Detroit, Mich., Jun 28, 2017 / 11:40 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Venerable Solanus Casey, an American-born Capuchin priest who died in 1957 known for his ability as a spiritual counselor, will be beatified at a Nov. 18 Mass in Detroit, the local archdiocese announced Tuesday.
“We are filled with joy at receiving the final date of the beatification of Father Solanus,” Father Michael Sullivan, OFM Cap. and Provincial Minister of the Capuchin Franciscan Province of St. Joseph, said June 27. “It is a beautiful way to celebrate the 60th anniversary of his passing.”
Venerable Casey was known for his great faith, attention to the sick, and ability as a spiritual counselor.
The beatification Mass will be said at Ford Field in Detroit, which can accommodate as many as 60,000.
Venerable Casey will be the second American-born male to be beatified.
Born Bernard Casey on Nov. 25, 1870, he was the sixth child of 16 born to Irish immigrants in Wisconsin. At age 17 he left home to work at various jobs, including as a lumberjack, a hospital orderly, and a prison guard.
Reevaluating his life after witnessing a drunken sailor brutally stab a woman to death, he decided to act on a call he felt to enter the priesthood. Because of his lack of formal education, however, he struggled in the minor seminary, and was eventually encouraged to become a priest through a religious order rather than through the diocese.
So in 1898 he joined the Capuchin Franciscans in Detroit and after struggling through his studies, in 1904 was ordained a “sacerdos simplex” – a priest who can say Mass, but not publicly preach or hear confessions.
He was very close to the sick and was highly sought-after throughout his life, in part because of the many physical healings attributed to his blessings and intercession. He was also a co-founder of Detroit’s Capuchin Soup Kitchen in 1929.
For 21 years he was porter at St. Bonaventure Monastery in Detroit.
He is also known for his fondness for playing the violin and singing, although he had a bad singing voice because of a childhood illness which damaged his vocal chords.
Even in his 70s, Fr. Solanus Casey remained very active, and would even join the younger religious men in a game of tennis or volleyball. He died from erysipelas, a skin disease, on July 31, 1957, at the age of 87.
A miracle attributed to Venerable Casey’s intercession was recognized by Pope Francis at a May 4 meeting with Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
“I’m grateful to hear from the Capuchin friars that the date of the beatification has been finalized,” Archbishop Allen Vigneron of Detroit stated.
“The beatification of Father Solanus will be a tremendous blessing for the whole community of southeast Michigan, an opportunity for all of us to experience the love of Jesus Christ.”
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Fr Benedict Groeschel gave a wonderful account of Fr Solanus. Groeschel said he was denied the faculty of hearing confession due to what was considered lack of sufficient comprehension. He didn’t react negatively to that and instead was an extremely humble man. Usually silent. Groeschel saw him in chapel in ecstatic prayer before the tabernacle during the night. Apparently regularly spending long nightly hours there. He didn’t appear fatigued during the day. Fr Groeschel thought that a special heavenly blessing. If one didn’t know him he seemed a simpleton. Silent and withdrawn. Except that he had rich knowledge of God’s love. Birds would fly to him allowing him to touch them. Once the down to earth psychologist Groeschel witnessed him resolve a swarm of stinging bees. Solanus went up to the beehive reached in and removed a large queen. There were two queens causing the disturbance. He wasn’t stung. The swarm disappeared. Groeschel whom I loved to listen to was convinced of Fr Solanus’ sanctity. Entirely impressed with his wonderful humility, affinity with nature. If I recall correctly Fr Solanus was often sought for counsel and advice. But he never asked to have the faculty to confess restored. My sense is that resigned humility and his evident goodness has much to do with his sanctification.