Wisconsin native closer to sainthood

Fr. Solanus Casey. (Photo courtesy Solanus Casey Center, Detroit)

(WLUK) – Pope Francis took another step Thursday towards making a Wisconsin native a Catholic saint.

The Holy Father formally attributed a miracle to Francis Solanos Casey, a Capuchin friar who was born in Oak Grove, in Pierce County, in 1875.

The church declared him “venerable” in 1995. Thursday’s announcement changes his title to “Blessed” – the final step before canonization, according to the Archdiocese of Detroit.

Throughout his ministry, beginning in New York for 20 years, serving at three different parishes, Fr. Solanus was a beloved Capuchin Friar credited with miraculous cures and valued for his wise and compassionate counsel. He served at St. Bonaventure Monastery on Mt. Elliott Street in Detroit, where he worked for 21 years as a porter and spent his life in the service of people, endearing himself to thousands who would seek his counsel. He earned the recognition as ‘the Doorkeeper’ – a Brother who would provide soup for the hungry, kind words for the troubled, and a healing touch for the ill, according to the Detroit church.

Fr. Solanus 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 sixteen, born to Irish immigrant parents who left Ireland after the famine years. At the age of 21 Bernard entered St. Francis High School Seminary in Milwaukee to study for the diocesan priesthood. In 1897, he joined the Capuchin Order at Detroit and received the religious name of Solanus. In 1924, he was assigned to St. Bonaventure Monastery in Detroit. During his final illness, he remarked, "I'm offering my suffering that all might be one.” 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.

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