Brother André to be canonized Sunday

Photo: Courtesy of Canadian Museum of Civilization

Brother André (born Alfred Bessette), ca. 1920.

Brother André, the founder of St. Joseph's Oratory of Mount Royal, will be canonized Sunday in Rome by Pope Benedict XVI.In addition to founding the Oratory, Brother André, born Alfred Bessette in 1845, was credited with having miraculously cured many people. He died in Montreal in 1937 at the age of 91.He founded St. Joseph's Oratory in 1904.  The process to make Brother André a saint has taken nearly 60 years, the push to begin the sainthood proceedings beginning in 1941.  Brother André was declared venerable in 1978 and he was beatified by Pope Jean-Paul II in 1982.  Brother André was born in the countryside south of Montreal, into a family of ten children.  Orphaned at 13 and unable to read and write, he spent 13 years wandering before his parish priest presented him to the Congregation of the Holy Cross to become a vowed brother.  At the age of 28, Brother André made his permanent vows and was assigned a position as porter at Notre-Dame College in Montreal. Durocher said Brother André also worked as a receptionist and a janitor after school hours.According to the Vatican and the priests who were close to Brother André, he found a great attachment to St. Joseph, Jesus' adoptive father, and recommended to the people he met to pray to God through the intersection of St. Joseph. He would entrust the sick people to St. Joseph's prayers and often, the people would become suddenly healed, many of them poor people from Montreal.Approximately 10 million people have signed petitions over the last several decades calling for his canonization. When Brother André died, witnesses said that nearly one million people braved the bad weather to pay their respects.At the end of 2009, Pope Benedict XVI recognized a miraculous cure caused by Brother André's intervention, paving the way for his elevation to sainthood.Brother André's canonization will take place 20 years after that of Marie-Marguerite d'Youville, who founded the Sisters of Charity of Montreal, the "Grey Nuns", a ceremony Pope Jean-Paul II performed in 1990.