Saint Brother André and Devotion to Saint Joseph

When Brother André entered the Congregation of Holy Cross in 1870, the community had already been established in Montréal for 23 years. Its founder, Father Basil Moreau, CSC, had a great devotion to Saint Joseph. Frequently, he urged his spiritual sons and daughters to turn to Saint Joseph to honor him and to love him. He also suggested to them to spread the devotion to the people with whom they were working.

Basile Moreau

In 1860, Father Moreau evoked all the efforts made in France over the past 20 years to make Saint Joseph known and loved by the students entrusted to the community. Seeing the interest aroused by this great saint, Father Moreau wrote to his religious: “I implore you once again to propagate this cult as much as it depends on you and to ask this great saint … that he obtains for us the grace not to hinder in any way the work that God has deigned to entrust to us, but to assist in everything, his plans, by refusing no sacrifice to his grace; that is to say, to no longer judge, feel, speak and act except by the movement of his Spirit.”

In joining the family of Holy Cross, Brother André found there fertile ground for communicating his affection for Joseph and for making that devotion grow throughout all the country and beyond.

The day after his funeral in January 1937, the Superior General of the Congregation, Father James Donahue, CSC, recognized the invaluable contribution of Brother André, making the Oratory on Mount Royal the centre of devotion to Saint Joseph in the modern world.

“In choosing him to be the apostle of devotion to Saint Joseph, God made him the cornerstone of Holy Cross in Canada,” wrote Father Donahue. He saw in the life and ministry of Brother André the realization of a mission confided by God to Holy Cross in fidelity to one of Father Basil Moreau’s most cherished wishes.

In 1954, it was the Golden Jubilee of the Oratory. Cardinal Paul-Emile Léger recalled the providential ministry performed by the religious of Holy Cross following Brother André. “Saint Joseph’s Oratory,” he said, “built as a grand testament to faith, remains above all a pinnacle of hope. Go to Joseph! Go to Joseph to find the nourishment you need, to draw from it that strength that you lack, and to discover that light which is hope.” At the Oratory, Saint Joseph sows an abundant hope which allows all those who seek it to find meaning in life.

After beatification by Pope John Paul II in May of 1982, the canonization by Pope Benedict XVI on October 17, 2010 was the result of a 70 year process supported by the persevering prayer of all the friends of Brother André and Saint Joseph. They never doubted the holiness of Brother André, who led us to realize the importance of Saint Joseph as a guide and support in our lives.

In this year of the 10th anniversary of the canonization, the family of Holy Cross, joined by many lay collaborators, still assumes the continuation of the ministry of Saint Brother André.

Frère André Chapelle

For us, Saint Joseph is a companion of hope capable of guiding pilgrims on their journey of faith and commitment. We are inspired by Joseph’s confident attitude towards the Lord. It is the same attitude that marked, in an important way, the prayer and commitment of Saint Brother André. Throughout his life, he bade us experience this intimate dialogue with God: to let God love us, to speak to us and to guide us in our commitments to the service of others, especially to the most needy.

Let us thank the Lord; let us pray that he may raise up witnesses who want to continue this work blessed by God: Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal.

Jean-Pierre Aumont, CSC