NOTICE: I am a practicing Catholic, active and in good-standing with my local parish, who professes faith and loyalty to the Church. This ministry - my "little work" - is strictly a personal expression of that faith and loyalty, and not an officially recognized ministry in the Diocese of Honolulu. ~ Peter

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Saint of the Month - July 2018: Blessed Francis Solanus Casey

Bl. Francis Solanus Casey 
An American Prophet ~ Memorial: July 30th

Fr. Solanus Casey - Priest, Mystic,
Prophet & Healer
Hooray - God has recently favored American Catholics with yet another Blessed! This time around it's a Franciscan priest from Wisconsin... and I couldn't help but fall for his spiritual charm after having read his biography - I had to share about his life.  Born Bernard Casey to a large family of immigrant [Irish] farmers, he grew up in a lively atmosphere of love and faith, along with 9 brothers and 6 sisters! "Barney", as he was nicknamed, was the 6th child born on November 25, 1870.

Early on, the pious example of the Casey couple, instilled in their children a routine life of hard work, prayer, and a devotion to the Holy Virgin. Barney, in particular, was deeply impressed by his family's devout home life and he was inspired from early childhood to pray the holy rosary every day.  As early as aged 13, he thought of becoming a priest, but it wasn't until he was 21 that he finally sought admission into a seminary in Milwaukee.  However, the fact that the lessons were taught in German was an obstacle that the young seminarian could not overcome.  Barney did poorly in his studies and was eventually advised to leave and join a religious order, instead, if he wanted to pursue a consecrated vocation. 

"What does it matter where we go?  Wherever we go,
won’t we be serving God there?"

~ Words of Bl. Solanus

A bit discouraged but not defeated, Barney continued to pray for guidance. On December 8, 1896 - the Feast of the Immaculate Conception and the last day of a novena he was praying - he heard the voice of the Blessed Virgin say to him, "Go to Detroit" where the Capuchin Order was headquartered in America. Without any hesitation, he set out for the Michigan city and reached Detroit on Christmas Eve where he attended Midnight Mass. Not long after in January 1897, he officially joined the Capuchins and was given the religious name of Bro. Francis Solanus (after a Franciscan Saint of the same name) or simply "Solanus".

Fr. Solanus was highly
devoted to Our Lady
As a member of the Capuchins, he studied for the priesthood but learning difficulties again resurfaced. On July 24, 1904, he managed to be ordained as a "simplex priest" - able to offer Mass, but not allowed to preach or hear confessions. Despite the seeming humiliation, Fr. Solanus showed no resentment towards his superiors but accepted their decision as the will of God for him.  He celebrated his first Mass on July 31, 1904.

The next two decades were spent in houses of his order in New York, Harlem, and Yonkers where he fulfilled the tasks of sacristan and porter. In particular, it was his humble role as doorkeeper that proved providential, as it put him in direct contact with the people. The ever-patient Fr. Solanus always took the time to hear-out the concerns of the many visitors; he counseled them; encouraged them to have faith in the Mass; prayed with them. Soon, he became immensely popular and people began flocking to him. More so, as reports of healing and other spiritual favors began circulating about the diminutive priest.

Fr. Solanus (center) serving in a monastery soup kitchen

Other characteristics that marked the remarkable life of Fr. Solanus was his devotion to the Eucharist and to the Blessed Mother; his unwavering confidence and gratitude for God's goodness and power; generosity towards the sick and the poor; his spirit of self-sacrifice; his contagious spirit of joy; and his love for music (he played the violin).  In summary, he was a model priest.

"Thank God ahead of time."

~ Words of Bl. Solanus

Later in life this American holy man suffered from ill health and a severe form of eczema. He returned to St. Bonaventure Monastery in Detroit to receive medical care and died on July 31, 1957.  Even during his stay in the city's St. John Hospital, he was sought after by people requesting his prayer and blessing, effecting miraculous cures while he, himself, was broken by infirmities.  After his death, his body was found incorrupt during the ritual exhumation conducted as a normal process during the canonization investigation.

Relics of Bl. Solanus Casey preserved in Detroit, Michigan

Fr. Solanus Casey's Cause for Canonization was initiated in 1983 and his beatification was celebrated on November 18, 2017 after a healing attributed to his intercession was officially recognized as a miracle.  Please pray for his speedy Canonization.

For more information concerning Fr. Solanus Casey and his Cause for Canonization,
visit the Solanus Center website by clicking here.

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