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Fr. Ed Dougherty, M.M., The Christophers’ Board of Directors

The Blessings of Father Solanus Casey

Father Solanus Casey once said, “If we only try to show the dear Lord a good will and ask him for resignation to the crosses he sends or permits to come our way, we may be sure that sooner or later they will turn out to have been just so many blessings in disguise.”

A Capuchin Friar who served in New York and Detroit in the first half of the 20th century, Father Solanus Casey came to be known as a wonderworker during his lifetime for the amazing results of the prayers he offered to God on behalf of those he served. In her book, “Nothing Short of a Miracle,” Patricia Treece recounts the story of Elizabeth Fanning of Dearborn, Michigan, a 16-month-old baby in 1940 who was dying of leukemia. With no other options, her parents took her to see Father Solanus, who was a 70-year-old priest of Detroit at the time.

When the Fannings arrived at St. Bonaventure’s Franciscan Capuchin monastery in Detroit, Father Solanus greeted them at the door. Describing their first impression of him, Treece writes, “The Franciscan who greets them so warmly wears the Capuchin brown robe, its pointed hood thrown back on his skinny shoulders. In spite of his untrimmed white beard, the old priest has the shining face of a happy child, his blue eyes as innocent as their baby’s.”

Father Solanus told Elizabeth’s parents that the only thing that would stop the power of God was their own doubt and fear. He encouraged them to have confidence and to thank God ahead of time for whatever blessings they will receive. Father Solanus spoke with Elizabeth for a few minutes and then said to her, “You’re going to be alright, Elizabeth.”

Elizabeth had been near death, listless and emaciated, but on the ride home she perked up and soon was full of life. In the days and weeks that followed, it became evident that she had been healed of leukemia, and the disease never returned. Treece writes, “In the late 1960s, when Betsy’s mother was interviewed by James Patrick Derum for his book on Fr. Solanus, The Porter of Saint Bonaventure’s, Mrs. Fanning recalled: ‘When I brought her back to the doctors, they were incredulous. She looked so differ­ent — healthy, lively, and her once wispy, lifeless hair was now curly.’” She recalls the doctors exclaiming, “That’s not Betsy!”

This is just one of the many miraculous instances surrounding the life of Father Solanus Casey. Having been ordained a priest simplex (a priest with reduced capacity due to gaps in his education), Father Solanus served as a porter in the Capuchin order, answering the door of the monasteries where he was stationed. Treece points out that it took a great deal of humility for him to accept this role but that he came to see it as a blessing because his ministry grew out of his amazing availability as the friar whose job it was to greet people at the door.

Our Christopher News Note Building a Relationship with Jesus states, “Our relationship with Jesus must be one of continual interior connection.” It is clear from the life he lived that Father Solanus understood this truth. He understood that his status in life meant nothing in comparison to his confidence in the grace of God. 

Pope John Paul II declared Father Solanus venerable in 1995, recognizing his life as being worthy of study and emulation. So pray with confidence for the intercession of Father Solanus Casey on your own journey to know Christ and trust God more completely. 

 

For free copies of the Christopher News Note BUILDING A RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS, write: The Christophers, 5 Hanover Square, New York, NY 10004; or e-mail: mail@christophers.org