxiliary preists (known as Savatoriests) to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Brothers (Josephites) to St. Joseph and the Sisters (Marianites) to the heart of Mary pierced with sword of sorrows, as a visible imitation of the Holy Cross Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Fr. Moreau was the first to profess public vows in 1840 as a religious of Holy Cross.
The frist group of Holy Cross missionaries to reach India left England January 17, 1853. It was composed of three Brothers, three sisters one priest and one seminarians. (Two priests were forced to drop out due to severe illness when the first attempt to sail in November 1852 failed due to storms.) The group arrived in Calcutta in May 1853. Fr. Verite took the Sisters of Daccca, while the Brothers and seminarian went to Noakhali. Fr. Verite soon joined them as pastor of Noakhali, which included Agartola and Sylhet in its territory. Chillagong became the headquarters of Holy Cross in December 1853.
The East Bengal mission was called at the time, unquestionably the most destitute in East Asia and perhaps in any other part of the world. Because it was such a difficult and dangerous place to live and work, no other religious congregation showed any interest in it. Though the mission was named East Bengal, the Church jurisdiction and the political territory or civil jurisdiction called East Bengal were quite different from each other. The Province of East Bangal was first created in 1905. The Church territory was officially called the Vicariate of East Bangal, set up in 1845 by the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith at the Vatican. It first superior was Bishop Thomas Olliffe, an Irish Jesuit. The vicariate of E. Bengal embraced the present-day dioceses of Dhaka, Mymensing and Chittagong, a large part of Assam, the Arakan district of western Burma and the present Agartola Diocese in eastern India. It was a huge area, but when Holy Cross arrived in 1853, there were only three priests working there - a Portuguese Augustinian and two young Irish diocesan priests, both of whom were dead of disease by 1854. There were about 13,000 Catholics in the area. In Dacca, there was no church or chapel at all under the jurisdiction of Rome.
In Bangladesh, a closeness of spirit has always remained between priests, Brothers and Sisters. They consider themselves as the family of Holy cross and celebrate community feasts together and strive to work cooperatively in parish action plans and other activities. In the Congregation as a whole, greater cooperation between priests, Brothers and Sisters is being promoted by the Council of the Congregation. It brings together annually the superiors of all the Holy Cross Provinces and Districts and the three Congregations of Holy cross Sisters.
Our beloved founder, Blessed Father Anthony Moreau, founded the Congregation of Holy Cross, consisting of Sisters, Fathers and Brothers, after the model of the Holy Family. The members of the Holy Cross come from diverse family backgrounds, cultures, areas and regions to build community and communion. The basis for establishing community and communion is to become of one mind and one heart.