Dear Followers of Jesus,
Every time we gather for Mass, we celebrate our true identity in God. Now today, we reflect on the gift of the Eucharist itself. At Sacred Heart, these past Sundays of Pentecost, Holy Trinity and now the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, show us why we restored our church building. The building only helps us to internalize our true identity in Christ, revealing to us that we become on earth the Real Presence of Christ.
On Wednesday May 23, 2018, we celebrated the Eucharist in the newly restored Sacred Heart Church. I want to reflect on some of the aspects of that celebration. I will be offering much reflection and many tours as the summer progresses, but here are a couple of the details that formed our first Eucharist back in the church.
The relic of Saint André Bessette: I had the privilege of carrying the relic of Saint André in procession as we began the Mass. With two parishioners carrying candles along side, I carried the second -class relic to the altar. The relic is a piece of clothing of Saint André who died in 1937 at the age of 92 in Montreal, Canada. Brother André Bessette was a Holy Cross Brother who became a healer after being assigned to be the porter, a doorkeeper, at our college in Montreal. He had an enduring devotion to Saint Joseph and began what is now Saint Joseph’s Oratory, the largest shrine to Saint Joseph in the world.
Brother André was a healer. Many people with physical, emotional and spiritual pain came to the college to seek him out, to have him listen to them or to have him touch their wounds. He would see up to 600 people a day and then stay up most of the night praying for the people he encountered during the day. He slept only one or two hours a day. Holy Cross considered him a nuisance because of all the poor people that landed on the doorstep. The priests and brothers really did not know what to do with him because he did not fit easily into the mission of education. God had other plans for him.
I am deeply humbled to have Saint André’s relic in our altar. I pray every day that God will raise up healing in our community, so that we too may more fully understand that healing, hospitality and hope may reside not only from our altar but more deeply in our hearts. André died on January 6, 1937. Over one million people attended his funeral in the bitter cold of Montreal. That was a miracle itself. André’s legacy rests securely within our community now.
The relic is housed in a holy water bottle from 1897. This bottle was part of a home Mass kit for the sick that belonged to my grandmother’s family. I am honored to pass along this bottle to house the relic of André within the altar on which we celebrate the Eucharist.
The chalice donated from Father Nicholas Ayo, CSC: Bishop Sheridan used a chalice for the first time at Sacred Heart that belonged to our first novice master here in Cascade. Father Ayo was my novice master and he began the Novitiate here in 1978. I am so grateful to make this connection with Holy Cross here in the parish. Fr. Ayo is in active retirement at the University of Notre Dame. This chalice also means a great deal to me since he taught me many aspects of the spiritual life. The chalice will remain the property of Sacred Heart Church.