Over the years, the Counseling Office of Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal, a space of welcome, of listening, and of compassion, has without question become a valuable service offered to people who are wounded, not necessarily physically – as was the case in the time of Brother André (1904 to 1937) — but rather psychically, psychologically, emotionally, affectively, morally, and religiously.
Brother André left few objects behind. The few pieces preserved at the Oratory Museum remind us that Brother André was a simple man. His great devotion to Saint Joseph moved large crowds in the early 20th century. This immense faith left us a legacy: the internationally renowned sanctuary, Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal.
Frequent reference has been made to the magnitude of the funeral that followed the death of Brother André, on January 6, 1937. For an entire week, hundreds of thousands of people came to pay their respects and attend the funeral in the burning chapel of the Oratory’s crypt. The crowd was so large that it could take up to four hours to reach the coffin. And you couldn’t linger for long in front of Brother André’s body. According to reports from that time, there were 110 visitors per minute! 1
It was on December 27, 1870, just a few weeks after arriving at Collège Notre-Dame, that young Alfred Bessette entered the novitiate of the Congregation of the Holy Cross1. Dressed in the Brothers’ cassock with a double cincture around his waist, Alfred took his vows of commitment before the novice master, Father Julien Gastineau, CSC. It was during this ceremony that he took the name of Brother André.
Now that summer is here, we can’t help but think of vacations, festivities, pleasure, sun and warmth. It is also a special time to begin a spiritual process of self-reflection that will open up a new place in your life.
When spring arrives, the swallows return. New plants sprout from the earth: fragile yet resilient. A gentle breeze blows through the open windows. It’s the season of renewal, of awakening, of life… and of spring cleaning! At least, that’s what we used to do to give our homes a fresh look. Before summer begins, I recommend you perform a small, practical exercise which doubles as a way to honour Saint Brother André.
Saint John Paul II initiated what would become the instauration of February 2 as the annual World Day for Consecrated Life. The date is symbolic in using the same date as the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord at the Temple.
Brother André’s passing on January 6, 1937, sent shockwaves through Quebec society. It also spawned a support network for the continuation of his work, which is still in operation today… Read the full article in French.