Fr. Solanus Casey, who died in 1957 at the age of eighty-six, was recently declared Blessed in a beatification ceremony that put him one step and one miracle away from being declared a Catholic saint. A Franciscan friar and co-founder of the Capuchin Soup Kitchen in Detroit, he was much beloved by the people of Detroit whom he served.
“Making this gift to Sacred Heart was a beautiful way to express and honor the close bond between the Capuchin Order and the Archdiocese of Detroit,” said Father Charles Fox, director of graduate seminarians and director of Liturgy at Sacred Heart. “Blessed Solanus embodies for us what it means to love the sick and the poor here in the city of Detroit, and it is precisely his quiet example of love that has inspired the multitudes.”
Sixty thousand people packed Ford Field for Blessed Solanus Casey’s beatification Mass last November, to celebrate a man who cared for so many in the archdiocese. His life and service to the poor has always had a lasting impact on many of the seminarians. “This is for the seminary a great moment of joy. We are very blessed to have the opportunity to receive the relic of Blessed Solanus Casey, in a very particular way into the very heart of this seminary, into our chapel,” said Msgr. Todd J. Lajiness, president and rector of Sacred Heart. He went on to cite Blessed Solanus as a great role model for seminarians. “He is a wonderful example of priestly humility, priestly holiness, and a zeal for souls and especially the poor.”
Furthermore, Blessed Solanus continues to inspire those called to the priesthood within the Archdiocese of Detroit and beyond, particularly in his devotion to the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist and in the perseverance of his studies. “Blessed Solanus was known to spend long hours praying before the tabernacle, even late into the night. He drew his strength from our Eucharistic Lord, and it is essential that we priests and seminarians do likewise,” said Father Fox.
In addition, Br. Richard Merling, O.F.M., Cap., pointed out in his presentation of the relic on April 16 that Blessed Solanus encountered difficulties with his studies. “He struggled through his seminary days and I think that it is a wonderful message to all of you seminarians to be patient and hang on,” said Brother Merling. “Don’t give up too quickly on things because the spirit of God will be there to help you, whatever your needs are, especially in your studies.”
The life of Blessed Solanus Casey offers a real-life example of a man striving for holiness in our own archdiocese. He had a great love for the diocesan priesthood and had even been a diocesan seminarian at one time, with two brothers who were diocesan priests. The gift of this relic fits perfectly with Sacred Heart Major Seminary’s desire to form holy priests for service in dioceses and religious communities, and it is a great honor to share this gift as a permanent fixture in our chapel.