His name was Alfred Bessette. He was born on August 9, in 1845, and was baptized on condition the very next day, for he was so weak at his birth his parents feared for his life.
In 1849, with employment scarce and his family living in poverty, Alfred’s father decided to move to Farnham (in Quebec) where he hoped to earn a living as a lumberman. Unfortunately, he lost his life in an accident when he was crushed by a falling tree when Alfred was only nine years old.
His mother found herself widowed at the age of forty with ten children in her care. She died of tuberculosis three years later. Much later, Brother André would say of her, ‘’I rarely prayed for my mother, but I often prayed to her.’’
The family was dispersed, and at the age of twelve Alfred found himself having to face the hardship of life. He was forced to find work. Alfred embarked on a thirteen year path of wandering from job to job without much baggage and very little learning, for he was barely able to write his name and to read his prayer book.
In spite of his physical weakness, Alfred tried to make a living. He travelled from job to job as an apprentice and was easily exploited by those stronger than himself. For a time, he worked on construction projects, later as a farm boy, a tinsmith, a blacksmith, a baker, a shoemaker and a coachman.
Following the flow of French-Canadian emigrants, he went to the United States and worked four years in the textile mills. Even if his health was poor, he put his whole heart into his work: ‘’Despite my weak condition, ‘’ he would say, ‘’I did not let anyone get ahead of me as far as work was concerned.’’ In 1867, he came back to Canada.
Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/André_Bessette