Mercy Unbound - Brother Andre, St. Joseph, and Humility

Father Michael Delaney, CHC, is the rector of St. Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Today he shares his insights on the life of Saint Andre Bessette, “Brother Andre,” the first canonized saint in his Order, as well as St. Joseph’s Oratory. The Order was founded in France and is active in 16 countries. Their motto is, “The Cross is our only hope.”

A Simple Life of Humility

Andre’s parents died when he was young and he suffered from poor health. He was raised in a farming area about 45 minutes from Montreal and had a limited education. Andre was the perfect model of holiness and obedience and wanted only to do God’s Will. In addition, he had a deep devotion to Saint Joseph. In the worldly view, he had little to offer. Brother Andre was a lay Brother in the Congregation of Holy Cross. When he joined the Order they made his the porter, or doorman, at the school and he did that for many years. His bishop had written the order to ask them to consider allowing Andre to join and wrote, “I am sending you a saint, and it would be good for you to consider him.”

A Flood of Prayer Requests

While working as the doorman, he met and greeted many people daily. He would often tell them to pray for St. Joseph and people began to report healing after praying with him. At one point, he was receiving 80,000 letters a month asking for prayer.

The Birth of a National Shrine

He wanted to build a chapel to honor St. Joseph. The Archbishop gave him approval but said he could not go into debt. Eventually, that goal was achieved and thousands visited the oratory yearly. It is now a minor basilica and a Canadian National Shrine. The Order gives pilgrimages and retreats and the website is

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