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Diocese of Rockville Centre

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Venerable Solanus Casey Print E-mail

Prayer from Ven. Solanus Casey, OFM called:  “Life”

Do not pray for easy lives.
Pray to be stronger.
Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers.
Pray for powers equal to your tasks

 - then the doing of your work shall be no miracle, but you shall be a miracle.
Every day you shall wonder at the richness of life which has come to you by the grace of God.
But everyone needs someone - knowing that somewhere, someone is thinking of you.

Porter for God

The concept of opening a door can have meanings on many levels. We can open doorways to opportunity, success, and good fortune. We can “be” an open doorway for someone else. But few people can claim to be a doorkeeper to Heaven. Venerable Solanus Casey was one such person, a humble porter who literally and figu-ratively opened doors for souls.

Born on November 25, 1870 in Wisconsin, Bernard “Barney” Francis Casey was the sixth child in a family of sixteen! Is it any wonder that from an early age he learned the values of frugality and trust in Divine Provi-dence. His family lived on a farm, but it was not faring well and young Barney set out at age 17 to get work elsewhere. He worked for several years as a prison guard, streetcar op-erator, hospital orderly and logger. He considered marriage, but felt a calling to the priesthood, especially after once witnessing the violent mur-der of a young woman, which he saw as symbolizing “the world’s sin and hate and man-made misery.” (Biography, James Derum)

He applied to the diocesan seminary in Milwaukee, but he struggled with his classes. Finally his superior gently suggested that perhaps the priesthood was not his calling. Barney Casey, however, would not be discouraged. He traveled to Detroit to enter the Capuchin monastery. There he took the name Solanus and, after many years and much hard work, was ordained a “simplex” Capuchin priest in 1904. (Simplex priests are able to cele-brate Mass and live the live of a priest with the exception of hearing confessions and preaching homilies.)

Venerable Solanus Casey IconFr. Solanus was overjoyed at having reached his goal. His first assignment was to Sacred Heart in Yonkers, NY. Here he began as a sacristan but soon became the porter, a vocation within a vocation which lasted for most of his life. After fourteen years he was sent to Our Lady of the Angels and then St. Bonaventure’s in Detroit where he continued in his occupation as porter. It was in this humble duty at all three parishes that his gifts began to emerge.

Although not allowed to hear confessions, when people would come to the door he would listen to their problems and pray with them. He would give small heal-ing services for those who were ill, and soon people would return to tell him of their cures and answered prayers. One of his superiors asked him to keep a journal of these occurrences, and book after book soon were filled with his entries of prayers and miracles.

He was sought out more and more by people coming for blessings and prayer. One of his favor-ite prayers was to tell people to “thank God ahead of time” for His answer. His spirituality was simple: take one’s eyes off of oneself, wait patiently and trust in God no matter what His response. In this way he touched many without preaching a single sermon. By the time of his death at 86 in 1957, he had filled more than seven notebooks with thousands of “special favors” granted by God. He truly was God’s porter, humbly pointing the way to Christ.