Blessed Solanus

By Mahatma Gandhi (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Father Solanus was loved by Detroit residents for his care towards the poor.

Reverend Solanus Casey, a Detroit priest known for his care towards the needy and the poor has been beatified. The Roman Catholic Church did the needful for Father Solanus, as he was popularly known. The preacher was a member of the Capuchin Franciscan priestly order. He breathed his last in 1957. The late Reverend was so popular that thousands of Catholics living in the Detroit area attended the beatification Mass held at Ford Field.

Cardinal Angelo Amato, the prefect for Vatican's Congregation for Causes of Saints, was seen to preside at the mass. He led the beatification rites. He stood above the near-capacity crowd, attired in a golden mitre. The priest read out in Latin an apostolic letter sent from Pope Francis. He bestowed on preacher Casey the “Blessed Solanus” honorific. 

Casey was born with the name Bernard “Barney” Francis Casey. His childhood was spent in Oak Grove, Wisconsin. He died in 1957. His presence and prayers provided comfort to many visitors who came in suffering from trauma and illness.

The attending crowd gave a loud applause when Amato stood up and displayed the decree. An English version was read by Allen Vigneron, the Archbishop of Detroit. The organizers displayed a life-size banner of the preacher. It was unfurled on the altar platform.

For Detroit residents, Father Solanus was a miracle worker in more ways than one. He was the co-founder of Capuchin Soup Kitchen. This beatification puts him only one step distant from being declared a Catholic saint. The ceremony was the first for a man born in the United States. He is credited when it came to interceding to cure a woman from Panama of skin disease. Paula Medina Zarate prayed beside his tomb. Experts subsequently could not find any scientific explanation of how that woman's disfiguration causing genetic disease could disappear simply after a few hours of her attending prayers at Casey's tomb. She was a retired school teacher. During a phone conversation, she said that Detroit is in her dreams now. She added that of all places “I never expected to find life in a tomb.”

The mass saw the attendance of approximately 500 priests. These included Cardinal Adam Maida, the retired leader of Detroit Archdiocese and Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the apostolic nuncio to the pope. Sean O'Malley, the Boston Cardinal, and Cardinal Joseph Tobin of New Jersey. The latter is a native of Detroit.

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