Pope Francis noted November 18, 2017, beatification of Fr. Solanus Casey, who took the next step toward sainthood in a huge event at Ford Field in Detroit.
“Humble and faithful disciple of Christ, he was distinguished for his tireless service to the poor,” the Holy Father said. “May his witness help priests, Religious and laity to live with joy the bond between the proclamation of the Gospel and love of the poor.”
Born November 25, 1870, Francis Solanus Casey came from an Irish immigrant family of 16 children in Oak Grove, Wisconsin. At the age of 21, after working as a recorder, streetcar operator, and prison guard, he entered St. Francis Seminary in Milwaukee, where studies were difficult for him. He left the seminary in 1896, and joined the Capuchin Friars Minor in Detroit, taking the name of Solanus.
On July 24, 1904, he was ordained a priest, but since his knowledge of theology was considered weak, Solanus was not allowed to preach and hear confessions. During his 14 years as a sexton in Yonkers, New York, he is however recognized as an excellent speaker.
He served in the parishes of Manhattan and Harlem before returning to Detroit, where he served as a sexton for 20 years at the monastery of St. Bonaventure. Every Wednesday afternoon, he conducted services for the sick.
In 1946, weakened and ill, he was transferred to the Capuchin novitiate in Huntington, Indiana, where he lived until 1956 when he was hospitalized in Detroit. He died on July 31, 1957, at the age of 86. Pope John Paul II declared him venerable in 1995.