I remember now that it had all started when I was at a catechetical retreat and the organisers had chosen to use Montfort Centre for our retreat. At that time it was still under the care of Brother Jean Denis and of course, by now I am no longer surprised to find that he did everything with love. He was so hospitable, so kind and we simply grew warm in his brotherly concern. Our retreat went very well, of course. For me, each retreat is always a good one, and that can be expected since one takes time to spend with our good Lord.
When we had gone to the retreat and made our way to our rooms, we were all blessed with a very special touch. There were single orchids, a Time Out chocolate bar, and prayer cards. Then, we were treated to warm hospitality and finally, on the last day, each of us had an envelope. In it was a handwritten letter and a prayer card. Brother was inviting us to simply enrol and make a commitment to pray a decade of the rosary daily.
As an auxiliary member of the Legion of Mary soon after my baptism, I was already praying the rosary daily. So, when Brother asked for another decade, I did not hesitate to agree. Eventually, I even helped to recruit others and amongst them were several altar boys. Praise God!
Now I learnt that in his life time, Brother actually enrolled more than seven thousand people. How proud our Lady must be! And his decade of the rosary for meditation all these years was on the third Sorrowful Mystery – the Crowning with Thorns!
Not only did our dear Brother simply enrol us, he would also periodically write to some of us. Each year on our Lady’s birthday on 8 September, we would get a birthday card specially designed. Amongst the many things I have received, what counts most are the handwritten letters in beautiful calligraphy. Brother had good penmanship and it was tough for him when in his illness, he could hardly hold a pen. Yes, I have lots of stuff from him – a stack of handwritten letters and other souvenirs including a handsomely crafted metallic eagle mounted on a thick piece of wood. What captivates are the powerful words of Isaiah 40:31: They that hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles.
Rest in peace, dear Brother Jean Denis, through the mercy of God!