Here is the fourth in our on-going series of personal reflections from Holy Cross religious on what Blessed Brother André, who will be canonized October 17th, means to them. This week's comes from Fr. Bill Wack, C.S.C., who worked for many years at André House, a Holy Cross ministry serving the poor and the homeless in downtown Phoenix.
Having worked for nearly 7 years at a place named after Bro. André, I have a great devotion to this saintly and humble man. André House (in Phoenix) is a house of hospitality for those who are homeless and are in dire need of life’s basic necessities.
Every day hundreds of people come to André House for food, clothing, a shower, a blanket, shade, a prayer or a listening ear. Often we can do no more for them beyond sitting with them and praying with them. One of the things we as staff members and volunteers do at André House is take turns visiting with our guests in our parking lot (which is more like a huge drop-in center). We give the name “Porter” to that person because that’s the title Brother André had for most of his life. Like him we simply receive our guests and try our best to assist them with their needs.
One day one of our guests came up to me and said, “You know how I can tell that you folks really care about us?” He continued, “You all hang out with us here in the parking lot and on the streets. You don’t go off to an office somewhere or to your homes in the rich part of town. You are right here, with us.” Instantly I thought of a title we use for Jesus: Emmanuel, a name that means, “God-with-us”. Like Jesus, Brother André spent his whole life simply being with others who were in great need.
As a Holy Cross priest I try to bring the Presence of Christ to all people whenever and wherever possible. Through the intercession of Blessed Brother André, may we do this more and more – no matter what our vocation or state of life.