I was ordained June 12, 2004 by his excellency Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput. I remember him telling us at an early breakfast meeting that morning that if we didn’t feel worthy… if we weren’t certain whether we should move forward with ordination, that it wasn’t us (alone) in this decision. Rather, the Church had been looking at us, educating us, interviewing us for four years. The Church had decided that we were actually ‘called and chosen’ and that we ought to move forward with our ordination later that morning.
And so I was ordained. In my living room, I have a framed photograph of me kneeling before the Archbishop as he prayed and laid hands on my head. Just like bishops have been doing in clergy ordinations for millennia.
Within four months of ordination, I had developed a heart arrhythmia and two other strange and scary health problems… not the least of which was a suspected cancer on my pancreas. The pancreas is the digestive organ that handles food we eat. So if your pancreas develops cancer – it’s almost always fatal. Sorry for this lead-in, but I’m getting to the point of this experience. About a week or so before surgery for my suspected cancer – I came upon a small copy of the life story of Frer Andre… better known as then Blessed Andre Bessette whose memorial the Church celebrates on January 6th. I loved reading about him… he has been credited with thousands of cures. And his fame in Canada and elsewhere spread so widely – that he received upwards of 80,000 letters per year. It was necessary for him to have secretaries to help open and respond to mail at his direction.
Long story short, I finished his life story just (JUST!) before under-going surgery. I read something about a stomach ailment that someone was apparently healed from. and so I added my prayers of petition to Blessed Andre Bessette to intercede for me as I underwent stomach surgery. They opened me wide open… I mean wide open… and when they went inside – they couldn’t find anything … even though they were certain they saw ‘something’ on previous scans and such. Now I can’t claim any cure – and I don’t want to suggest anything to you about my situation. But I’ve never forgotten Blessed Andre Bessette. I still say prayers to him and I’d like to thank him for any help he’s given me or anyone else.
The one thing I want to say about St. Andre is that he had a very strong devotion to St. Joseph, the father of Jesus. Andre used to give people small vials of ordinary oil that was in a lamp that burned before a statue of St. Joseph. Dr. Miravalle of Franciscan University said in a podcast that it is estimated that a half million miracles were attributed to prayerful use of Oil of St. Joseph given to people by St. Andre Bessette. I have a few vials of this oil if you are interested in more information.
I mention all this because I’ve developed a strong devotion to St. Joseph. I’ve just re-done a consecration to St. Joseph…. my second such action in two years. And I was so pleased that our Holy Father has named this the Year dedicated to St. Joseph. The same St. Joseph that heard the prayers of St. Andre and interceded for hundreds of thousands of ill or troubled folks.
In making his declaration, the Pope noted that the 2020-2021 period marks the 150th anniversary of the saint’s proclamation as patron of the Universal Church by Pope Pius IX on Dec. 8, 1870.
And the Holy Father Francis reminded us that St. Joseph was the protector of Jesus and Mary, and that Joseph may well help us in this worldwide Covid pandemic.
My prayerful recommendation is that you find a good story of the life of Andre Bessette, and after reading that, find a copy of Fr. Donald Calloway’s book on the Consecration to St. Joseph.“Each of us can discover in Joseph — the man who goes unnoticed, a daily, discreet and hidden presence — an intercessor, a support and a guide in times of trouble.” So wrote our current Holy Father. And so writes this man who believes in the power of these two men. © 2021 Deacon Tom Fox @ firstname.lastname@example.org