Another 20th century American is about to be beatified

Another 20th century American is about to be beatified November 22, 2019

While much of the attention has been on Fulton Sheen these days, a young man from Minnesota is about to be declared “Blessed,” too:

A man who scrubbed toilets and shoveled sidewalks at Cretin-Derham Hall High School is on his way to becoming a saint, and the school is celebrating his beatification by elevating his presence on campus and connecting students to his legacy.

Christian Brother James Miller taught at then-Cretin Hall in St. Paul from 1966 to 1971 and again from 1979 to 1980, teaching Spanish, founding the soccer team and serving as maintenance supervisor.

Brother Miller was martyred in 1982 — at age 37 — during the Guatemalan Civil War. Three hooded men found him on a ladder repairing a wall and shot him. Many assume he was killed because he fought to keep his students from being forced into the military.

Pope Francis officially recognized Brother James as a martyr last year, clearing the way for beatification. He will be beatified on Dec. 7 in Guatemala, a ceremony that four members of Cretin-Derham will attend, including President Frank Miley.

Reminders of the late teacher pop up throughout the school. The chapel is being renamed in honor of “Blessed Brother James”; staff is working with the archdiocese to make the rededication official. The school commissioned a bronze statue of him that was recently installed in the courtyard, which is also being renamed after him.

Meanwhile, the original icon of Brother Miller painted by Nick Markell is displayed in the school’s History Walk alongside other noteworthy memorabilia. A reproduction hangs in the classroom where he taught.

The students’ education on Brother Miller is enhanced spiritually. Multiple times a day they participate in a call-and-response invocation that now includes, “Blessed Brother James Miller,” “pray for us.”

“He has a big footprint here,” Miley said, “and the beatification is making that footprint even bigger.”

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Blessed Brother James, pray for us! 

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