A SAINT IN OUR MIDST
Bro. Andre is set to be canonized on October 17
By Matt Nuñez ‘12
On February 19, Pope Benedict XVI announced to members of the Congregation of Holy Cross that their patron saint, Brother Andre Bessette, C.S.C., would be canonized on October 17. Now, with the celebrations only days away, members of Holy Cross around the world are preparing for the exciting day.
The life lived by Brother Andre is nothing less than extraordinary, and he set a standard for many clergy members of the 20th Century. As Br. Johnathan Beebe, C.S.C., said in a recent phone interview, “Brother Andre was, above all, a man of prayer. When we pray together, we are continuing the ministry that Bro. Andre began.” Establishing that ministry was not an easy road for Bro. Andre though, as he endured many hardships on his way to becoming a saint.
So, how incredible was Bro. Andre’s ministry? “It should never have happened,” said Bro. Johnathan. As a child, Andre (born Alfred Bessete) was very sickly, and even almost died at birth. He came very close to death at many points in his life and was even asked to quit his position as doorman at St. Joseph’s College in Montreal due to his health. Had it not been for a visiting Superior Bishop, Andre would not have fulfilled his mission. Despite his constant health problems, Andre was widely known for curing the sick and lived a fulfilling life to the age of 91.
After his death in 1937, Andre would continue to cure the sick with two miracles attributed to his name. First, in 1958, a man who was diagnosed with cancer had prayed to Bro. Andre and was miraculously saved by his intercession. Next, in the 1990s, a young boy was saved from a coma and from death after his family prayed to Andre. In order to become a saint, one must have two post-death miracles attributed to their name, and in December, 2009, Pope Benedict officially acknowledged the second of these, bringing Andre one step closer to canonization.
Perhaps Bro. Andre’s most important characteristic, however, was his humility, says Bro. Johnathan. Andre was very careful about not calling attention to himself. Because it was a common practice in Catholicism to collect the clothing of saints after their deaths for relics, Andre would burn his own clothing to prevent people from doing so. The reason for Andre’s humility was his total devotion to St. Joseph. Whenever someone would marvel at Andre’s work, he would simply refer to himself as “St. Joseph’s little dog.”
After the official announcement by Pope Benedict on Bro. Andre brought a wave of excitement to the Congregation of Holy Cross that was even felt here at McNamara. “We’re having an opportunity to see someone who is very important in our community be elevated to a saint,” explained Mr. Justin McClain, Foreign Language Department, “We’ll have an intercessor who is much more powerful in his intercession.”
In order to make the community aware of the upcoming event, daily countdowns have been distributed throughout McNamara’s classes so that the students won’t forget the day. Also, on the daily afternoon announcements, there is a “Brother Andre Minute” to lead up to the 17th, which gives unique information about Andre and further prepares the student body.
Others within our community do not believe that the canonization will have much of an impact on our school, however. A group of anonymous seniors explained, “Nothing will change except the morning announcements.” Perhaps, but despite the impact that this event may have on our community, there is no doubt that it will serve as a landmark in history to the Congregation of Holy Cross throughout the world.
While the canonization will be held by Pope Benedict XVI in St. Peter’s Square, Vatican City, the main celebrations will be at Andre’s hometown of Montreal, Quebec, Canada. On October 30, at St. Joseph’s, the local Cardinal will be saying mass, while on the 31st, concerts will be held throughout the day. Tens of thousands are expected to show up for the ceremonies which will be expanded to the Olympic Stadium of Montreal. Bro. Beebe himself, along with about 50 of his resident brothers in New York, will be traveling to Montreal for the ceremonies while three of his peers will actually be attending the canonization in Rome.
With millions around the world preparing for the joyous day, the members of Holy Cross are anxiously awaiting the impact that the canonization will have on the Congregation. Bro. Johnathan firmly believes that the canonization will “change us for the better.” Anybody who wishes to watch the actual canonization can view it on http://seletlumieretv.org, which will begin an English video stream at 7:00pm ET on Saturday, October 16. Also, for a unique visual experience on the life of Brother Andre, you can visit the St. Joseph’s website at http://saint-joseph.org. Both websites are originally in French, however, but can be set to English from the top right corner of the homepage.