|Ven. Solanus Casey, O.F.M. Cap.|
|Religious and priest|
November 25, 1870|
Oak Grove, Wisconsin
|Died||July 31, 1957
Solanus Casey, O.F.M. Cap. (November 25, 1870 – July 31, 1957) was an American Capuchin friar and priest who was known during his lifetime as a wonderworker and is the first United States-born man to be declared "venerable" by the Roman Catholic Church. He is now a candidate for beatification. A Capuchin priest, Casey was known for his great faith, humility, and role as spiritual counselor and intercessor.
He was born Bernard Francis Casey (nicknamed Barney) on a farm in what is now the town of Oak Grove, Wisconsin, the sixth of 16 children of Bernard and Ellen Casey, who were Irish immigrants.[dead link] He contracted diphtheria at the age of eight, which permanently damaged his voice, leaving it wispy. The family later moved to Hudson, Wisconsin. At the age of 17 he left the farm to work in a series of jobs in both his home state and Minnesota, as a lumberjack, hospital orderly, a guard in the Minnesota state prison, and a street car operator in Superior, Wisconsin.
It was while working at his last job that Casey witnessed a brutal murder, which caused him to evaluate his life and his future. He then acted on a call he felt to the priesthood and, due to his limited formal education, enrolled in St. Francis High School Seminary, the minor seminary of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee at the age of 21, hoping to become a diocesan priest. Classes at the seminary, however, were taught only in German and Latin, neither of which he knew. Eventually he was advised that, due to his academic limitations, if he wanted to be a priest he should consider joining a religious order, where he could be ordained a simplex priest, who could preside at an at Mass but would not have the faculties for public preaching or hearing confessions.
As a result of this advice, Casey applied to the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin in Detroit, Michigan, into which he was received in 1897. When he received the religious habit he was given the religious name of Solanus, after St. Francis Solanus, a 17th-century Spanish Franciscan friar who was a noted missionary in Peru, and with whom he shared a love of the violin.
Casey again struggled through seminary, but on July 24, 1904, at the age of 33, he was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Sebastian Messmer at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Milwaukee. Because he was judged to have performed insufficiently well in his seminary studies, Casey was ordained a sacerdos simplex.
After his ordination, Casey served for 20 years in a succession of assignments in Capuchin friaries in New York. His first assignment was at Sacred Heart Friary, in Yonkers, New York, later being transferred to New York City, where he first served at St. John's Church next to Penn Station, later at Our Lady of the Angels Church in Harlem. He was recognized as an inspiring speaker. In 1924, he was transferred to St. Bonaventure Monastery in Detroit, where he worked for a further 21 years. During this time, Casey served primarily as the monastery porter, or receptionist and doorkeeper. Every Wednesday afternoon he conducted well-attended services for the sick. Through these services, he became known for his great compassion and the amazing results of his consultations with visitors. Many people considered him instrumental in cures and other blessings they received.
Death and legacy
In 1946 in failing health and suffering from eczema over his entire body, he was transferred to the Capuchin novitiate in Huntington, Indiana, where he lived until 1956 when he was hospitalized in Detroit.
Casey died on July 31, 1957, in St. John Hospital (Room 305 of the old wing has a plaque outside the door) in Detroit, Michigan, at the age of 86. His last words reportedly were: "I give my soul to Jesus Christ." An estimated 20,000 people passed by his coffin prior to his burial in the cemetery at St. Bonaventure Monastery in Detroit, Michigan.
Father Benedict Groeschel, C.F.R., a former Capuchin, states that after Father Solanus Casey's death, a letter from Rome was discovered, apparently unopened, which granted him full priestly faculties to preach in public and hear confessions. Fr. Groeschel takes the position that Fr. Casey's healing apostolate would have suffered if this had been known.
On July 8, 1987, Casey's incorrupt body was exhumed and subsequently reinterred inside the Father Solanus Casey Center at the St. Bonaventure Monastery.
Casey's cause for sainthood was opened in 1982 and in 1995, Pope John Paul II declared him venerable, the second step in the path to sainthood. Many miraculous cures have been associated with Father Solanus's intercession, both when he was alive and after his death. Pilgrims from around the world make pilgrimages to the tomb of Father Solanus Casey.
- Vivian M. Baulch, "Father Solanus Casey and his 'favors,'" The Detroit News Review Mirror, 1996.
- Diane Morey Hanson, "The 'Holy Doorman' of St. Bonaventure's," The Word Among Us, 2006.
- Klein, Franz (September 20, 2007). "Father Solanus lives on in the people and places of our diocese". The Catholic Times: page 10.
- Wisconsin Historical Society, "Father Solanus Casey (1870 - 1957)", in Dictionary of Wisconsin History.
- Kelly, Brian. "Venerable Solanus Casey, O.F.M., Cap.". Catholicism.org.
- Joan King, "Once a struggling seminarian, Capuchin’s on road to sainthood," Milwaukee Catholic Herald, July 22, 2004.
- Maryangela Layman Román, "Shorewood woman blessed by saintly friar: Credits Solanus Casey with helping her overcome eye ailment," Milwaukee Catholic Herald, July 26, 2007.
- Nikola Derpich, "Venerable Solanus Casey, OFM: Apostle of Thanksgiving," Shorelines, February 17, 2003.
- Father Solanus Guild, "Cause of Venerable Solanus Casey," Aug, 4, 1904.
- Jack Wintz, "Father Solanus Casey: Will He Be Beatified Soon? (Part I)," AmericanCatholic.org, February 28, 2007.
- "Venerable Solanus Casey," Saint of the Day, AmericanCatholic.org.
- Father Solanus Guild, "Cause of Venerable Solanus Casey".
- Bernadine Casey, ed., Letters from Solanus Casey, Father Solanus Guild, 2000.
- Michael Crosby, ed., Solanus Casey: The Official Account of a Virtuous American Life, Crossroad Classic, 2000.
- Nikola Derpich, L.C., "Venerable Solanus Casey, OFM: Apostle of Thanksgiving," Shorelines, February 17, 2003.
- James Patrick Derum, The Porter of Saint Bonaventure's, The Fidelity Press Detroit, 1997.
- Catherine M. Odell, The Story of Father Solanus, Revised ed., Our Sunday Visitor Press, 2007.
- Leo Wollenweber, Meet Solanus Casey, St. Anthony Messenger Press, 2002.