In a letter sent earlier this morning, September 25, Fr. Robert L. Epping, C.S.C., Superior General, invited all members of the Congregation of Holy Cross to prepare with joy for the upcoming 10th anniversary of the canonization of St. André Bessette.
Fr. Epping referred to October 17, 2020, as “a wonderful and awesome date for celebrating” as it was on that date, 10 years ago in St. Peter’s Square in Rome, that Pope Benedict XVI canonized Br. André Bessette, making this humble brother the Congregation’s first canonized saint.
“We believe many of our priests and brothers have lived virtuous and holy lives through our 183 years,” wrote Fr. Epping, “yet Saint André’s canonization assures us that true holiness is possible for us if we abide faithfully according to our Constitutions and Statutes, our rule of life sanctioned by the Church. This anniversary reminds us of the perennial value of our call, the vocation of holiness in Holy Cross.
“The whole Congregation has been blessed abundantly because the Lord has raised up a remarkable man in our Brother André,” he added.
Fr. Epping recognized that the global pandemic will not allow the Congregation to celebrate and give thanks as it had hoped and planned. While there will be many celebrations to mark the anniversary throughout the world, most of those will be more intimate events among Holy Cross religious.
Fr. Epping also announced that to mark the anniversary, the Congregation will be posting videos by Holy Cross religious exploring the life of St. André every Saturday leading up to October 17. The first of those videos, by Fr. Jimmy Mathew of the Province of South India, reflections on how St. André is a friend to us.
Additionally, resources to help celebrate the anniversary have been prepared by the Congregation’s Consecrated Life for Commission and are available for download on the Congregation’s website, including prayers to St. André, a photo gallery of his life and canonization, and suggested readings and Mass texts.
At the same time, beyond the celebrations and other initiatives to mark the anniversary, Fr. Epping invited the religious of Holy Cross to look again to the life of Br. André as an inspiration and motivation to grow in holiness. He reminded his fellow religious that the Congregation’s founder, Blessed Basile Moreau, wrote that the first goal or ends of Holy Cross was “the perfection of individuals by the practice of the evangelical counsels."
“The holiness of each of us must be our basic motivation to be brothers, sisters, and priests of Holy Cross,” Fr. Epping wrote. “In a simple, humble, and low-key way, let each Holy Cross Religious give thanks to God for his or her vocation and the vocation to Holy Cross of our Brother, André Bessette, and ask Saint André to mentor each of us to achieve the primary raison-d’être of Blessed Basil’s foundation, holiness through the Congregation of Holy Cross.”
It is a call that certainly reverberates in the hearts of Holy Cross religious and their collaborators throughout the world.
“Now with Brother Andre’s canonization having occurred a decade ago, St. André serves as a role model to all Christians seeking holiness,” said Br. Chester Freel, C.S.C., the former Provincial Superior of the Midwest Province, who was one of the Holy Cross religious who attended the canonization in Rome. “More specifically, as members of the same religious community as Brother Andre, we in Holy Cross are challenged to emulate his acts of hospitality, to replicate his constant attention to prayer for those in need, and to follow his faithfulness to God in the vocation to which we have been called.
“For me personally just as was true 10-years ago, I continue to pray that St. Andre’s canonization remains a source of blessing, hope, and affirmation for all who follow in his footsteps as a Brother of Holy Cross,” said Br. Freel.