I live at Dujarie House, the Holy Cross community residence at Holy Cross Lake View Senior Secondary School in Jinja, Uganda. It bears the name of Father Jacques Dujarié, who courageously served the Church in France amidst the persecution of the French Revolution. In 1820, as the Church was being restored in the years following the Revolution, Father Dujarie founded the Brothers of Saint Joseph. These young men dedicated themselves to prayer and to community life, and they served the Church as teachers. In 1835, shortly before his death, Father Dujarié entrusted the Brothers to Blessed Father Basil Moreau, C.S.C. Then, on March 1, 1837, Father Moreau united the Brothers of Saint Joseph with his group of auxiliary priests to form the Congregation of Holy Cross. “We are a religious congregation composed of two distinct societies of religious, one of priests and one of brothers, bound together in one indivisible brotherhood.” (Constitutions of the Congregation of Holy Cross, 1.6.)
At Dujarie House, I live with three Holy Cross brothers. Brother Alan Harrod came to East Africa more than twenty years ago, after serving in several different Holy Cross high schools on the East Coast. Presently, he lectures at the Philosophy Centre Jinja (where Holy Cross candidates for priesthood and brotherhood study philosophy alongside candidates from many other religious communities) and he chairs Lake View’s Board of Governors.
Brother Evarest Neema comes from western Uganda, near Fort Portal – Holy Cross’ first foundation in East Africa. He professed final vows in 2008 and now serves as Lake View’s head of faculty and a teacher of natural sciences.
We pray together, work together and share our lives together. We support one another when times are challenging. We challenge one another to grow. We belong to one another, believing that our life with God is bound up together.
On October 17th, the anniversary of the canonization of Brother André Bessette, C.S.C. , our local community joined Holy Cross religious around the world in marking the beginning of the Congregation of Holy Cross' Year of the Brother. This is a time for Holy Cross to celebrate and promote the life and witness of our Brothers. At Lake View, we began with a time of prayer at our Monday morning assembly, and will continue with a variety of events throughout the coming year. We pray that our community will be renewed during this time, and will draw young men to fall in step with us.
The Year of the Brother seems to be a fitting title for my year in East Africa. For the first time since coming to Holy Cross, I live in a community of brothers. I see the ways that they are in relationship with their students, their teachers and their neighbors. I see their witness as educators in the faith. I see their commitment to single-hearted intimacy with God. All of the students at Lake View call me "Brother Mark". They understand that I'm preparing to become a priest, but they see me living and working with my brothers, and address me accordingly. It's a great reminder of the indivisible brotherhood that we all share in Holy Cross. My Year of the Brother will forever shape my life in Holy Cross.