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16 November 2020

Living the consecrated life with the challenges of our times: A testimony of the Little Brothers of Jesus in Toronto

Our vocation goes back to Blessed Charles de Foucauld. He died in 1916 in the Hoggar, at Tamanrasset in the Sahara desert. He will soon be canonized, since a second miracle has recently been recognized.

Charles de Foucauld had no companion in his decision to follow Jesus in the mystery of Nazareth: alone, he responded to the call to a hidden life, shared between prayer and attention to those around him, especially those most in need, those who had little access to the presence of Jesus. Living out of the Holy Sacrament in the midst of those around him was an essential aspect of this call. Saint John Paul II said that, by seeing how the sisters and brothers of our communities live, he had understood that the 30 years of Jesus’ life in Nazareth reveal an essential aspect of the Gospel that visible apostolic activities do not emphasize.

When the Church declared us a Congregation of Pontifical Right, it recognized our vocation as ‘contemplatives in the world’.

We live as close as possible to our neighbors, living in the same condition and taking ordinary jobs, sharing as much as possible with those around us. Here in Toronto, for the last 40 years, our Nazareth has been the Housing Co-operative where circumstances led us. It houses 126 families of all kinds in different locations. Our unit is composed of four families who help each other a lot, sharing common needs and offering much appreciated friendship. For example, we have a common garage for our bicycles, a freezer which serves two families, a washer and dryer shared with the upstairs neighbors, the internet in   common with two other families, from time to time we all eat together, and when possible we share our meal with a handicapped neighbor.

To stay physically in shape, we walk and swim.

We spend an hour a day in silent prayer, share morning and evening prayer by the tabernacle in our little chapel which, according to all who have seen it, is one of the most beautiful in Toronto. We participate in the parish mass on Sunday and three times a week when available in the morning.

Chapel of the Little Brothers of Jesus in Toronto

How did the life of Charles de Foucauld become known all over the world, and impact church and world in so many ways?

A friend of our brother Charles, Louis Massignon, deeply moved as he watched this unique vocation unfold, contacted René Bazin, a well known French writer at that time, and transmitted all available documents to him. René Bazin’s life of Charles de Foucauld  remains, to this day, one of the best biographies available.

Following in his footsteps in 2020 Toronto we try as best we can to live the same mysterious call, in the presence of Jesus of Nazareth.

Bernard Audigier, little brother of Jesus, Toronto.