Editorial Note: This post is a part of our saint devotion series, in which one of our staff or faculty members explores their relationship with a particular saint.
Saint André Bessette was a Congregation of Holy Cross brother with a deep veneration to St. Joseph, whose intercession André attributed to the many physical healings he witnessed. André’s post as door-keeper at Notre Dame College in Montreal, Canada evolved when people began to experience physical healings after meeting with him. Eventually, André saved up $200 from his work as a barber to build a shrine to St. Joseph across the street from Notre Dame College, where he met and prayed with pilgrims seeking healing. While there is little in common between André’s ministry in Quebec and mine for Echo, the McGrath Institute’s two-year graduate service program, I am regularly inspired by André’s presence to the other, and his confidence in directing others to Christ.
I strive to emulate André’s ministry because I am inspired by his presence to his friends, which directed them toward Jesus. André’s friends appreciated their bonds with him, which were “of a very real and heartfelt affection.” André used these bonds not to draw people to himself; rather, they were kindling to fuel his friends’ relationships with God. “We should be attached only to God,” André often reminded his friends (Bernard Lafrenière, CSC, Brother André, According to Witnesses, 126).
Inspired by André, I seek to set a space where students authentically share their experience and grow in relationship with their colleagues and intentional faith community. Each spring, I meet with each Echo student and his or her mentor via Zoom. These conversations help students look back at their first or second year of service, communal living, and graduate theology, as well as prepare for their second year of service or for the next steps after graduation. Students engage questions like, “What’s going well? What’s difficult? Are there any next steps to maximize what’s going well and address what’s challenging?” I’ve been inspired by students who have not only come to the realization that there is something they can do to improve their relationship with a colleague or community member but have also taken that next step. I’m also proud of students who have engaged with a professional or communal challenge, and came to realize in the process that the difficulty was beyond their sphere of influence. Instead of quitting or demanding the impossible, students often name and manage their expectations in order to find new avenues for support.
Like St. André, I strive to be present to students. My presence supports their creativity in developing authentic, honest, and appropriate relationships with their colleagues and community members. I continue to be inspired by the fruits of the Echo students’ local relationships, which include patience, the ability to see and respond to the other’s needs, and, occasionally, vibrant marks of inner healing.
To download a free custom phone wallpaper featuring St. André, click the button below.