Every August St. Joseph’s Oratory celebrates “Saint Brother André Month” to coincide with the anniversary of his birth, August 9.
For three days leading up to the anniversary, as part of a “triduum” of Masses, Fr. Jonas Saint-Martin, C.S.C., Director of Welcome and Pilgrimage Services, preached on who St. André was and what he means for the Church and the People of God today.
On the anniversary itself, over 300 people attended a birthday celebration on the terrace level which included a Carillion concert and birthday cake. In the words of Fr. Michael DeLaney, C.S.C., Rector of St. Joseph’s Oratory, “I think that Br. André would have enjoyed the music and the people who showed up to celebrate with us.”
The day’s celebrations culminated with a Solemn Mass in the main basilica, at which Fr. Parnel Manrose, C.S.C., Director of Liturgical Services, preached. Following the Mass, there was the traditional candlelit procession from the basilica down to the original chapel, where prayers were recited alongside the statue of St. André and under the glow of the Oratory’s great dome.
Other celebrations marked the month, including the sending of a group of four to World Youth Day in Portugal as part of the Oratory’s efforts to provide more ministry and outreach to young people.
“A priority for these years at the Oratory is focused ministry to young people, encouraging their lives of faith, their participation in the church, and the formation of community among themselves. Still, in a nascent stage, it is showing signs of growth,” said Fr. DeLaney.
Reflective of the community who worships at the Oratory, the group of four was made of young people originally from Burkina Faso, Haiti, Colombia, and Manitoba, Canada. They are all part of a wider group of students and young adults who meet weekly with Fr. Bernard Antoine, C.S.C., Vice Rector of Pastoral Life, and Fr. DeLaney for faith formation and community building.
“We truly see the development of this group over the next few years as a way in which the Holy Cross mission will become more deeply rooted in the life of Saint Joseph's Oratory,” said Fr. DeLaney.
Another important event was the reception of the International Peace Run, which chose the St. Joseph’s Oratory as one of its stops in Canada to recognize the Oratory’s mission as a symbol for peace in its welcome of the stranger and people from all backgrounds. The runners were received by Fr. DeLaney and Fr. Jerome José, Director of Pastoral Ministry.
“It was a great experience to talk with them and share some of the initiatives we are working on at the Oratory with immigrant communities, as well as participating with other groups across the city to promote peace and understanding,” said Fr. DeLaney. “Runners were from many countries and spent time visiting the Oratory and the tomb of Br. André.”
Bringing the month to a close, the last Sunday was the annual pilgrimage to Mont-Saint-Grégoire, the birthplace of Saint André. The pilgrimage has taken place for over 65 years, and this edition saw eight full buses leaving from the Oratory in the morning, the prayers beginning en route. There were both veterans and newcomers.
Arriving at the parish church where Alfred Bessette was baptized, the pilgrims celebrated Mass with the Most Rev. Christian Rodembourg M.S.A., Bishop of the Diocese of Saint-Hyacinthe, and a grand friend of Holy Cross.
After lunch and some leisure time, the pilgrims stopped by the site of St. André’s family home and prayed at a memorial dedicated to him before returning to the Oratory.