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‘Faithful’ Detroit priest beatified by Catholic Church

Cardinal Angelo Amato blesses a portrait of Solanus Casey during a Mass of the Beatification ceremony Nov. 18, 2017, in Detroit. A priest who wasn't allowed to preach instead turned his ears and heart to the needy. Now, decades after Casey's death, he is on a path to sainthood, celebrated as an incredibly humble man who brought people to God. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

DETROIT (AP) — A priest known for his steadfast devotion to the needy cleared a threshold on the way to possible sainthood Saturday (Nov. 18) as the Roman Catholic Church beatified Solanus Casey, who is credited with the miraculous cure of a woman with a chronic skin disease.


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More than 60,000 people attended a Mass in Detroit where Father Solanus, as he was known, has an extraordinary following, decades after his death in 1957. Many insist their prayers to him have led to remarkable changes in their lives. Some of their stories were told on the scoreboard screens at Ford Field.

Pope Francis said Father Solanus met the requirements to earn the rank of “blessed,” especially after Paula Medina Zarate of Panama was instantly cured while she prayed at his tomb in 2012.

Zarate had a formal role at the Mass, placing a cross in front of a portrait of Father Solanus near the altar. Italian Cardinal Angelo Amato read a decree by the pope, who described the priest as a “humble and faithful disciple of Christ, tireless in serving the poor.”

Father Solanus can be made a saint in the years ahead if a second miracle is attributed to him. He’s only the second U.S.-born man to be beatified by the church, joining the Rev. Stanley Rother, a priest killed in Guatemala’s civil war, who was beatified in Oklahoma in September. One U.S.-born woman has been beatified and two others have been declared saints.


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“It’s a great event,” Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron said ahead of the Mass. “It’s hard to communicate how vivid and real the presence of Father is to our community.”

Even 60 years after his death, “people don’t say, ‘I’m going to Father’s tomb,'” Vigneron told The Associated Press. “They say, ‘I’m going to talk to Father.'”

This 1954 file photo shows Father Solanus Casey, a member of the Capuchin Franciscan Order of St. Joseph. The Detroit priest, who is credited with helping cure a woman with a skin disease, is being beatified by the Roman Catholic Church, a major step toward sainthood. (Detroit News via AP)

Father Solanus, a native of Oak Grove, Wis., joined the Capuchin Franciscan religious order in Detroit in 1897 and was ordained a priest seven years later. But there were conditions: Because of academic struggles, he was prohibited from giving homilies at Mass and couldn’t hear confessions.

“He accepted it,” said the Rev. Martin Pable, 86, a fellow Capuchin. “He believed whatever God wants, that’s what he would do.”

He served for 20 years in New York City and nearby Yonkers before the Capuchins transferred him back to the St. Bonaventure Monastery in Detroit in 1924. Wearing a traditional brown hooded robe and sandals, Father Solanus worked as a porter or doorkeeper for the next two decades, but his reputation for holiness far exceeded his modest title.

The unemployed shared their anxieties with Father Solanus, the parents of wayward kids sought his advice, and the ill and addicted asked him to urge God to heal them. As he listened, he took notes that were later turned into typewritten volumes of his work.

Later in life, when Father Solanus was stationed at a seminary in Huntington, Ind., Detroiters boarded buses for a four-hour ride just to see the man with a wispy white beard. Mail piled up from across the country.

“He had a gentle presence. He left people with a wonderful feeling of peace inside their hearts,” Pable said. “He would say, ‘Let’s just pray about this and see what God wants to do.’ Some people were not healed. He told them to bear their problems with God’s help.”

In 1929, Father Solanus co-founded the Capuchin Soup Kitchen, which serves up to 2,000 meals a day in Detroit.

The Capuchins built a center that bears his name and explains his life story. The public is invited to pray and leave handwritten pleas atop his tomb. Father Solanus’ name is invoked by many people who attend a weekly service for the sick.

Shirley Wilson, 78, said she regularly prayed to Father Solanus to help her nephew get a kidney. He got one a few weeks ago.

“It was a perfect match,” she said. “I believe in miracles.”

Vigneron hopes Father Solanus will inspire people to show mercy toward others.

“We need to care for the poor and give them a high priority,” the archbishop said. “Father was very loving and understanding to people who came to him with their troubles.”

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Ed White

18 Comments

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  • “Father Solanus can be made a saint in the years ahead if a second miracle is attributed to him. He’ll be only the second U.S.” So crediting the power of God to a dead body would be the same as crediting His power to a demon they are both dead – it’s blasphemy.

    James 5:14-15 ESV

    Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, AND THE LORD WILL RAISE HIM UP. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.

    Matthew 4:23 ESV

    And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people.

    I still see no place where a dead body healed anyone.

    Has the RCC gotten this desperate?”

  • “Shirley Wilson, 78, said she regularly prayed to Father Solanus to help her nephew get a kidney. He got one a few weeks ago.”

    Deuteronomy 18:10 There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering,[e] anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer 11 or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer OR ONE WHO INQUIRES OF THE DEAD,

  • I really like to know, so please educate me if you among us here at St. RNS’ are a well-versed Catholic who can relate to the facts:

    (1) That “even 60 years after his death, people … say, ‘I’m going to talk to Father.'”

    (2) That “Shirley Wilson, 78, … regularly prayed to Father Solanus”.

  • “I still see no place where a dead body healed anyone.” Let me help you, as you seem unfamiliar with Holy Scripture:

    2 Kings 13:21 – One day some men were burying a man when they spotted a raiding party. So they threw the dead man into Elisha’s tomb. When the body touched Elisha’s bones, the dead man came to life and stood on his feet.

    I hope this helps to resolve your confusion. Peace.

  • Hey UAE I mean AEA (thought you were United Arab Emirates there for a sec) – you a well-versed Catholic, sounds like? I pose an RFI on my post up there. Sort this out please.

  • There are dozens of dead kids in Idaho because these lethal verses. The state protects “Christians” who use this method to treat those of their own who are suffering from food poisoning, bacterial pneumonia, broken bones, juvenile diabetes and other curable conditions. Religious freedom use to be as deadly in Oregon and Pennsylvania but their legislatures woke the hell up and realized that innocent and powerless children were dying…needlessly.
    I’ve yet to learn how any self-professed Christian can justify watching a teenager die from salmonella after eating a meal prepared by …Christians. That kind of torture is banned by the Geneva Convention when dealing with prisoners of foreign countries.

  • I don’t understand how people can watch their child die when help is right around the corner also, Navy. Makes no sense to me, but, I’m not in their situation.

  • Elisha’s dead body raised no one from the dead. Only Christ has the power of life or death
    And this man was not Elsha. He had no mantle that he received from Elijah. This is sorcery.

  • Really? Not a 1 mainstream Catholic on board at RNS to speak on behalf of fellow mainstream Catholics as to the beliefs & practices relating to praying to someone “after … death”?

    3 days now and no takers. I’m bored.

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