Capuchin Franciscan Priest (1870-1957)
+ Bernard Francis (“Barney”) Casey was born in Oak Grove, Wisconsin. to Irish immigrants.
+ After school, Barney left the family farm to take various jobs in Minnesota, including working as a prison guard and street car operator. At this time, he considered marriage and even proposed to a girl, but the marriage wasn’t to be.
+ After witnessing a murder, Barney re-evaluated his life and its trajectory. This led him to consider the priesthood. He enrolled in the minor seminary of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, hoping to become a diocesan priest. However, classes were taught in German and Latin (neither of which he knew how to speak) and he struggled in his studies. The seminary officials encouraged him to enter a religious community, if he wanted to become a priest.
+ In 1897, he entered the Capuchin Franciscans in Detroit and received the religious name “Solanus.” He was ordained in Milwaukee in 1904 but, because of his poor academic performance, he was ordained as a “simplex priest,” meaning that he could only celebrate Mass but would not be granted faculties to hear confessions or to preach in public.
+ Father Solanus served in various friaries in New York before being assigned to St. Bonaventure’s Monastery in Detroit in 1924. He served as porter for the community until 1945, also leading prayer services for the sick. It was during this time that he developed a reputation for his hospitality and care for the poor and people spoke of miraculous cures which they attributed to his prayers.
+ Solanus loved to play the violin and sing Irish songs, but he wasn’t a particularly gifted musician and he would often take his violin to the chapel to play before the Blessed Sacrament, much to the relief of the friars who didn’t particularly appreciate his efforts.
+ In 1946, Solanus was transferred to the friars’ novitiate in Huntington, Indiana. He was suffering from ill health and was eventually sent back to Detroit in 1956. His health continued to decline until his death on July 31, 1957. More than 20,000 filed past his coffin in the days before his funeral.
+ Blessed Solanus Casey was beatified in 2017.
For prayer and reflection
“How merciful is the Good God in making us dependent upon another.”—Blessed Solanus Casey
God, who in your providence conformed Blessed Solanus Casey to the image of your Son making him tireless in service to the poor, by his intercession and example, grant also to us the same generosity and joy in giving of ourselves in service to our neighbor. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Capuchin Missal: A Supplement to the Roman Missal, Third Edition)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.