Who Was Father Solanus Casey?


Quick Answer

Father Solanus Casey, whose birth name was Bernard "Barney" Francis Casey, was a member of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin. He was also an ordained priest. As a Capuchin friar and priest, Casey was recognized as an influential religious speaker, particularly in New York City and Detroit, where he served for 20 and 21 years, respectively.

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Full Answer

Casey was born in Oak Grove, Wisconsin on Nov. 25, 1870. His parents were Bernard James Casey and Ellen Murphy, who had 15 other children, of whom Casey was the sixth eldest.

Casey's journey to the priesthood began in 1891 when he enrolled at St. Francis High School Seminary in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Six years later on Jan. 14, Casey became a friar and received the name Francis Solanus. He was named after his patron saint, St. Francis Solano, who had been a Spanish missionary to Peru. Since there was another Capuchin friar with the first name of Francis, Casey became known as "Solanus."

After becoming a friar, Solanus continued his education at St. Francis Monastery. He received poor grades, so his superiors decided that he would become what is known as a "simplex priest," which meant that he couldn't hear confessions or preach doctrinal sermons. After his ordination, Solanus spent 20 years in New York, specifically in Harlem and Yonkers. He then was assigned to St. Bonaventure Monastery in Detroit, where he worked for 21 years.

Due to his works in New York and Detroit, Solanus' case for sainthood was opened in 1982. In 1995, Pope John Paul II declared him venerable, which is the second step in the path toward sainthood.

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