Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
March 8, 2010
Br. Andre's pending sainthood applauded
Humble visionary founded St. Joseph's Oratory in Montreal
THE CATHOLIC REGISTER
MONTREAL - Just 73 years after his death, Brother Andre Bessette will become the first Canadian-born man elevated to sainthood.
The news of the Holy Cross brother's Oct. 17 canonization, one of six announced by Pope Benedict Feb. 19, was met with elation by the members of the Church in Montreal.
"The announcement of the canonization of Brother Andre is the best thing that could have happened this year for the Church of Montreal," Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte said in a statement.
"I have always been impressed by this man, both a humble man and a visionary, a man of deep faith, an example of determination still relevant today in 2010.
"For us, he is a symbol of victory. It is like winning a gold medal at the Olympics," the cardinal said later.
"His sainthood is important, not only for Catholics, but for all people who believe in God and who come to his basilica to find peace, even if they don't use the same name for God as we do."
Born Alfred Bessette, Brother Andre was the founder of St. Joseph's Oratory in Montreal, the largest shrine dedicated to St. Joseph in the world. The shrine sits atop Mount Royal overlooking the northern half of the city.
Two days after Pope Benedict's announcement, the oratory had no lack of pilgrims filing past Brother Andre's tomb.
One young woman, who would not reveal her name, stopped and prayed at the various stations depicting St. Joseph's life that lead to Brother Andre's crypt.
"I come often because I'm a believer and it's renewing," she said.
Like many people who stopped at Brother Andre's tomb, she was not there because of the news, but because she found tangible peace and a deepening faith experience in her visits.
The oratory is a place where more than two million people flock every year.
Father Jean-Pierre Aumont, provincial superior of the Congregation of Holy Cross in Canada, said, "(Brother Andre) is the first member of our community declared a saint throughout the world and for our congregation, this declaration is a real source of pride. But it invites us as well to follow Brother Andre's example, follow his footsteps simply, with a vision and conviction."
To the people of Quebec, he was "one of us," somebody with simplicity and a great heart for others, Aumont said.
As the oratory's rector for 12 years, Aumont said he has heard countless stories of how Brother Andre touched people's lives before his death Jan. 9, 1937, and how he continues to reach people to this day.
"Life today is no easier than it was during the time of Brother Andre," Aumont said. "Many people are faced with poverty, sickness, unstable jobs and solitude."
Claude Poulin, founder of Maison Andre-Bessette, a home for teens recovering from drug and alcohol addiction in St-Frederic de Beauce, Quebec, said he was moved, but not surprised, by the news from the Vatican.
Inspired by Brother Andre since his first visit to the oratory as a boy, Poulin opened the home about 10 years ago. He said Brother Andre communicates five major values which he shares with the people he welcomes: work, prayer, ecology, hospitality and living humbly.
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