Saint Joseph’s Oratory

From the life of
Blessed Brother Andre

Saint Joseph and the Christ child

The dream to build a Shrine befitting
Saint Joseph

They came; they prayed; they left
changed. But Brother André knew his work was not over. And so, although
now past sixty, he forged ahead with his dream to build a towering,
magnificent Shrine, paying homage and loving respect to the man who
cared for Jesus most of His life on earth.

For almost thirty years of his final
days on earth, Brother André worked, begged and prayed toward the
fulfillment of that dream. He never used words like visions and
apparitions or inner locutions. But as you read about his life, and
between the lines, you can still see the Hand of God and that of His
Mother Mary and foster father Saint Joseph, infusing him with this
dream, and giving him the many gifts which would attract the Faithful to
help to bring about this dream. For, as a holy priest once said, “It
has always been the laity who have fostered devotions.”

The work on the gigantic, magnificent
Shrine went at a snail’s pace, the Superiors of the Community insisting
it be a pay-as-you-go project, no debts! But André never lost hope! He
just kept walking toward that goal, although he knew he would never see
it. His eyes and heart already set on saluting it from afar, he would
often say, “I will not see the completion of the Oratory, but the
work will be done. It is not my project, anyway. It’s Saint Joseph’s.

And at that moment, if you looked in his eyes, they would appear to be
twinkling, almost playfully. But looking closer, you could not
fail to see that peace, that calm assurance, shining with anticipation
of things to come, that only doing the Will of God can produce. He
prayed that row upon row of stones would mount until they reached the
top, and the glorious tribute to St. Joseph would be completed.

He never became discouraged. Neither
did the Faithful who continued to come from the nearest and the farthest
regions of Canada and the United States. As man was destroying the fine
monuments to the Glory of God, God’s houses, our churches, in Canada a
man of faith walked toward a dream, not looking behind him or to
what was before him. He, like Jesus, lived the moment. The walls finally
rose thirty feet above Mount Royal, towering over the countryside,
visible from thirty miles around, a message of hope to a world gone mad.
However, the roof was still not completed.

In 1931, man was too busy getting
over wholesale decadence of the flapper days of the twenties, and
heading toward the worldwide depression of the thirties, as well as the
prospects of total annihilation at the hands of the Nazis in Europe to

a Shrine to Saint Joseph. They were
counting on human resources for their answers, and as always they would
be betrayed, and God would bring them back to Himself. The Shrine,
without a roof, stood like a giant open crater, not a fitting home for
the Lord or for His foster-father Joseph. Although now in his eighties,
and suffering from the same ulcerated pains in his stomach he had known
all his life, Brother André went begging for money. Because of the Great
Depression, there was little money other than for survival. But that did
not stop Brother André from traveling to the United States and to every
hamlet of Canada.

But, sadly, there
was just no money; years later, in 1936, the Provincial called a meeting
to decide whether to keep on going or to abandon the project, as
hopeless. Incredulous that they should, for one moment consider stopping
the project, this man of faith once again, insisted; “It’s not mywork; it’s Saint Joseph’s!”

Blessed Brother Andre click here

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