On Monday night at McKenna Hall, the Congregation of Holy Cross hosted a celebration of the centennial of the Holy Cross Mission Center. Br. Paul Bednarczyk, the superior general of the Congregation of Holy Cross, delivered a keynote address at the event.
Bednarczyk was introduced by Fr. Tom Eckert, the director of the Holy Cross Mission Center. Eckert highlighted Bednarczyk as the first brother to serve in the role of superior general and described him as “a man of faith, hope, charity and a servant leader.”
Bednarczyk began his talk by thanking the Holy Cross Mission Center for its service to the order and the people it serves and gave a brief history of the missionary work of the Congregation. Bednarczyk noted that mission work has been a priority of the Congregation since its founding by Blessed Basil Moreau, who wanted to be a missionary himself.
Bednarczyk said the order now operates in “eighteen countries around the globe” with “approximately twenty different nationalities in the Congregation.”
Bednarczyk highlighted the Congregation's recent improvement in ethnic diversity.
“It is estimated by 2035, although I believe it will be sooner, there will be more Asian, meaning Bengali and Indian, confrères in the Congregation, than there will be Americans, Canadians, Peruvians, Chileans, Brazilians, French and Hatians combined,” he said.
Bednarczyk also noted the development of a new “reverse mission” in Holy Cross. Because the Congregation of the Holy Cross is thriving in other parts the world, while the Church in general is declining in the West, he said, many Holy Cross members from other countries have come to serve in North America.
Bednarczyk stressed the importance of the order being a global and intercultural institution. He said intercultural means moving “beyond tolerances of differences to the acceptance of something new when people are generally enriched by each other and their cultural perspective.”
Bednarczyk also spoke about the “prophetic dimension of the consecrated life,” pointing to a quote from Pope Francis that said prophets “know God,” are able to “discern and denounce the evil of sin” and “tend to be on the side of the poor and powerless.”
A new Holy Cross mission will be set up in Papua New Guinea, Bednarczyk said. He hopes the mission, consisting of six priests and brothers, will start within the next year.
Bednarczyk closed with a final exhortation for Holy Cross to “keep pressing forward” and reminded the audience “we are only asked to be faithful to who we are, to love the Lord and his people and to emulate the many men and women of Holy Cross who preceded us.”