Br. André canonization a wake-up call for Quebec

  • March 5, 2010
{mosimage}The canonization of Br. André next October should serve as a wake-up call for the Catholic Church in Quebec, said Fr. Alain Faubert, assistant to the vicar general of the Montreal archdiocese.

“I hope we would seize the moment and re-propose the faith to our society — not just to those who attend our Sunday liturgies and our other activities, but also to the larger public of all origins and spiritual traditions,” Faubert said.

Faubert cautions people not to expect a surge in Catholics attending Mass this year. The canonization of Br. André will not be a magical antidote to the past decades of public discontent with the church. At the same time, he said, it is an occasion for the church to re-examine its faith tradition through a better lens.

“The person of Br. André gives us an occasion to see that the Christian faith and the Catholic faith in Quebec is the product of the fruits of compassion and solidarity and still today, we can revisit that faith which is the faith of my own father, my mother, my grandparents, our grandparents,” Faubert said.

Pope Benedict XVI announced Feb. 19 that Br. André — born Alfred Bessette and founder of Montreal’s St. Joseph’s Oratory — would be canonized Oct. 17 along with five others at the Vatican. He will be Canada’s first Canadian-born male saint.

Whether they know it or not, the people of Quebec are very much rooted in a faith tradition that shaped them over the course of several centuries, Faubert said, and should realize that there is some good in that.

“This could be an occasion for our church to invite people to revisit these roots and to find within Br. André not simply a model or someone inaccessible, but a source and an inspiration who continues to live with us today.”

Nathalie Dumas, an employee of St. Joseph’s Oratory, said the canonization will surely pique people’s interest and, through Br. André, they may be able to see how prayer fits into a busy life.

“We are looking for careers, power and money, and Br. André shows us that we can have projects and dreams (like he had with building the Oratory) but that we can work together and have a healthy rhythm to our lives. Br. André is a definite example of prayer even though he had a very busy schedule.”

As editor in chief of the Oratory Magazine, Dumas said that while she has seen many stories written by people with memories of Br. André, more and more she is seeing accounts from the grandchildren of people who met Br. André as they seek answers about their family’s faith.

“I’m sure Br. André has a message for our time and for our way of living, because although we look at the lives of the saints, I think the point is that what the saint has to offer me is a relationship with God,” said Dumas.

She said people need to forget about the rigid practices that turned people away from the church and be cognizant of the reality many Catholics enjoy today.

“Before, it was like everybody had to do the same thing in their prayers and today it is more personal,” she said.

“Today, prayer is more of a personal relationship with God, which the church wants us to experience with their help.”

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