(This is a six part series leading up to January 6, the Feast Day of Saint Andre Bessette, the patron of our parish community.)
Our parish community strives to connect the prayer of the Church with dedicated service of people. We celebrate Mass with honesty and intention which calls each member to serve people in need. We are feed by God in our small chapel on the corner of 6th Street and Burnside and we welcome people every morning to be nourished with food, companionship and nonviolence.
Every year on Holy Thursday, we wash feet during the Mass, the ritual prayer of the Church. We also wash feet every Wednesday in our hospitality which connects us to Jesus’ request to not only be feed at the altar of the Eucharist but also to wash the feet of people in need.
Members of our staff begin our hospitality center every morning reflecting on the upcoming Sunday Gospel that will be proclaimed at Mass. We pray for people who will fill our upstairs center and then learn a deep humility by caring for people, offering clothing and food, hygiene products and haircuts, bus tickets and a kind conversation.
Brother Andre lived from a deep devotion to the Mass and to the saints. He prayed for the intercession of Mary and Joseph to care for people who were ill and living in chronic fear and pain. He often spent the nights in prayer offering the suffering of people whom he had met during the day to God. He slept only a couple of hours a night because of his great devotion to God and his love for people who came to him in their suffering.
We connect our prayer and service by praying for people who have been murdered in our neighborhood. For the past ten years, after a murder occurs in Old Town, our parish community processes from Sunday Mass into the streets to pray for the victim and for peace. We are compelled by the love of God and the suffering of our neighbors to take our prayer out of the chapel confines and into the brutal issues of the streets. At the conclusion of our prayer we also pray that we will never have to pray on the streets again.
Saint Andre Bessette models for our parish community how to trust God in the midst of suffering and poverty. Brother Andre believed in his heart that God alone can heal people who feel worthless and abandoned. We strive in our parish community to put that belief into practice in so many different ways during our prayer to God and our service to people.