Tour planned with relic of St. Brother André during 10th anniversary of canonization

St. Brother André Bessette (Photo from The Catholic Register, CCN)

By Mickey Conlon, The Catholic Register

Canadian Catholic News

[Toronto – CCN] – A major relic of St. Brother André Bessette is making its first appearance outside Quebec later this month as a precursor to a major tour planned for the 10th anniversary of the canonization of the Canadian saint.

A fragment of bone and a vial with small blood particles from Brother André’s heart, sitting on a piece of rock from Mount Royal in Montreal atop a piece of mahogany, is coming to three Toronto parishes in the Riverdale area, as well as the Divine Retreat Centre in Toronto’s northwest and St. Kevin’s Parish in Welland, Ont. The relic will be at Holy Name Parish on the Danforth Aug. 21 and in the morning of Aug. 25 at St. Joseph’s Parish on Leslie Street, moving to St. Ann’s near Broadview and Gerrard Street that afternoon.

All parishes on this mini-tour are staffed by priests from the Congregation of Holy Cross, the order in which St. André was a lay brother.

“We are just going to our own Holy Cross parishes and then we will make a bigger tour” taking in the whole country next year, said Fr. Jomon Kalladanthiyill, who is co-ordinating the relic’s tour.

Born André Bessette in Mont Saint-Gregoire southeast of Montreal, Br. André was a humble Holy Cross brother who was instrumental in the construction of St. Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal. He has been credited with many miraculous healings through his prayers for the sick and in the six days following his death in 1937 at age 91, up to a million people filed past his coffin which was surrounded by hundreds of crutches and canes from pilgrims who attested to his healing gifts. Those crutches and canes remain on display at St. Joseph’s Oratory. Pope Benedict canonized Brother André on Oct. 17, 2010.

The relic has toured the Montreal archdiocese and elsewhere in Quebec in the past, but will expand its reach in the year leading up to the 10th anniversary of Br. André’s canonization.

Kalladanthiyill said the time is right to start sharing the man and his legacy to people outside of Montreal and St. Joseph’s Oratory, where the relic is housed.

“It’s mainly getting the figure of Br. André known Canada-wide (and then) worldwide. He’s a beautiful saint of our time,” said Kalladanthiyill. “Simple people can associate with Brother André and get to know God more, praise and worship God more through Brother André.”

Fr. Francis Noronha, pastor at St. Joseph’s, didn’t take long to say yes when Kalladanthiyill asked if he would like the relic to visit his parish. Since word has spread, Noronha has seen a growing excitement among parishioners.

“I always feel moved to see what Brother André has done in his lifetime in Montreal at the Oratory and the number of people he was instrumental in healing through the intercession of St. Joseph,” said Noronha, who usually visits the Oratory at least once a year to celebrate Mass and pray at the saint’s tomb.

Plans are already underway for next year’s tour, which tentatively includes up to nine Toronto parishes, among them the new St. André Bessette Parish in Maple, north of the city.