Brother André… on the small white screen

Two years ago, while I was looking for the archives of the Cause’s Office, I came across a small brown suitcase with the inscription “Cause of Brother André”. I thought I had stumbled upon one of the suitcases used to transport documents to Rome. When I opened it, I was surprised to find an old slide projector instead! I thought to myself, “What have I stumbled upon again? It was only some time later, while working on other archives of the Cause, that I was able to put the pieces of this puzzle back together.

In the 1980s, the Cause’s office was very active and effective in the area of communications. It was headed by Father Bernard Lafrenière, c.s.c., who was successively Director of Public Relations for the Oratory and Assistant to the Rector for Communications. He had been Vice-Postulator of the Cause since October 1975. Five years later, he was assisted by Brother Robert Montcalm, CSC, also an experienced communicator.

One of their tools for making Brother André’s life and work known was a slide show entitled “Brother André and Saint Joseph’s Oratory”. This consists of 140 slides that retrace Brother André’s life from his origins in Saint-Grégoire d’Iberville to his funeral, in addition to presenting the history of the Oratory and its development after the death of its founder.

Comments and slides

Fig. 1 – The first page of comments and the first 10 slides. CARDG.

This slideshow is accompanied by a typed text commenting on each slide, as well as an audio cassette. The length of the presentation is approximately 35 minutes.

Chronicle Father Lafrenière

Fig. 2 – Chronicle published by Father Bernard Lafrenière in L’Oratoire, the French version of The ORATORY magazine from 1977 and in English from 1978. According to my analysis, it is on the basis of the latter that Father Lafrenière built his slide show in 1979. The Oratory, July-August 1978, p. 20-21.

If you were a schoolchild in the 80s, this may bring back memories. During that decade, the Office of the Cause loaned this slide show to many schools. Some even decided to buy it in order to integrate it into their curriculum for their catechetical classes. In some cases, Brother Montcalm traveled to make the presentation in person.

Lettre de remerciements enseignante

Fig. 3 – Thank you letter from a teacher and a dictation she made from the slide show. CARDG.

It is not only schools that have taken an interest in this slideshow. The archives reveal that it has been lent to various organizations, such as hospitals, retirement homes, parishes and religious congregations. In 1982 alone, the year of Brother André’s beatification, Brother Montcalm reports that he presented this slide show in about a hundred different places! Another interesting fact is that it has been presented not only in Quebec, but also a few times in other Canadian provinces and in the United States. Some loan cards even reveal that it was presented in Bangladesh and Kenya.

Lettre circulaire envoyée par le frère Montcalm à divers organismes et feuille de réservation. CARDG.

Circular letter sent by Brother Montcalm to various organizations and reservation sheet. CARDG.

Publicité dans le journal Le Progrès de Magog, le 10 juin 1981.

Fig. 5 – Advertisement in the newspaper Le Progrès de Magog, June 10, 1981. CARDG.

With the changing of guard at the Office for the Cause during the 1990s, this slide show is slowly falling into oblivion. The last trace of a loan dates back to 1996.