VENERABLE SOLANUS CASEY was born on November 25, 1870 on a farm in Wisconsin. His Irish immigrant parents named him Bernard. He was the sixth child in a family of ten boys and six girls. After he left the farm he worked throughout Wisconsin and Minnesota as a logger, a hospital orderly, a street car operator, and a prison guard.
At the age of 21, Bernard entered St. Francis High School Seminary in Milwaukee to study for the diocesan priesthood. Five years later he decided to enter a religious order. He was invested in the Capuchin Order at Detroit in 1897 and received his religious name of Solanus.
He performed poorly academically so wasn't allowed to hear confessions or give sermons. Instead, he served primarly in the humble capacity of receptionist and doorkeeper at friaries and monasteries for 40 years.
|The Father Solanus Guild|
Ven. Solanus spent his life in the service of people. At the monastery door, he met thousands of persons from every age and walk of life. In time of trouble and sorrow, they sought his prayers and advice. Many attributed favors to his prayers. He constantly showed his love of God by loving all of God’s people. He was always ready and willing to listen to anyone any time of the day or night. In return he asked people to love and support the missions. He was a man of rare holiness. A mystic.
During the Great Depression, the number of daily patrons of the monastery's soup kitchen tripled and Ven. Solanus joined the expanded efforts. Arthur Rutledge came to Ven.Solanus with a stomach tumor. Ven. Solanus told him go back to the doctor and check again, then come and help in the soup kitchen. The doctor found that the tumor was gone and the kitchen had a new volunteer.
During his final illness, he remarked: "I'm offering my suffering that all might be one. If only I could see the conversion of the whole world." His last conscious act was to sit up in bed and exclaim, "I give my soul to Jesus Christ." He died in Detroit at the age of 86 on July 31, 1957 and is buried at St. Bonaventure Monastery.