Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Solemn Thanksgiving Mass in Montreal In Honour of St. Andre Bessette, CSC

In honour of Brother Andre Bessette, CSC, who was officially canonized in Rome on October 17, a special thanksgiving and jubilation Mass was held on October 30 at the Olympic Stadium of Montreal, Canada. The main celebrant was Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte (Archbishop of Montreal) and his co-celebrants were Archbishop Pedro Lopez Quintana (Apostolic Nuncio to Canada), 58 Canadian Bishops and about 100 priests.

Among the government dignitaries present were Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Quebec's Lieutenant Governor Pierre Duchesne, and Quebec's Premier Jean Charest. Among about 45,000 attendees were also present a strong contingent of priests, Brothers and Sisters of the Congregation of Holy Cross in which Brother Andre also belonged. Thirty relatives and kins of Brother Andre were an added attraction.

The two-hour ceremony was mostly conducted in French. In his homily, Cardinal Turcotte said: "Brother Andre was a man of attentiveness and compassion. He left it up to all those who were unhappy -- rich or poor -- to approach him. Very often, he went to those who could not come to him. Almost every day, in his office, for hours and hours, he lent his ear. He made himself attentive to those who confided in him their misfortunes, their sufferings, their illnesses, their disappointments, their failures, their unhappiness... After listening, he comforted them. He called them to courage and hope. He exhorted them to trust in God. He prayed a lot for those who spoke to him. He prayed to God. He prayed to Mary. With fervour, he prayed to St. Joseph, he prayed before Christ on the Cross."

Cardinal Turcotte further added: "Brother Andre was convinced that God could use him to accomplish wonderful things. For many decades, people came to him as a worker of wonders. It never went to his head. In fact, he often said, 'The world is silly if it thinks that Brother Andre is doing miracles. It is the good God who does the miracles. Saint Joseph obtains them.' And, following Saint Paul, he said, in reference to God, 'An artist makes the most beautiful paintings with the smallest of brushes.'"

Finally, Cardinal Turcotte commented: "This is not a small Saint that has been canonized, but a great, great one. This great saint -- Brother Andre -- is from our home. Among our parents and grandparents, or among the friends of our parents and grandparents, many knew him. He lived close to us on Mount Royal and said, 'When I die, I'll be much closer to the good God than I am now, I will have much more power to help you.'"

On his way to the Olypmic Stadium before the Mass, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, for the first time, visited St. Joseph's Oratory for half-an-hour. Father Claude Grou, CSC, the rector of the Oratory, accompanied the prime minister in his visit to Brother Andre's original small wooden chapel, the main basilica, the tomb of Brother Andre, the relic containing the heart of Brother Andre, and the votive chapel having hundreds of lighted candles.

The Bangladesh Delegation

The Bangladesh Holy Cross delegation came to Montreal after attending Brother Andre's canonization ceremony in Rome. This delegation comprised of Bishop Patrick D'Rozario of Chittagong, Brother Binoy Gomes (Provincial of the Brothers of Holy Cross), Brother Jarlath D'Souza, Brother Nicholas Thielman, Brother Rodney Struble, Brother Robi Purification, Brother Placid Prodip Gomes, Brother Sylvester Mridha, and Brother Hamlet Francis Gosal.

Several dozen Bangladeshi Catholics from Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa also attended the ceremony in the Montreal stadium.

Before the Mass, the procession of bishops and priests toward the
main altar in the Olympic Stadium

A view of the participants of the Mass

Another part of the procession

The main altar where the Mass is being celebrated

A section of the participants in the stadium

Another section of the participants

Some other concelebrating priests among the participants

More participants!

Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte, the main celebrant of the Mass

Some members of the Bangladesh Holy Cross delegation and
some Bangladeshi Catholics from Toronto can be seen
in this section of the crowd

Some other members of the Congregation of Holy Cross
among the participants

Waving white linen participants express their solidarity

Members of a family waving their white linens

The crowd leaving the stadium after the ceremony
Photos (Montreal Olympic Stadium: October 30, 2010)
© Jerome D'Costa and Joachim Romeo D'Costa

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