Moreau House to close its doors after 16 years, cites potential Title IX concerns


Moreau House will not be closing there doors after 16 years of accepting students due to potential Title IX concerns.

After nearly two decades of fostering community living in St.Joseph Hall, the Moreau House Collegiate Program will be discontinued by the Congregation of Holy Cross.

Brother Larry Atkinson, the program’s founder and director, said that complications arose which caused Holy Cross and St. Edward’s Residence Life to consider moving the program out of St. Joseph Hall, which is not under the direction of the university.

Specifically, concerns about Title IX and conforming to Residence Life standards caused the university to re-evaluate the student community within St. Joseph Hall. Although Atkinson, with the help of graduate assistant Carlos Barboza, looks after the “Moreau men.”

The university had taken issue with the fact that neither of them are formally trained resident assistants or directors, Atkinson said.

“Since students live there, they need to be under the supervision of the university. This is all for the safety and protection of the students,” Atkinson said. “The university is very attentive to all the requirements of Title IX and any other legal issues so we wanted to cooperate with that.”

The university’s verdict, however, was not a death sentence. Atkinson said that the university offered several other housing options on campus that would allow him to continue the program under the University’s supervision and according to Residence Life rules.

“Dr. [Lisa Kirkpatrick] worked very closely with us to accommodate us and took look at various options on campus,” Atkinson said. “We seriously considered looking at them.”

After reviewing the prospects for the Moreau Program, Holy Cross ultimately decided to terminate the program, preferring to maintain the program’s integrity.

“The options for housing at the University just didn’t seem to meet our needs to keep the program as we know it. So we’ve decided that we’d rather end the program because we believe that it really belongs attached to the brothers,” Atkinson said.

“The whole purpose of establishing it was so that young men could get to know the brothers and experience community life the way that we do.”

Besides the university’s concerns about liability, the Moreau program is faced with other issues including the dwindling amount of brothers on campus and in the nation.

Brother Nich Perez, an alum and former Moreau man joined the program in 2005 when it was still a formation program for young men interested in becoming brothers.

He said that he joined the brothers because he was inspired by their sense of community, and that now there aren’t many young people who want to pursue a life of poverty and chastity.

“We’re losing priests and brothers,” Perez said. “Back then it was a badge of honor to pursue a religious life, now it is very counter-cultural.”

Perez attributes this attitude to a shift in culture.

“It’s an interesting process,” Perez said, “It’s going to be weird for the next few years.”

Atkinson also attested to the lack of brothers and, citing the university’s master plan, speculated that within the next 10-15 years St. Joseph Hall may be vacant, or not exist at all depending on whether the few brothers remaining will choose to live there or move to the newer residence down the street.

“There are fewer brothers available for ministry at St. Edward’s. We recognize that there will be fewer brothers on campus so our role has been to educate the faculty, staff and student leaders in the influence of Holy Cross to have them carry that on once we’re no longer there,” Atkinson said.

Atkinson confirmed that currently, there are no actual plans being made or set into motion by the university and that the brothers would stay in St. Joseph Hall “for the foreseeable future.”

As long as the brothers are still on campus, Atkinson wants to continue to facilitate interaction between the brothers and students as part of his plan to pass on the Holy Cross tradition.

“We hope to be able to still continue to offer hospitality to students and to have them get to know us,” Atkinson said. “We don’t have any plans yet but that is the initial thinking.”

Although future “Friends of Moreau,” Atkinson’s affectionate reference to the house’s constant visitors, will still have the opportunity to engage with the brothers in their home, students will no longer know what it’s like to live one floor below them.

“When I heard the news I had a lot of sadness and frustration,” Senior Moreau House resident Garrett Martin said. “I have really fallen in love with this place.”

Martin, who went to an all-boys Jesuit high school said that he loves the community and is sad to see the program end.

“It’s like being in your own world over here. It’s impacted me all for the best,” Martin said. “I’m sad to hear that a lot of the guys that I know who wanted a community like this, are going to unfortunately miss out.”

Resident Colin de Guzman said that he was surprised to hear that the program was ending and that he intends to stay with his fellow Moreau Men. He and three other residents are looking for a place to live off-campus next year while trying to maintain some of the same tenets of the Moreau House values like chore sharing and shared meals.

“What really attracted me [to Moreau House] was the brotherhood, the community and the service aspect,” de Guzman said. “We were all equally shocked but we want to stick together and possibly continue that community.”