(This is a six part series leading up to January 6, the Feast Day of Saint Andre Bessette, the patron of our parish community.)
On Sunday, August 16, 2009, our parish community dedicated and blessed the icon of Christ the Healer for our renovated worship space. Archbishop John Vlazny presided over the Eucharist and dedication. The entire parish community processed around the block to present the image of the healing Christ to the four corners of the world. With profound solemnity and prayer, every person present in the procession realized our need to be witnesses to Christ’s healing love in every aspect of our culture and beyond.
Our community bears witness to Christ’s love not only in art but in action. We connect with nearly thirty high schools, colleges, nursing schools and seminaries to invite students to realize the needs of people surviving poverty. We invite them to know that our faith compels us into service in the world without judgment or condemnation of any individual. The stories of suffering create for us a deep humility of prayer for every volunteer, student and parishioner.
Our faith in Christ as members of the Catholic Church is not private. Our posture of faith is bold and open, inviting and inclusive. Our volunteers serve from all walks of life and we invite them to walk with us in our faith and service. We all learn a profound humility from our reliance on God when we are unable to fix or solve the issues of poverty, mental illness and severe loss. We are grounded on the four corners of our block in faith and action but both are felt deeply beyond the parish community.
Brother Andre said, “It is with the smallest brushes that the artist paints the most beautiful pictures.” His simple prayer revealed great healing to many people in his day. He also founded Saint Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal, Canada. This is the largest shrine in the world dedicated to Saint Joseph. His humble prayer created great change for many people and his personal devotions became a source of public prayer.
Today, January 6, we celebrate the patron of our parish community, Saint Andre Bessette. Today is the memorial of his death in 1937. Over one million people processed to his funeral in the cold Montreal winter. We stand on our block still longing for healing, still praying in our hearts for the needs of the entire world. We witness to volunteers, students and other community partners that we are centered in God’s love and compelled from that love to serve people most in need of hospitality, healing and hope.
Saint Andre Bessette, pray for us.