Dear Followers of Jesus,
In recent years, the healing mission of the Catholic Church has been diminished. Our hospitals, nursing homes and orphanages that were once administered by religious sisters, brothers and priests, continue now in the hands of large corporations. Many aspects of people-centered healing have given way to technology, efficiency, insurance and the bottom line. The healing Church is also now suspect because of the child abuse crimes of the clergy.
Healing remains incredibly important to all people. From mental illness, to terminal physical disease, Christ’s healing power is often neglected, rejected or considered something that only happened in the gospels. The memorial of Saint André Bessette offers us hope in the continuing healing nature of the Church.
I am incredibly grateful and aware that our first saint in the Congregation of Holy Cross, Saint André Bessette, was a healer because of his faith. He ministered in Montreal and the people of Canada are proud of his life, his mission to heal and his canonization that took place in Rome in 2010.
I find Brother André incredibly fascinating. He was a sickly child who was not expected to live. Instead, he died at 91. He grew up illiterate. In the work of the Holy Spirit, he was accepted into the Congregation of Holy Cross that is best known for education. Our religious community really did not know where to assign him so they appointed him porter at their college in Montreal. He stayed in the doorway for over 40 years. André had a great devotion to Saint Joseph, especially after his own father died when he was very young. God used that devotion to heal people as they came to the door.
In the high point of André’s ministry, he would encounter individually up to 600 people a day. He would invite them to go to confession or to Mass. He would suggest that people pray to Saint Joseph or any form of prayer. He would use oil from a lamp in the chapel to anoint some people in their pain and frustration. He offered people hope when there was little medical care accessible to them.
André would sleep only one or two hours at night. He spent the night praying for all the people who had come to him during the day. He was a simple man with an amazing life of prayer. He thought of himself as God’s little one or as God’s little puppy, not only because he was short in stature, but also because he was only leading people to God through Saint Joseph. André never considered himself as a healer.
The Shrine of Saint Joseph in Montreal is a large worship center in honor of Saint Joseph, the largest in the world to honor the foster father of Jesus, and was founded by André. The money came to him through the families that had a miraculous healing. The shrine continues today and millions of people still search for healing and hope.
A relic of Saint André Bessette is now housed in our new altar at Sacred Heart. I am so grateful that André’s presence remains in the center of our community in a real way. We need to turn to Saint André for our community, our parish, our Universal Church, all in need of healing and hope, mercy and love in so many ways. Please offer your life, your suffering, and your pain to Saint André. He will lead you to God, to the love and miraculous power of Christ Jesus.
Saint André Bessette, pray for us!
Blessings, Fr. Ron