Detroit’s Wonder-Working Doorman

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by Martina Moyski  •  •  July 30, 2021   

Bl. Solanus Casey (1870–1957)

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Fewer than a dozen Americans have been canonized as saints. One who may be next spent much of his life laboring for God right here in the archdiocese of Detroit. Tomorrow is the feast of Bl. Solanus Casey — a day celebrated not just here in Detroit but throughout the world. 

Church Militant's Martina Moyski has more on the life of this holy man and his journey up the ladder of canonization.

Bl. Solanus Casey: "God made me to know Him. Oh what a blessed day. God bless you all."

Born in 1870 in Wisconsin, Fr. Solanus Casey was inspired to priesthood early on. Rejected by diocesan priests for "academic deficiencies," he turned to the Capuchins, and, when deep in prayer, he heard the Blessed Mother say, "Go to Detroit."

He arrived at St. Bonaventure Monastery on a snowy Christmas Eve, serving as the doorman for the next 20 years. From this lowly position, he did God's work helping and comforting untold numbers of people. When a young couple came to him for help late at night, despite his own illness, he counseled them for hours. After a fellow friar told him to rest he explained, "Brother Leo, when Jesus was on the way to Calvary and just before He had the third fall, He stopped and consoled the weeping women."

His fame spread, and people came from all over seeking his counsel. "Thank God ahead of time!" he told parents of a little girl dying of leukemia (who soon recovered to the astonishment of doctors).

Fr. Dan Crosby: "And he said, 'It's my firm conviction ... that appreciation is as necessary for social order and harmony as is the law of harmony for the physical world.'"

Solanus started a soup kitchen during the depression — in operation to this day — now feeding up to 1 million people each year. A currently functioning bakery called "On the Rise" staffed by people released from prison who want to turn their life around also grew out of his legacy.

He died in 1957 (20,000 attending the funeral) and was buried at St. Bonaventure — where faithful pray at his tomb. He was beatified in front of massive crowds in 2017 at Ford Field.

Detroiters are honored Bl. Solanus Casey lived and died among them, but they know this great-yet-humble man belongs to the whole Church — and now to heavenly realms.

Three Masses will be offered on his feast day at St. Bonaventure Monastery — many praying for Bl. Solanus Casey's cause, and many, as they have for generations, will come asking the saintly man for favors in their time of need.

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