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Brother André: An Ordinary, but Great Love

Mary Rose Bacani Valenti

Monday, August 23, 2010

Fr. Andrew Gawrych greeted me with a smile, one humid summer’s day in July at Notre Dame University in Indiana.  He had just arrived to take up his new position as Associate Vocations Director for the Indiana Province of the Congregation of Holy Cross --- a big job for a newly ordained young American priest!  Our Salt + Light crew filmed him talking about what he believes is Brother André Bessette’s profound approach to suffering.  Stay tuned October of this year for the Salt + Light production on the life, the heart, and the legacy of Brother André Bessette.
This is the second of a series of blogs on the legacy of Brother André.
By Fr. Andrew Gawrych, CSC
At the time I met Brother Donald Kuchenmeister, CSC, I had not yet heard of Blessed Brother André.  Brother Donald was the Holy Cross brother who ran the orphanage and foster home in Santiago, Chile, where I lived and worked as an exchange student back in 2000.  The orphanage, named Hogar Santa Cruz, was home to 30 children from as young as 3 or 4 to as old as 18.  Like all children the world over, they were easy to love.  But like all children who had lived through such suffering and pain in their young lives, they struggled to love.
ninosBrother Donald loved each and every one of those children as if they were his own, and he helped them learn, little by little, how to love and be loved.  It was amazing to see how the children were transformed through his love and care.  And it was not as if he had discovered any big secret in terms of reaching out to at-risk children.  Instead, he simply loved them in all the little moments, day in and day out – like making meals for them, cutting their hair, playing bingo with them, or asking how their days at school had gone.  But it was through his fidelity to those little things that the depths of his love shone forth to those children.
As I came to know more about Blessed Brother André, I was reminded of Brother Donald.  With Blessed Brother André, it is tempting to get caught up in all the miraculous healings or in the construction of the magnificent oratory and believe they are the definite marks of the depths of his love.  Over the course of his life as a religious brother, however, Blessed Brother André, much like Brother Donald, spent as much time, if not more, showing his love for others through his fidelity in the little things.  After all, Blessed Brother André spent many of his years in Holy Cross, even the years including the miraculous healings, serving as barber, janitor, porter, driver, repairman, carpenter, and handyman extraordinaire.
His fellow blessed, Mother Teresa of Calcutta once said, “In this life we cannot do great things.  We can only do small things with great love.”  Blessed Brother André did just that; he did the small things with great love, and that is why he is such a great and inspiring saint.  And yet, he certainly is not alone in that regard.  Countless others, including many of his fellow Holy Cross brothers like Brother Donald, continue to show forth the great love of our God through the little things they do.  That is not to say they don’t have great responsibilities or important missions.  Yet the mark of what they do – and the mark of what we all do – is more often than not our faithfulness in doing the little things with great love.
That is greatness.  That is saintliness.
Starting August 29th, seven Holy Cross priests and brothers from around the world will be telling their personal stories in relation to Brother André.  The site is:

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