Pope Francis announces beatification of Detroit priest Father Solanus Casey

Casey now one step closer to sainthood

DETROIT – It has been 60 years since Father Solanus Casey died, but his life's work lives on in Metro Detroit. 

Now, Pope Francis is recognizing the Catholic priest's dedication to his community with one of the highest declarations the church can make: beatification. Casey was a member of the Capuchin Franciscan Order of St. Joseph in Detroit and one of the co-founders of the city’s Capuchin Soup Kitchen

"On behalf of the Archdiocese of Detroit and the Capuchin Franciscan Order of St. Joseph in Detroit, we are humbled and overjoyed by this momentous announcement," the Archdiocese of Detroit announced in a statement Thursday morning. 

The Catholic Dictionary defines beatification as: 

A declaration by the Pope as head of the Church that one of the deceased faithful lived a holy life and/or died a martyr's death and is now dwelling in heaven. As a process, the beatification consists of a years-long examination of the life, virtues, writings, and reputation for holiness of the servant of God under consideration.

This is ordinarily conducted by the bishop of the place where he or she resided or died. For a martyr miracles worked through the person's intercession need not be considered in this primary process. The second, or Apostolic, process is instituted by the Holy See when the first process reveals that the servant of God practiced virtue in a heroic degree or died a martyr for the faith. Beatified persons are called "Blessed" and may be venerated by the faithful but not throughout the universal Church.

Casey's admirers have been pointing to many miracles to support sainthood for the priest who died in 1957. This recognition from Pope Francis could be a step closer to making sainthood a reality for Casey. A panel of doctors must rule out a scientific explanation for the history of healing attributed to the Capuchin priest. 

Casey was declared venerable in 1995, the first American man to have that distinction. One must be declared venerable and blessed before sainthood can be declared. Casey joined Detroit's Order of Friars Minor Capuchin in 1897 and struggled through his seminary studies before being ordained a priest in 1904 at the age of 33.

Local 4's Roger Weber spoke to his loyal followers and believers in 2014 -- watch: 

The Archdiocese held a news conference Thursday morning for official statements.

At 10:30 this morning in Rome, the Holy Father Pope Francis received in audience His Eminence Cardinal Angelo Amato, S.D.B., prefect for the Congregation of the Causes of Saints. During this audience, the Holy Father authorized the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to promulgate the following decree regarding a miracle, attributed to the intercession of the Venerable Servant of God Solanus Casey, professed priest of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchins; born November 25, 1870 and died July 31, 1957.

Father Solanus Casey was a member of the Capuchin Franciscan Order of St. Joseph in Detroit and one of the co-founders of the city’s Capuchin Soup Kitchen.

"The beatification of Father Solanus Casey is an incomparable grace for the Church in the Archdiocese of Detroit and for the whole community of Southeast Michigan,” stated Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron, Archdiocese of Detroit. “He is an inspiration to all us Catholics – and to all – of the power of grace to transform one’s life.”

“Long before we knew and loved Pope Francis, we had the example of Fr. Solanus who lived the Gospel of Mercy,” said Fr. Michael Sullivan, OFM Cap. and Provincial Minister of the Capuchin Franciscan Province of St. Joseph. “Known for his compassion and simplicity, he drew many thousands to God.”

About the Author:

Dave Bartkowiak Jr. is the digital managing editor for ClickOnDetroit.