Fr. Solanus was beatified on November 18, 2017. The following text is from the Capuchin Order:
On April 25, 2017, the ordinary meeting of the Cardinals and Bishops of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints recognized the extraordinary healing attributed to the intercession of Venerable Francis Solanus Casey (1870-1957), Capuchin priest of the Province of Calvary (USA). On May 4, 2017, Pope Francis authorized the signed decree that opens the doors to the beatification that we hope to celebrate towards the end of 2017 in Detroit.
Bernard Francis Casey, the sixth of sixteen children, was born in Prescott, Wisconsin (USA) on November 25, 1870 to Bernard James Casey and Ellen Elisabeth Murphy, immigrants from Ireland.
Bernard had a strong and feisty spirit, but was also gifted with an altruistic spirit and a good sense of humor. He loved sports, becoming particularly good at baseball. Before entering religious life he worked as a farmhand, lumberjack, kiln operator, prison guard, and streetcar operator. In 1892, at the age of twenty-two, he entered the diocesan seminary of Francis de Sales in Milwaukee. Not being able to pay the full room and board, he worked as a barber for his classmates. Because he was no longer a very young seminarian by the standards of the time and also because of his inadequate preparation, he encountered great difficulty in the studies, and after five years in the seminary he was counseled to abandon the idea of priesthood and to perhaps become a religious.
With humility and trust, Bernard accepted the idea and was invested in the Capuchin habit on January 14, 1897 in the friary of St. Bonaventure in Detroit and took the religious name Francis Solanus. At the end of novitiate he professed on July 21, 1898 and returned to theological study in the Seraphic Seminary in Milwaukee. The languages used in teaching, German and Latin, made it difficult for him to learn. Nevertheless, despite the difficulty the superiors decided to ordain him priest at the word of the rector: “We will ordain Br. Francis Solanus and as a priest he will be for the people a kind of Curé of Ars.” On July 24, 1904 he received priestly ordination as a simplex priest, with the heavy restriction of not hearing confessions or preaching publicly.
He was always given assignments ordinarily reserved for lay friars, and so was soon given the office of sacristan, director of altar servers, and then porter. After being in various houses of the Province, his last assignment was as porter at the friary of St. Bonaventure in Detroit, where for a good twenty years he attracted a constant flow of people who came to him, drawn by the reputation of his virtue and the extraordinary graces attributed to his prayer.
He would pass up to ten hours a day by the door, without granting himself a break or a vacation, exercising his apostolate of the good word, charity, patience, and obedience.
On July 28, 1954 Father Solanus celebrated his fiftieth jubilee of priesthood. His health, however, began to decline. After several recoveries in the hospital, on July 31, 1957, he died at St. Bonaventure friary in Detroit.
Secular Franciscan Order
Ordo Franciscanus Sæcularis
Divine Mercy Fraternity
Vero Beach, FL
Term expires: 2/10/2022
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Fred Schaeffer, OFS
Five Franciscan Martyrs