By the decree of The Most Reverend John Vlazny, Archbishop of Portland in Oregon (US), the Downtown Chapel, which had been formally known as St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church, has been renamed for the first saint in the Congregation of Holy Cross. Effective as of January 6, 2011, the landmark parish at the intersection of West Burnside and Sixth Avenue is now St. André Bessette Catholic Church, perhaps making it the first parish in the world – or at least the first in the United States – to bear the name of this saintly Holy Cross brother.
The Downtown Chapel was established in 1919 as an ecumenical organization serving veterans of World War I. It became a Catholic parish of the Archdiocese of Portland in 1943. In 1989 the Congregation of Holy Cross committed to providing the pastoral care at the Chapel. Currently, Fr. Steve Newton, C.S.C., serves as the pastor, and he is assisted by Fr. Ron Raab, C.S.C.
The mission of the parish “is to provide hope and healing to the most marginalized members of society.” Mass is celebrated daily; there are weekly opportunities to celebrate the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick; and there are community programs such as a Hospitality Center, food pantry, the Brother André Café, and The Portrait Project.
The parish was recently featured in the Salt + Light Television documentary on Saint André, entitled God’s Doorkeeper, as it is a place where the spirit of this humble Holy Cross brother continues to live on in the mission of the Congregation today.