Founder, Fr. Theodosius - A Man of New Epoch

Fr. Theodosius, a great icon, christened as Antony Crispin was born on 23 May 1808 to Anna Fallet and Paul Florin in Munster valley of Graubunden in south Tyrol. As he lost his father at the age of eight, his elder brother Fr. Florain became his role model who joined the capuchins at Stans. Unfortunately the young priest died of typhus at the age of 27. It was while praying at the grave of his brother that Crispin felt his call and joined the same order. On 25th November 1830 he was ordained as priest and within a year he became the novice master and started shouldering the responsibilities that his elder brother carried. While accompanying his scholastics he gained deep insight and became a dynamic figure. As a young priest he was a sincere teacher who lived the principles that he taught.

In 1838 he was appointed as superior at Baden. In the same year high handed anti clerical politics made the conditions harder for the Catholics. Theodosius realized the approaching storm and said "By the year 1839, I conceived the plan of counter acting the anti Christian educational structure by means of a Christian system". For this he required a religious congregation. He envisioned a congregation that would fit in everywhere.

Fr. Theodosius was an outstanding social reformer. He became a powerful defender of the church. With clarity of mind he could see all facets of a problem and put his new ideas and plans into action without delay. Within a decade from 1831 to 1841 Fr. Theodosius had noticed the changing socio-political and religious scenario and took fearless stand to combat the problems that the Catholic Church was facing.

'The need of the time is the will of God' was his slogan.

According to the need of the time, he found a congregation who were known as The Teaching Sisters of Holy Cross. As the girl child education was neglected the sisters took care of these children. In those days sisters were meant to lead a cloistered life away from the world. But Fr. Theodosius was courageous to take a bold step to reach out to the people. In his opinion his sisters must radiate charity in the world for the benefit of all, irrespective of race, religion, culture or language. This caused great fascination.

Due to continuous civil wars many women were widowed and children were orphaned. There were many sick and poor whom no one cared for. In 1849 Fr. Theodosius as the president of the Catholic Association for the poor in Chur, wished his sisters to take up the works of Mercy. For this he found another eminent and responsible personality in Mother Maria Teresa Scherer. In 1852 she was appointed as the superior and novice mistress of the Sisters of Mercy of the Holy Cross in Chur. In 1853 Holy Cross Hospital was opened to take care of the sick and elderly.

Gradually both the institutes started to function independently, one with the 'Teaching Sisters of Holy Cross' at Menzingen, under the guidance of Mother Bernarda and the other as 'The Sisters of Mercy of the Holy Cross' engaged in works of mercy, under the guidance of Mother Theresia Scherer, at Ingenbohl. This separation officially took place in the year 1856. Thus Fr. Theodosius became the founder of twin congregations at a time of turmoil and tension in the socio political and religious spheres in Europe.

In 1860 Fr. Theodosius became the Vicar General of the Diocese of Chur. He tried to unify different Christian denominations. In all his endeavours he was optimistic having boundless trust in the providence of God. His draft on 'Principles of Education' and the drafts of the constitutions for both the congregations and his literary works definitely prove him to be a good writer. His wisdom did speak in all his writings. Before his death he had written these last lines:

"In essential matters unity, in doubtful ones freedom, in everything love."

Fr. Theodosius was a man of versatile genius; he was a good priest, teacher and preacher. As an eloquent speaker he drew big crowds. He was not only a social reformer but also a philanthropist. He wished to help whomever he could reach out. He even established factories with a purpose of bringing a system of just wages to the labourers. As he was hundred years ahead of his time, it was difficult for others to pace with his ideas. Hence he was criticized by his enemies in spite of his good intentions. He could be compared to Phoenix, in spite of his untimely death his spirit will continue to live in his followers. His people gave him a tombstone that reads:

'To the Noble Priest, the Teacher of the youth, the Nurse of the sick, the Father of the poor.'

He died on 15th February 1865. He died but his spirit of love, hope and courage will remain forever. Today through these Holy Cross Congregations Fr.Theodosius will continue to live all over the world!