Saint André Bessette, 1845-1937
Alfred Bessette was born to a working class family near Montreal on August 9, 1845. His father died when he was nine and his mother when he was twelve. He lived with an aunt and uncle, but because he was often in poor health, he didn’t get much education and could barely read or write.
Prayerful and devout from childhood, his pastor suggested that he join the Congregation of Holy Cross, where he took the name Brother André. Because of his lack of education, he served as doorkeeper and receptionist at Notre Dame College in Côte-des-Neiges, Quebec and did other manual jobs like washing the floor and bringing in firewood. He did his humble duties without complaining, joking about his job as a doorkeeper by saying that he came to the College, he was shown the door, and stayed for 40 years.
All his life, Saint André had a special devotion to Saint Joseph. Over the years, many miraculous cures were attributed to his prayers, although he always insisted that the credit be given to Saint Joseph. Because of his love for Saint Joseph, he worked tirelessly to have a church built in his honor. In 1924 he helped oversee the construction of a basilica named Saint Joseph's Oratory near a chapel he had helped build earlier.
When Saint André died in 1937 at the age of 91, a million people filed by his coffin. He was declared a Saint by Pope Benedict XVI on October 17, 2010.
Discuss: Explain how Saint André lived a humble life.
Do What You Can
Brother André is an example of someone who took small steps to climb a mountain. Lead the young people through this reflection: