A Time to Give Thanks
Every year in October, we celebrate Thanksgiving. This harvest time encourages us to give thanks for the bounties of nature. At Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal, we give thanks to the Lord for His bountiful gifts, but we give thanks in a very special way for this place of welcome, prayer, and peace, and for the one who made it possible, Saint Brother André. On October 19, we commemorate the anniversary of the first Mass celebrated in 1904 in this small oratory on the mountain, and on the 17th, we also give thanks on the anniversary of Brother André’s canonization.
Giving thanks is recognizing God’s presence in these events that traverse our history. It is also an opportunity to acknowledge this presence of God that has manifested and continues to manifest itself through men and women who have preserved and developed this precious legacy.
We give thanks, first and foremost, for the one who made this incredible adventure possible, which began with a tiny oratory and has become the grand shrine we know today. While Saint Brother André was the inspiration and spark of this great adventure, he had to rely on a large number of people to realize this plan. Thanks must be given for those early volunteers and for those who have continued this tradition of generosity to this day. We give thanks for the Holy Cross religious who have overseen the development of this work, but above all, we must give thanks for the faith and generosity of thousands of benefactors and pilgrims who have allowed and continue to allow this place of welcome and prayer in the midst of the city to remain a witness to God’s presence among us.
In the large book placed near the tomb of Saint Brother André, visitors and pilgrims thank him for what he accomplished: ‘Dear Brother André, thank you for erecting this beautiful house where we can pray, worship, and love God.’ Other messages show us that he is still present, and pilgrims come to thank him for what he continues to accomplish today. One pilgrim writes, ‘Thank you, Brother André, for everything you have done for my family.’ Another person writes, ‘Thank you for everything, Brother André, thank you for health, for my family…’ ‘Brother André, you have always watched over me and my family, and I know it is thanks to you that we are so happy…’ ‘St. Brother André, thank you for carrying our prayers with Saint Joseph, all the way to Jesus.’
Throughout the days, I have the immense privilege of receiving these moving testimonies from pilgrims who share their suffering and their joy with us, but above all, their journey. With simple words, but how sincere, they testify to their faith, and they help us recognize the Lord’s presence in their lives. I give thanks to the Lord for these men, these women, and even these children who allow me to appreciate more and more this place of faith and the one who made it possible, Saint Brother André.”