Served by the Priest of the Society of the Holy Cross

The Society of the Holy Cross – or SSC from the Latin Societas Sanctae Crucis – is a Congregation of priests, who live and minister under a common Rule of Life.

There are currently over 1,000 members around the world in parishes, missions, chaplaincies, schools and other areas of pastoral ministry, committed to witnessing to the Cross of Christ by their lives and ministry.

Image: Fr Charles Fuge Lowder SSC (1820-1880) Founder of SSC 

St Peter’s London, Docks, founded by Fr Lowder, and still staffed by an SSC priest today. (Reproduced from the St Peter’s London Docks website)

Society of the Holy Cross

SMF was founded in London in 1855 by a small group of Anglo-Catholic priests led by Father Charles Lowder.

At a time when the Catholic Revival in the Church of England was threatened by persecution and misunderstanding, these priests came together for support, mutual prayer and encouragement. Fr Lowder spelled out the objects of SSC:

“To defend and strengthen the spiritual life of the clergy, to defend the faith of the Church, and to carry on and aid Mission work both at home and abroad”.

The members of this society, meeting together as they did in prayer and conference, were deeply impressed with the evils existing in the Church, and saw also, in the remedies adopted by St Vincent de Paul, the hope of lessening them.

The Society has now spread throughout the world and is organised in autonomous Provinces under Provincial Masters elected by their Brethren. Within each Province are various Regions headed by Regional Vicars, and the work of the Society at local level is carried forward in Chapters led by their Local Vicars.

Priests of the Society live under a common Rule and meet together in their local SSC Chapters every month or two for prayer, Mass and some kind of study or conversation.  Presiding over the Society worldwide is a Master-General who has a special responsibility to ensure an on-going fidelity among the Brethren to the spirit of the Society.

SSC is not a devotional guild, but takes its stance upon a shared vision of :

‘a disciplined priestly life fashioned after a definite spiritual rule.’

It is this Rule of Life which unites the Brethren in their various priestly ministries and lives. They are required to:

‘consider their obligation to the Society as a close spiritual bond…which takes precedence to that of any other voluntary society.’

This obligation includes a commitment to attend local SSC Chapter meetings and annual Regional and Provincial Synods. The life of the Society is experienced primarily through the local Chapter, and attendance at Chapter is of obligation unless prevented by genuine pastoral duties.