Archive for the ‘Benedict Groeschel’ Category

Great news today:

Pope Francis announced May 4 that Detroit’s beloved Capuchin friar has met the requirements for beatification and will be named “blessed” — the second U.S.-born man to achieve such a designation and the first person from Michigan.

Although Fr. Solanus was born in Oak Grove, Wis., in 1870, he spent most of his adult life and ministry in Detroit, caring for the sick, poor and downtrodden and lending a listening ear and caring heart to the thousands who came to him for counsel, wisdom and aid.

Among the hundreds — if not thousands — of healings attributed to Fr. Solanus during and after his lifetime, Pope Francis recognized the authenticity of a miracle necessary for the friar to be elevated from “venerable” to “blessed” after a thorough review by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints, including panels of doctors and theologians, was completed earlier this year.

The declaration is here – and as usual, the list of approved causes moving forward provides an interesting glance at the breadth and depth and diversity of Catholicism.

Solanus Casey is very important to us here. My late husband Michael was devoted to him, and, for example, wrote this about Fr. Solanus as “The Priest who saved my life.” Of course, he died just a few weeks after writing that…but there was that other time….

(Here is a blog post of mine, written a few years later, reflecting on the very weirdly timed discovery of a photograph of Michael and Fr. Groeschel at the St. Felix Friary where Fr. Solanus had lived and where Fr. Groeschel had known him.)


When we lived in Fort Wayne in northern Indiana, we would often find our way to the Solanus Casey Center in Detroit – either because we were going to Detroit for some Solanus Casey Beatificationreason or we were on our way to Canada.  Solanus Casey has been important to our family, and I find him such an interesting person – and an important doorway for understanding holiness.

For that is what Solanus Casey was – a porter, or doorkeeper, the same role held by St. Andre Bessette up in Montreal.  They were the first people those in need would encounter as they approached the shrine or chapel.

And it was not as if Solanus Casey set out with the goal of being porter, either. His path to the Franciscans and then to the priesthood was long and painful and in some ways disappointing. He struggled academically and he struggled to fit in and be accepted, as one of Irish descent in a German-dominated church culture. He was finally ordained, but as a simplex priest – he could say Mass, but he could not preach or hear confessions – the idea being that his academic weaknesses indicated he did not have the theological understanding deemed necessary for those roles.

But God used him anyway. He couldn’t preach from a pulpit, but his faithful presence at the door preached of the presence of God.  He couldn’t hear confessions, but as porter, he heard plenty poured from suffering hearts, and through his prayers during his life and after his death, was a conduit for the healing grace of God.

This is why the stories of the saints are such a helpful and even necessary antidote to the way we tend to think and talk about vocation these days, yes, even in the context of church. We give lip service to being called and serving, but how much of our language still reflects an assumption that it’s all, in the end, about our desires and our plans? We are convinced that our time on earth is best spent discovering our gifts and talents, nurturing our gifts and talents, using our gifts and talents in awesome ways that we plan for and that will be incredible and amazing and world-changing. And we’ll be happy and fulfilled and make a  nice living at it, too. 

I don’t know about you, but I need people like Solanus Casey to surround me and remind me what discipleship is really about.

He’s in the Loyola Kids Book of Heroes. Here’s the first page. 

Solanus Casey Beatification


For the most up-to-date news on the cause, check out the Fr. Solanus Casey Guild Facebook page. 


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After two years of cleaning, organizing, moving, unpacking and packing, you would think I had seen it all.

But I hadn’t.

Yesterday, Tyler Ottinger, a designer at OSV dropped me a note and attached a photo – one that I’d never seen before.


The photo was taken at St. Felix  Friary in Huntington in 2005.  The Capuchin friary was built in 1928. Fr. Solanus Casey was there for a time, and Fr. Benedict Groeschel served his – (I think) – novitiate there. The friary shut down and was sold to a group associated with the United Brethren Church in 1978, but just last year was sold again, to a foundation with Catholic connections which is in the process of renovating the property so that it can be used as a retreat center.

Stories here

A group of brothers visited the friary late last month and returned furnishings that had been scattered throughout the building to their proper places.

Huge tables, built by the brothers who once lived in the friary, were located and returned to the dining hall.

“It looks like it looked 50 or 60 years ago,” Rieder says. “It’s just beautiful. There’s not a nail in the whole table, but they weigh a ton.”

The friars, Wharton says, were self-sufficient – they made their own furniture as well as their own clothing; they grew their own fruits and vegetables; and they had their own vineyard.

While the building is showing its years – it was built in 1928 – Wharton and Rieder both say it’s in good shape.
“The Brethren took good care of the building,” Rieder says. “They kept one room as a shrine to Father Solanus Casey. I admire them for doing that.”

The room is locked, but its contents are easily visible through a window in the door. A brown robe lies on the small bed, and an old-fashioned rotary telephone sits on an unadorned desk.

and here:

Overgrown brush and 120 dead trees have been removed from the grounds. Under the direction of Fort Wayne contractor Bob Rowlett, stone fences and a shrine to the Virgin Mary have been restored. The roof has been repaired, new windows will be installed and the old brick building will be tuck-pointed. Inside, volunteers are painting and plumbing problems are being corrected. The heating system will be improved, but air conditioning isn’t in the cards, Mayo said. Many visitors want to feel what Casey and other residents felt, even the occasional discomfort. Other historic features will remain as well, including wooden latches in place of many doorknobs and steel pull-down fire doors – unusual in a building of that era.

As built, St. Felix had room for 120 residents – most doubled up in small rooms with barely enough room for two twin beds and a dresser. The United Brethren reduced the number of rooms by knocking out some walls, but otherwise the place is mostly intact, with original woodwork and art still visible.

It was one of Mike’s favorite places to take people on tour.  The Brethren welcomed visitors, and while they used the property, they really had not done much to obscure its origins.  To tell the truth, Mike always thought that OSV should have purchased the property and moved their offices out there.

Anyway, I am astonished at this photo.  The painted emblem above the doorframe is the type that’s above every doorframe in the property.  I imagine that in this photo Fr. Groeschel is showing Mike where Fr. Solanus’ room was, as well as his own.


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