the mountains were born,
before you gave birth to the earth and the world,
from beginning to end, you are God." (Ps 90:2)
In the eternal plan of God, on August 9, 1845, within view of Mont Saint-Grégorie, Québec, Canada, the 8th child of the Bessette family saw the light of day. He was baptized at home immediately after birth because he was in danger of death. As Clothilde Floicy held the child in her arms she did not suspect that some day this child of hers would be known throughout the world as Saint.
The next day the child was baptized conditionally as Alfred by Fr. P.A. Sylvestre in the parish of Saint-Gregorie le Grand (named after Pope Gregory the Great), in the this building which at that time served both as the Rectory and Chapel.
Isaac Bessette, the father, sold the family home in 1849 and moved his family to Farnham which was about 11 miles away. The move was most likely motivated by the need to find a better job in the lumber industry of Farnham. It was here that disaster struck.
The morning of February 20, 1855 Isaac with his oldest son went on the opposite side of the road to cut wood on the property of his neigbors. The elm tree which they were cutting fell in the wrong direction and crushed Isaac to death. Alred tells, "My mother was numbed with terror" . For a time Clothilde managed to support her family, the youngest being one year old and Alfred was nine. Three years later exhausted by work she fell victim to tuberculoses. Before her death she said to her children, "My dear children, it is now three years since your father left us for heaven. God wishes me also to leave you. Pray for me. Do not forget your father's grave. Let my body rest beside his in the cemetery in Farnham." (Laurent Boucher, CSC. Bother Andre, St. Joseph Oratory, 1997, p.12)
In later life as Alfred as Brother Andre, has fond memories of his mother. He said, "Probably because I was weaker and more sickly, my mother showed me deeper affection than she showed the others. She used to kiss repeatedly and gave me little dainties. During the evening family prayers, I used to kneel beside her and follow the prayers on the Rosary on her beads. She was always smiling, and such a lovely smile! Even after her death she still smiled at me." (Ibid., p. 11)
At this point, the Bessette family of nine had to be disbanded.