At sunrise I prepare to register guests for breakfast at HopeWorks New Mexico, a day shelter which addresses the immediate needs of Albuquerque’s homeless population. This task of serving hundreds of people at once can be intimidating. The people who will soon pass through the door come from five different continents as well as several Native American reservations, and most suffer from severe mental illness, substance addiction, labor exploitation, or sexual abuse. While HopeWorks offers a variety of daily services to its guests, I’m sometimes dissatisfied knowing that many of these guests will need the same services in perpetuity. It’s at this point that I remember Brother Andre.
Saint Andre Bassett, a Brother in the Congregation of Holy Cross, spent much of his life as a porter at a Holy Cross school in Canada. His hospitality attracted thousands of people to his station at the front door. Through Br. Andre’s intercession, incurable illnesses and injuries were healed, generating hope where previously there was none.
Br. Andre accompanied me throughout my college formation. His portrait hung throughout campus at Holy Cross College, a summer service-learning experience in Arizona bore his name, and his statue welcomed me on an international immersion experience in southern India. I recognized him in the zeal of my professors and in the generosity of my friends. Almost everything about my Jesuit Volunteer experience has been new, including my placement, but after years of getting to know Br. Andre I’ve learned to approach my work as I imagine he would. I learn the names of our guests. I encourage them when they find opportunities, and I am present to them when they suffer. I can laugh with them. By carrying in my heart a kind of hospitality-centered Magis, as St. Andre did, I have entered HopeWorks with a sense of direction I rarely have when beginning a new phase of my life.
Holy Cross Brothers describe themselves as “men with Hope to bring” and St. Andre Bassett faithfully lived that mission. Benedict XVI said of St. Andre that he imagined “everything through the mystery of Jesus”, and with this imagination I’ve learned to understand my placement: I will likely greet each guest at the door of the shelter tomorrow morning, but I will do so knowing that hospitality creates hope, and that hope is our salvation.
Colin Crawford has proudly spent his entire life in South Bend, Indiana, where he majored in history at Holy Cross College. He loves language, backpacking, and Indian food. As a Jesuit Volunteer, he will serve as a shelter assistant at HopeWorks in Albuquerque, New Mexico.