St. André: A humble heart of service

Author: Jimena Arrieta Núñez

Jimena Arrieta Núñez

If there's something that moves my heart, it is service, and the example that guided my life in this regard was presented to me very early by my parents: love for Jesus.

I grew up in a family where faith was—and is—our driving force through prayer, entrusting our lives to God, giving thanks for meals, attending Mass together, praising with music and songs, and being people who live lives of service in the style of Jesus, recognizing and valuing the dignity of all, welcoming, listening, and recognizing the needs of others to take action.

From a young age, I was connected to the Congregation of Holy Cross. By Divine Providence, my parents, who are teachers, met while teaching at a Holy Cross school: Nuestra Señora de Andacollo in Chile. They got married in the parish of the same name, and their four children, two boys and two girls, were born there. I am the second daughter, and following the family vocation, I became a teacher too.

For the past 26 years, I've worked at another Holy Cross school in Chile, Saint George's College, where my three daughters, who are now professionals (journalist, teacher, and nurse) studied. I started as a primary homeroom teacher, and three years ago, I was invited to coordinate campus ministry work full-time with students aged 11 to 15 and their families.

I met St. André Bessette about 30 years ago, and what impressed me the most was how a person with such simplicity, respect, and affection could touch the hearts of others. In his humble way, he offered the only thing he had: giving his time to listen and his prayer through the intercession of St. Joseph.

Read other reflections on Holy Cross spirituality

Br. Andre Bessette

Today, we live in times where stopping is a challenge and listening to others has become uncommon, as it seems more important to talk about ourselves. Placing our hope in the only hope, the risen Jesus, seems somewhat forgotten. Where are we placing our hope? In material things? In money? In the fame provided by social media? In our individuality?

When we place our hope in Jesus, the joy we radiate is so evident. I imagine St. André outside the school where he worked, giving hope, hugs, words of comfort, and prayer. What a beautiful way to change the world into a kinder one!

That is the great invitation St. André extends to the world today: return to simplicity, connect with others, synchronize our hearts to feel with others, think more about the common good, and above all, trust. Trust in the presence of a loving God who chose us long before we were born to be happy.

And so, I invite us to pray together:

Lord Jesus,
grant us a humble heart,
one that can see the hearts of others,
arms that can embrace,
ears to listen fraternally,
and words that invite prayer
and bring comfort to others.

Help us be messengers of your Word
through our actions,
just as your servant St. André did.

St. André Bessette, pray for us.

Jimena Arrieta Núñez

This reflection for the Feast of St. André Bessette, the first canonized saint of the Congregation of Holy Cross, was written by Jimena Arrieta Núñez from Chile. For 26 years, she has worked at St. George’s College in Santiago, a school run by the Congregation’s District of Chile-Peru, first as a primary homeroom teacher and now as the Director of Campus Ministry for the Middle School Unit.