PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Thousands of Catholics will gather at Ford Field in Detroit Saturday for the beatification of a priest who died 60 years ago.
Rev. Solanus Casey will be celebrated during the special Mass, after which he will be only one step away from sainthood.
His work was quiet and humble, but even decades after his death, his legacy draws faithful to his tomb every day. Solanus Center volunteer Wendy Annello says visitors are touched by “the grace, the peace with him, the gentleness with him.”
“Everything about who he was as a person should be emulated by all of us,” she continued.
In 2012, a Panamanian woman’s genetic skin condition was cured as she prayed at Casey’s tomb. That miracle led to his beatification.
Four hundred West Michigan Catholics will make the trip to the beatification Mass, which is expected to attract 70,000. Julie Buehler of Belmont and 18 of her family members be among them.
Buehler is hoping her prayers to Casey bring a cure to the aggressive form of breast cancer she’s been fighting for the past year.
“I’ve got my grandkids praying and my husband and my children and I worry about what will happen if they don’t get their prayers answered the way they want them to be,” Buelher said.
She believes miracles come in many forms.
“It doesn’t have to be curing the cancer, but it means that we are at peace with however this turns out,” Buehler said. “If my cancer is for a purpose, I hope that it brings people back to the faith. That would be my miracle.”
Casey, a Capuchin priest, came from humble beginnings. The Wisconsin farm boy was born in 1870 and barely made it through seminary. But his faith never wavered. Assigned to a Detroit parish during the Great Depression, he opened the door to the poor, hungry and ailing. His message and reputation as a spiritual adviser spread far and wide.
“This humble man who just answered the door and then people would go, ‘Oh my gosh, go to Solanus Casey and talk to him and see what he has to say,'” Buehler said. “His faith must have been so deep to be able to have that kind of communication with God and to be able to say something to people that says you are going to be cured. It’s like, wow.”
Buehler is hoping to receive that miracle, no matter what form it comes in and no matter what turn her life takes.
“Just knowing that God was with us through it all,” she said. “And it’s OK.”
Bishop David J. Walkowiak of the Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids released this statement on the beatification:
“With great joy we join the Capuchins, the people and clergy of the Archdiocese of Detroit, and Catholics around the world in celebrating this historic moment.
“Father Solanus lived the Gospel message through the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. He spent time counseling the doubtful, comforting the sorrowful, feeding the hungry, visiting the sick, and caring for the poor. His life’s work embodies the mission we are all called to as disciples – a life of service to others.
“As we commemorate this step along Father Solanus’ journey to sainthood, let us reflect on his life and how we can live the Gospel of mercy in our own lives. We pray for the intercession of Father Solanus and the blessing of his grace and wisdom.”