Pax ET BONUM

When Father Solanus Casey died in Detroit in 1957, all he left after 86 years on this earth were a small crucifix, an old pair of sandals, several religious pictures, a wooden statue of St. Anthony, some dog-eared religious books, a knot of heavily darned socks and a framed, 40-year-old picture of his family.But he left another rich legacy — a long list of curious "favors" to an equally long list of devoted believers.  Father Solanus Casey had come to Detroit to be a Capuchin friar. During his years as a priest he spent time in other states, but he began and ended his career in Detroit.   The thin, bald ascetic with horn-rimmed spectacles and a flowing gray beard spent 23 years at St. Bonaventure Monastery in Detroit. He was a man of rare holiness. A mystic.   Barney Casey was the oldest of 16 children of an Irish-American family from Superior, Wisconsin. He'd already been a lumberjack, a prison guard, and a streetcar motorman. One day while driving the streetcar through a tough section of Superior, he came upon a drunken sailor stabbing a young woman.    "The scene remained with him," wrote his biographer, James P. Derum. "To him the brutal stabbing and the sailor's hysterical cursing symbolized the world's sin and hate and man-made misery.    "He saw...that the only cure for mankind's crime and wretchedness was the love that can be learned only from and through Him who died to show men what love is."  Barney believed the Lord wished him to dedicate his life to Him and he decided to study for the priesthood. But he was having troubles academically. Then he planned a novena, prayers to Mary in preparation for her Dec. 8 feast of the Immaculate Conception. He became aware of the Blessed Virgin's presence: "Go to Detroit," he distinctly heard her say.  Lugging a trunk, he went to Detroit.    In 1897 he took the name of St. Francis Solanus, a 17th century Spanish nobleman, intellectual, missionary and preacher. Six years later he was ordained.    Because he ranked only in the lower half of his class, his teachers ecommended that his priestly office be severely restricted. He could say mass but was not permitted to expound from the pulpit on dogma. He was not allowed to hear confessions except under emergency circumstances.  >He spent some time in New York, in Yonkers and in Harlem. Here began the series of inexplicable events that were to be linked to him for the next 36 years.    Father Solanus began promoting a prayer group, the Seraphic Mass Association, in which all members had access to the prayers of the entire group. He offered to help those in distress to fill out the prayer group's application card and in doing so he would listen to their problems.    Unexpectedly quick recoveries and remarkable solutions to their problems shocked and delighted the petitioners and the word spread. Father Solanus suddenly found himself very busy and his superior, Father Provincial Benno Aichinger, directed him to keep a record of these "special favors."  Father Solanus returned to Detroit in 1924, 28 years after first arriving as a novice. He stayed as doorkeeper until 1945, the year before he retired.   During his 21 years as porter at St. Bonaventure, he filled seven notebooks with more than 6,000 requests for help from petitioners. And to some 700 of these he recorded reported cures from cancer, leukemia, tuberculosis, diphtheria, arthritis, blindness, and other maladies. These brief postscripts also report

VEN Solanus Casey, OFM, Cap

Fr Solanus Casey