WORCESTER – Father Steven M. LaBaire is planning a bilingual Mass for the feast of a saint in the family, a saint he says is especially appropriate for the Year of Mercy.
Newly ordained Deacon Joseph D. Rice, who’s also related, is planning to attend.
For the feast of St. André of Montreal, Jan. 6, Father LaBaire, pastor of Holy Family Parish, is planning a 7 p.m. Mass. He said it is appropriate to have the Mass in the parish’s church, St. Joseph’s, at 35 Hamilton St., as St. Joseph was the chosen patron of the man known as Brother André.
Father LaBaire said that in tracing his genealogy he learned he’s a distant cousin of Alfred Bessette (St. André’s baptismal name).
He first celebrated Mass in honor of Brother André at St. Mary Parish in Uxbridge, in 2009, after the impending canonization was announced. Local Franco-Americans asked for a celebration, and a tradition was born.
He was able to attend the saint’s canonization in Rome in 2010 through the generosity of members of St. Mary Parish in Uxbridge, where he was then pastor, he said.
Deacon Rice, preparing for priesthood for the Diocese, said that while reading about Brother André, he learned they were both relatives of Louis Hebert, an early settler in Quebec.
“The spiritual connection is that Brother André was a porter” at a school, Father LaBaire said. He said Holy Cross Brothers accepted him with reservations; his health was so poor.
Ironically this man, to whom doors were closed, opened doors for people who are suffering physically and spiritually, Father LaBaire said.
“What an appropriate way to begin the Year of Mercy – to open the doors to those who experience pain and hardship,” he said.