Saint of the Month

Blessed Solanus Casey

Feast Day: November 3
Beatified: November 18, 2017

Although Blessed Solanus Casey has not yet been canonized, he was beatified November 18, 2017 by Pope Francis. His life reminds us yet again of the importance of service to others; and how “sainthood” reflects an ordinary life lived with extraordinary love.

Blessed Solanus Casey was born Bernard Francis Casey in 1870. His parents were from Ireland and he grew up on a farm in Wisconsin, one of 16 children.  Growing up in this large family helped him to learn the importance of sharing.

As a young man, Barney left the farm and worked at a wide variety of jobs.  He was a lumberjack, prison guard, hospital orderly, and even operated a streetcar. He did not find any of these jobs satisfying, believing that God had other plans for him.

He entered seminary in Milwaukee, but, as an English speaking student in a primarily German-speaking seminary, he had much difficulty with the studies. He left the seminary; but 5 years later joined the Capuchin order in Detroit. Theological studies here, too, were primarily in German, so he experienced little success with theological studies.  Nonetheless, he was ordained in 1904, taking the name Solanus.  Because of his weak theological skills, he was not allowed to preach or hear confessions. Father Solanus took this as a sign that he should devote himself entirely to the ministry of service. 

Father Solanus’ ministry of service included 20 years working in Yonkers and Harem, New York, working in menial tasks that needed to be done.  Later, he was moved to Detroit and worked as a porter in the Capuchin monastery.  In that role, he answered the door of the monastery and and greeted all visitors, day or night.  Father Solanus listened to and promised to pray for those who came to the monastery.  He became known as “the Doorkeeper." Father Solanus led a prayer service for the sick each week and started a soup kitchen that is still feeding the hungry today. Father Solanus also spent 10 years in Indiana, before returning to Detroit for the last year of his life. 

He died in 1957, at the age of 86. More than 20,000 people prayed at his coffin before he was buried. All had been touched by his generous and loving heart. St. John Paul II declared Solanus to be “Venerable” in 1995, the first step towards canonization.

This video, which runs a little longer than most (7 minutes), does an excellent job of sharing Blessed Solanus’ story and includes many pictures documenting his works and times.

Quotes from Bl. Solanus Casey:

“We must be faithful to the present moment or we will frustrate the plan of God for our lives.”

“Gratitude is the first sign of a thinking, rational creature.”

"What does it matter where we go? Wherever we go, won't we be serving God there? And wherever we go, won't we have Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament with us? Isn't that enough to make us happy?"

"It's 'Heaven Begun', for the grateful on earth."