Father Solanus Casey, a Capuchin friar who died 60 years ago in Detroit, has taken a step toward being declared a saint Thursday, according to a release from the Archdiocese of Detroit.
The Archdiocese announced Pope Francis's beatification of Casey in an e-mail this morning. His current title of "Venerable" will soon become "Blesssed."
Casey was a member of the Capuchin Franciscan Order of St. Joseph in Detroit and one of the co-founders of the Capuchin Soup Kitchen in Detroit, said the Archdiocese.
"The beatification of Father Solanus Casey is an incomparable grace for the Church in the Archdiocese of Detroit and for the whole community of Southeast Michigan,” Archbishop Allen Vigneron, the head of the Archdiocese of Detroit, said in a statement today. “He is an inspiration to all us Catholics – and to all – of the power of grace to transform one’s life.”
According to the Michigan Catholic, the miracle that Casey performed to become blessed ”involved a woman with an incurable genetic skin disease." Citing a news release, the report said that "her cure was verified by doctors in her home country, in Detroit and in Rome, all of whom confirmed there was no scientific explanation."
“Long before we knew and loved Pope Francis, we had the example of Fr. Solanus who lived the Gospel of Mercy,” Fr. Michael Sullivan, OFM Cap. and Provincial Minister of the Capuchin Franciscan Province of St. Joseph, said in the statement. “Known for his compassion and simplicity, he drew many thousands to God. “
A news release from the Archdiocese of Detroit said: "On behalf of the Archdiocese of Detroit and the Capuchin Franciscan Order of St. Joseph in Detroit, we are humbled and overjoyed by this momentous announcement."
Casey was known for taking the time to listen to people's worries, the Free Press wrote in January.
In 1995, Pope John Paul II declared Casey venerable, one of the steps required before a Catholic can be declared a saint. One key step is the Vatican confirming that Casey's intercession helped lead to miracles, a process that can take years. Some Catholics in metro Detroit believe that Casey interceded to bring miracles in their own lives or the lives of loved ones, healing people of cancer or other illnesses. If canonized, Casey would be the first American-born male saint and the first from Michigan.
Born in 1870 as Bernard Francis Casey to immigrants from Ireland who had 16 children, Casey struggled in seminary, but became known for his caring and love for others. In the Casey Center, an exhibit depicting his life's journey in Wisconsin, Michigan and New York - where he spent 20 years - can be seen. He was given the name "Solanus" when he joined the Franciscan order in Detroit.
Casey was one of the key founders of the Capuchin soup kitchen, which got its start in 1929 in Detroit during the Great Depression. Unemployed workers would come to the center begging for food and Casey would give them large sandwiches and cup of coffee. Today, the soup kitchen is one of the most well-known in Detroit, serving 60,000 meals a month, one third of them to children. It also distributes about 250,000 pounds of food a month and, every Christmas season, gives 20,000 toys to children.