August was a special month at Saint Joseph's Oratory in Montreal as it honored the anniversary of St. André Bessette’s birth on August 9. Although the pandemic forced a modification of events, the Oratory still provided several opportunities for pilgrims to pray and to learn about our Congregation’s first saint.
The “Saint Brother André Triduum” from August 7-9 led the month off with daily Masses broadcasted live on national radio and Facebook Live. The theme of these days, "Saint Brother André: Friend, Brother and Saint," was reinforced with each homily focusing on the life and spirituality of Brother André.
On Sunday, August 9, the 175th anniversary of Brother André’s birth, the main Mass in the Basilica was celebrated by Fr. Claude Grou, C.S.C., while other Masses in French, English, and Spanish were available throughout the day. Special prayers to St. André were also recited after every Mass held during August.
In 2016, the Canadian bishops declared St. Brother André as Patron of Caregivers. In light of this, on August 16 the Oratory honored those who are caregivers in our families and religious communities, and most especially, the caregivers of those affected by the coronavirus. The Oratory hopes to promote this special role of St. André to caregivers and clinics in our ministries and communities throughout the Congregation.
To conclude the month of St. André, on August 30, Mass in French and Spanish was celebrated in the open air on the beautiful grounds of Saint Joseph's Oratory. Later in the evening, the traditional, evening procession to the original chapel took place.
Normally on the last Sunday of August, hundreds of pilgrims travel to Saint-Grégoire, St. André’s birthplace. Due to Covid-19 travel restrictions, this pilgrimage was postponed along with the Sunday Organ Concerts, and the open-air musical concerts held at the front of the Oratory, and the special exhibitions in the Museum.
Despite the various restrictions, St. Joseph’s Oratory continues to strive in creative ways to meet the spiritual needs of the faithful, evidenced by the 175th anniversary of Brother André’s birth, and in October, when the Oratory will celebrate the 10th anniversary of Brother Andre’s canonization.