The month of Saint Brother André, patron of Family Caregivers in Canada
Last September, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) gave Brother André the title of Patron Saint of Family Caregivers in Canada. At the Oratory, we wanted to take advantage of this month of August, which has been dedicated to Brother André for several years, to emphasize in particular this title of devotion which reminds us of the strong bond that unites him to the sick and to those who are dedicated to their care.
Like the latter, now called “family caregivers”, Brother André was aware of the sufferings of others. From the beginning of his religious life, when he was a doorkeeper at the Collège Notre-Dame, he focused on the suffering of the men and women who came to see him. After the foundation of the Oratory in 1904, this attention to the suffering people who came to see him became the most important part of his life. Even after welcoming sick people to his office all day, he would take the time in the evening to visit those who could not travel. This concern for others overtook his prayer and he entrusted these many forms of human suffering that he encountered every day to Saint Joseph.
The family caregiver, who sometimes feels exhausted in his/her efforts to accompany a sick person, can draw inspiration from Saint Brother André.
Caring for a person who is sick or diminished by age requires great attention toward the person, true charity. Brother André encouraged the people he met to live charity through fraternal gestures. He would say:
« Our Lord is our big brother, and we,
his little brothers, must love each other
as members of the same family. »
Azarias Claude, a great friend of Brother André, tells us that when speaking of charity, he would often say that it was not enough to give money, but we had to give sympathy and of our heart. Brother André’s reflections on charity can become words of encouragement and comfort for family caregivers.
In this month of Saint Brother André, we want to emphasize this new patronage, but above all we want to pay tribute to all the men and women who, day after day, lovingly devote themselves to caring for a loved one who needs to be accompanied in a particular way at this point in their life. The parents who put all their love into accompanying a child suffering from a handicap; the spouses who accompany their life partner who is ill or disabled; the ones who assist a father, mother, brother or sister who has lost their autonomy; or those who assist a neighbour or a friend in need of their help; all are remarkable examples of love for others. We want to salute all these gestures by which men and women recognize, as did Brother André, that anyone who needs our help is our brother and sister.
Sunday, August 13, will be a special day in this regard, as we will welcome, once again this year, family caregivers from the Regroupement des aidants naturels du comté de l’Assomption (RANCA) who will give testimony of their commitment at the end of the Sunday masses. An invitation is being extended to all family caregivers to come and celebrate with us!