Celebrating Saint André Bessette

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by Patricia Mathson

CLICK HERE for a fun activity page about St. André Bessette.

The life of André Bessette shows us that we can be saints even in the busyness of everyday life. André was a doorkeeper for 40 years. He didn’t found an order; he didn’t travel the world as a missionary; he could barely read and write. But he was a person of prayer and compassion for people who were sick. And in October 2010, he was declared a saint of the Catholic Church. 

Difficult Early Years

Alfred Bessette lived in Canada. His father died in a work accident when Alfred was 9 years old. Then his mother became sick and died when he was 12 years old.

Alfred had little education and was often sick. He tried a variety of jobs over the years, which included farming and factory work. Even though life was difficult for him, Alfred was always a person of faith in God. 

Compassion for the Sick

When Alfred was 25 years old, he became a Brother of the Holy Cross and took the name André. His job was to answer the door at Notre Dame College in Montreal, which was run by his order.

This humble person welcomed all who came to the door. He shared God’s love. He was a person of compassion and went to visit people who were sick in their homes, and they also came to see him.  

Devotion to St. Joseph

Brother André had a great devotion to St. Joseph and encouraged people to ask this saint to pray for them. He worked to have a shrine built to honor St. Joseph, but André died before it was completed.

Today, two million people visit this church in Montreal each year. Brother André died in 1937. He was declared a saint in October 2010. We celebrate his example of faith on January 6. 

What Can We Do?

* Let’s be “welcoming people” like St. André was. Let’s think about how we can welcome people who are new to our school or new to our church or new to our country. How can we reach out to others?
* Let’s learn about the Congregation of the Holy Cross, the order to which St. André belonged. We can look up the order’s work around the world at holycrosscongregation.org. One of their ministries is André House in Phoenix, AZ, which serves those who are homeless and poor. 
* Let’s talk about St. Joseph, for whom St. André had a special devotion. Saint Joseph is the patron saint of Canada and of the Universal Church. Saint Joseph was always faithful to what God asked of him. We can ask St. Joseph to pray for us as St. André did.


God of Love, we honor St. André Bessette as a saint of your kingdom. From his example of faith, may we learn that you call each of us to serve you. Help us to be people of compassion as he was and to welcome others in your name. Amen. 

Patricia Mathson has many years experience in faith formation as a DRE and holds a Master of Religious Education degree. She is currently the children’s ministry coordinator at Hope Family Center in Des Moines, IA. She is the author of ten books with the latest titled
70 Sacrament Starters for Children (Twenty-Third Publications).

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