On Saturday morning, Dec. 19, as most Notre Dame students had just headed home for a well deserved Christmas break, Pope Benedict the XVI made an exciting announcement for the Congregation of Holy Cross. The Holy Father acknowledged as scientifically inexplicable, a healing due to the intercession of Blessed Brother André. The vice postulator for the cause of the canonization of Brother André, Father Mario Lachapelle, CSC, indicated, "The road to the canonization of Brother André is now open!" In Rome, the Superior General of the Congregation of Holy Cross, Father Hugh Cleary, CSC, said, "What a grace for our religious family, to count among its ranks such a model of the Christian life offered to the world, a true inspiration for a welcoming, compassionate presence. Such good news!"
Brother approved for canonization
This news brought great joy and excitement to all in the Congregation of Holy Cross, but perhaps more so at André House in Phoenix, Arizona. André House began in 1984 when two Holy Cross priests who had been at Notre Dame moved into a rented house with the intention of living with and serving people who are poor. They were taking a page from Dorothy Day's Catholic Worker movement. Because they desired to share the same kind of hospitality with the people who came to their door as Br. André showed to the many who came to him for prayer and seeking healing, they named this new ministry after the saintly brother.
"For this news about Br. André's approval for canonization to come this year as we celebrate our 25th Anniversary is a tremendous blessing," says Br. Richard Armstrong, CSC, a Holy Cross brother who has been working at André House for 23 years. André House has grown since its humble beginning. After starting with just one simple house, André House has grown to have two transitional houses, one for men and one for women, as well as a hospitality center where they serve over 650 meals a night, offer showers, laundry, clothing, blankets and many other services to people in need. The majority of the staff of André House consists of lay volunteers who commit themselves to a year of service. For many years most came from Notre Dame. Today the CSC at Notre Dame sends students to André House over Spring Break and André House is a popular site for the Summer Service Learning Program.
"Just as we had a great celebration in January around the Feast of Blessed Br. André to mark our 25th Anniversary, when Rome announces a date for the official canonization of Br. André, I know that we plan appropriate celebrations here," says Fr. Eric Schimmel, CSC, Director of André House. And as this ministry has deep ties to Notre Dame, he is looking forward to having a couple of recent alums serving on staff during this incredible year. There are still openings to serve on the Core Staff at André House next year. For more information, you may go to their website at: www.andrehouse.org
Fr. Eric Schimmel, CSC
Class of 1994 and 2001
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.