January 6: Blessed Andre Bessette
Alfred Bessette was born on August 9, 1845, not far from Montreal, Canada. He was the eighth of twelve children. When Alfred was nine, his father, a wood cutter, died in an accident at work. Three years later, Alfred's mother died of tuberculosis, leaving the children orphans. They were split up and placed in different homes. Alfred went to live with his aunt and uncle.
Because his family had been so poor and he was often sick, Alfred had very little education. So for the next thirteen years he tried learning different trades like farming, shoemaking and baking. He even worked in a factory in Connecticut. But his health always failed him.
When Alfred was twenty-five, he joined the order of Holy Cross and chose the name Brother Andre. He spent the next forty years as a general maintenance man and messenger. The remaining years of his life were spent as the doorkeeper for the order's college. Here, Brother Andre's healing power became known. When people came to ask him for a cure, he would tell them to first thank God for their suffering because it was so valuable. Then he would pray with them. Most of them were cured. Brother Andre always refused credit for the healing. He insisted it had been the person's faith and the power of St. Joseph.
Brother Andre had a great love for the Eucharist and for St. Joseph. When he was young, he dreamt he saw a big church, but he couldn't tell where it was. Gradually, he came to realize that God wanted a church in honor of St. Joseph. That church was to be built on top of Mount Royale in Montreal, Canada. Prayer and the sacrifices of Brother Andre and many other people made the dream come true. The magnificent church honoring St. Joseph was built. It is a testimony to Brother Andre's tremendous faith. Pilgrims come to Mount Royale all year and from distant places. They want to honor St. Joseph. They want to show their trust in his loving care, as Brother Andre did.
Brother Andre died peacefully on January 6, 1937. Nearly a million people climbed Mount Royale to St. Joseph's Oratory for his funeral.
They came in spite of sleet and snow to say good-bye to their dear friend. He was proclaimed "blessed" on May 23, 1982, by Pope John Paul II.
Blessed Andre Bessette believed not in himself but in the power of Godís love for him. In him we can see that God reveals his power shining through our human weakness.