Pointing at the bulletin letter's date (link) at left will display it's title.
July 19, 2009
Detroit’s Little Known Patron
There has been much talk about the recession in the past two years. Not the least among cities having been hard hit in our faltering economy is the famous center for the automobile industry, i.e., Detroit. If we are not history buffs we probably have not followed the rise and fall of Detroit. Most of us only know it for its present popularity made so by Henry Ford.
Detroit, like all other large cities, has its big business, its elite and its poor. If you travel through the city you will be reminded of the famous 1967 summer riots when large parts of the city crumbled under flames of fire than engulfed all too many homes. Sadly, the city has had difficulty rising from the ashes. Perhaps the inhabitants of the city would benefit from remembering their history and their “heroes” especially one by the name of Francis Solanus Casey.
There is a Solanus Casey Center which was built some years ago and still stands vibrant with life even today. It is a soup kitchen reaching out to the truly poor in the city. The goal of the center is to bring hope to a people who live in despair. The Capuchin Franciscans, of which Solanus was a member, continue to be creative in their attempts to expose the richness and potential to be found within the city.
Why all the attention on Detroit and on this little known man, Solanus Casey? First let us see who Solanus was. He was born Bernard Francis Casey of an Irish immigrant family in 1870 in Prescott, Wisconsin. He was still a very young man when he began experiencing the toll of the poor and downtrodden. He decided to study for the priesthood but difficulty with studies hindered ordination. He entered the Capuchin Franciscan friars and was able to be ordained as a “simplex” priest, one who could neither preach nor hear confessions officially.
His inability to preach did not prevent him from being a good listener to all who came to visit. Thousands of people in the city heard of this saintly man. They came to the door to visit and to be “advised” by the Holy man. In his simplicity Solanus gave hope to many. He healed the sick and never allowed anyone to be turned away in hunger even during the Great Depression. How did he manage that? He did it by faith and prayer.
Why is Solanus’ story relevant today? Francis Solanus was a man who would not stand still and allow his “world to be overwrought with grief. He encouraged the people to search for the grace of God that could be found budding in their very lives. There are all too few people like Francis Solanus in our world today. Perhaps if we took his example and lived our baptismal call to holiness we could do our share to help the crumbling world around us.
Lorette P. Nault
Reference: David Nantais: the America Magazine in the June 22 issue