#Blessed: Holy Cross Congregation celebrates religious vow renewals

Members of the Moreau Province of the Holy Cross Congregation gathered for mass and dinner at Brother Vincent Pieau House Sunday to commemorate those who were celebrating the anniversaries of their religious vows.

The Moreau province is composed of two main houses in New York and Austin. Several Brothers from New York joined their counterparts in Austin to be honored at the ceremony.

“It’s a celebration and a commemoration. The brothers renewed the vows that they took 70, 50, 25 years ago,” Fr. Peter Walsh said of the jubilee.

Walsh said that the commemoration was a great time to “focus on life within the church,” especially for young people.

“There aren’t a lot of people anymore choosing religious life,” Walsh said. “It’s something that young people don’t really know about. But this is a great opportunity to let people know that there are still people taking religious vows in Holy Cross.”

Notably, Brother Gerald Muller was honored in his 70th year of religious vows.

“Not a lot [of people make it to 70 years],” Fr. Peter Walsh said of Muller’s anniversary.

The 89-year-old brother, who retired in 2013 and is still very active on campus, has taught at Holy Cross schools for over 60 years and has written over 100 books for both children and adults, including a biography of Martin Luther King Jr..

“[Muller] really takes the time to get to know and to be with students,” Walsh said. “Even though he’s been retired for a few years, he still comes to [events on campus]. Often I’ll see him at Open Mic night at Jo’s. He really takes a great interest in students.”

Though Muller was the only Brother observing 70 years, several trailed closely behind him: Brothers Ralph Kuder and Carl Smith celebrated 65 years, and Brothers Robert Carberry, Joseph Dunne and Reginald Jacques celebrated 60.

Several other “jubilarians” celebrated 50, 40 and 25 years respectively, including Sr. Denise Mary Hackett, who observed her 50th year of religious vows.

Muller said that the jubilee celebration was not only for the individuals who make up Holy Cross, but for the congregation as a whole and its history.

“This was a gathering of the three branches of Holy Cross; that’s what’s so important,” Muller said. “Ours was the first community in history to have a brother, a priest and a sister all together in the same community.”

Though Muller will not officially pass his 70th year mark until August, Muller expressed that he was “very happy” and grateful to be celebrating.

“Why wouldn’t I be?” Muller asked. “God has been good to me. My autobiography is: God has been good to me. Can’t get better than that.”

Though a wonder to students, who agonize over committing to Saturday night plans, 70 years of vows came naturally to Muller.

“From an early age I knew that I would become a non-clerical [figure], but I would be religious, just like St. Francis of Assisi, who was not a priest. He was my model from the beginning.”

Facing initial resistance from his parents, Muller eventually got his wish to enter into religious life when he was 18.

“Senior year, I was up for the draft. I was 17 years old, I was going to be drafted and my parents were opposed to my becoming a brother,” Muller said.

Finally he asked his parents, “Do you want a living brother or a dead soldier?” They assented and by age 19, he was off to training in Wisconsin and then Indiana.