Fr. Solanus Casey, Capuchin Franciscan, was born Bernard Francis Casey on November 25, 1870 on a farm near Oak Grove, Wisconsin. He was the sixth child in a family of ten boys and six girls born to Irish immigrant parents. Bernard left the farm to work throughout Wisconsin and Minnesota as a logger, hospital orderly, street car operator, and prison guard.
At the age of 21 Bernard entered St. Francis High School Seminary in Milwaukee to study for the diocesan priesthood. Five years later he contemplated a religious order. Invested in the Capuchin Order at Detroit in 1897, he received the religious name of Solanus.
After his ordination in 1904, Fr. Solanus spent 20 years in New York, Harlem, and Yonkers. In 1924 he was assigned to St. Bonaventure Monastery in Detroit where he worked for 20 years.
Fr. Solanus spent his life in the service of people. At the monastery door as porter he met thousands of people from every age and walk of life and earned recognition as "The Doorkeeper." He was always ready to listen to anyone at any time, day or night.
During his final illness, he remarked, "I'm offering my suffering that all might be one. If only I could see the conversion of the whole world." His last conscious act was sitting up in bed and saying, "I give my soul to Jesus Christ." He died at the age of 86 on July 31, 1957 at the same day and hour of his First Holy Mass 53 years earlier.
After his death the fame of Fr. Solanus continued to spread and many people visited his simple grave in the Friars’ Cemetery. Three years after his death many friends formed the Fr. Solanus Guild to preserve his memory and ideals (which you can visit HERE). The Guild sparked the movement to present Fr. Solanus as a candidate for Sainthood.
By 1981 Cardinal Dearden was ready to petition the Congregation for Causes of Saints to open the Cause. Permission was granted in 1982 and instructions were sent to Edmund C. Szoka, the new Archbishop of Detroit, to begin the Diocesan investigation. After interrogating 53 witnesses the Process was completed and taken to Rome in October 1984.
The canonical exhumation and examination of Fr. Solanus’ body took place on July 8, 1987 in the presence of Archbishop Szoka and Archdiocesan officials. Solanus' body, found to be quite intact, was clothed in a new habit, placed in a new steel casket, and sealed with the Archbishop’s seal. The casket was reinterred in a cement vault beneath the floor of the north transept of St. Bonaventure Church where many people continue to pray for the intercession of Fr. Solanus.
The Positio documentation of the Cause, was studied and approved by the Congregation for Causes of Saints in 1995. On July 11th of that year Pope John Paul II promulgated the Decree of Heroic Virtue for Fr. Solanus and declared him “Venerable.” One miraculous cure attributed to the intercession of Venerable Solanus, then approved by the Congregation will advance the Cause to Beatification and the title of “Blessed.” Another approved miracle after that will advance the Cause finally to Canonization or Sainthood.
Keep courage—rather confidence in God—which is courage divinely reinforced.