News from the Committee for Brother Michael’s Cause for Canonisation (CBMC) 

The founder of a charity that has helped many thousands of children and adults with disabilities to visit the shrine to Our Lady in Lourdes is the subject of a call for testimonials that could lead to his being declared a saint.

On Tuesday 7 December, Archbishop Leo Cushley of St Andrews and Edinburgh celebrated a Mass at Our Lady of Victories Church, Kensington to mark the start of a process that it is hoped will lead to the canonisation of Brother Michael Strode, a Cistercian monk of Caldey Abbey: the launch of a website of the Committee for Brother Michael’s Cause (CBMC) and the beginning of an appeal for testimonials that could support the Cause.

Brother Michael died on 27 December 2019, aged 96. He is perhaps best known, to Catholics in the UK and beyond, as the founder of HCPT, the charity that for more than 65 years has organised pilgrimages to Lourdes for people with disabilities.

Richard King, the Chairman of CBMC, said: “In his devotion to the care of disabled children and adults, Brother Michael was living out his love of humanity, firmly rooted in his deep spiritual life. If the Cause succeeds, a modern-day saint would be a tremendous example of love and service for the Catholic Church in Britain.”

Born in 1923, Michael Strode became a Catholic in 1945. Trained as a doctor, in 1953 he was appointed to Chailey Heritage, a hospital school for disabled children in Sussex, where he remained until his retirement in 1988.

In 1956 he founded the charity now known as HCPT (Hosanna House and Children’s Pilgrimage Trust). He insisted that disabled children be accommodated not in austere hospitals but in small ‘family’ groups in hotels, so they could live their week (a ‘holiday with Our Lady’) with their helpers - an idea that in the 1970s was extended to disabled adults. A great number of young helpers have, over the years, learned to give themselves to others and so actively participate in the Church and the wider community. This inspired approach has been copied by many other pilgrimages.

In 1991 he joined the island community of Cistercian monks at Caldey. Here he lived a monastic life of prayer until in 2016 his health declined and he spent his last years at Nazareth House, Cardiff.

The Abbot of Caldey, Father Daniel van Santvoort said: “As a monk, his existence became a life sacrificed to God, to his brothers, to all his friends and family in a life of silence, prayer, service and dedication. This step certainly did not change him, in fact, it was grace at work in him that brought out his unique humanity for everyone to see – the beam of laughter and joy in his eyes, his ability to welcome life in a pure, childlike way, and a great sense of fun that is (almost) inimitable.”

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