Feast Day: November 3
Venerated: July 11, 1995
As one of 16 children growing up on a farm in Wisconsin, Barney Casey learned about the importance of sharing. This virtue shaped his life and ministry. Bernard Francis Casey was born in 1870. His parents were from Ireland and raised their children in the Catholic faith.
Barney left the farm to work at a variety of jobs. He was a lumberjack, a prison guard, a hospital orderly, and even a streetcar operator, but none of these jobs satisfied him. He believed that God had other plans for him.
When he was 21 years old, Barney entered the seminary in Milwaukee, but he found the studies very difficult. Discouraged, he left. Five years later, he joined the Capuchin order in Detroit. He still had a difficult time learning theology, but he did not give up.
Barney was ordained in 1904. He took the name Solanus, the last name of a 17th-century saint. Although he was a priest, Father Solanus was not permitted to preach or hear confessions because of his weak theological skills. He believed this freed him to devote himself entirely to the ministry of service.
Father Solanus spent 20 years in Yonkers and Harlem, N.Y., working in relatively menial tasks. He worked as a porter in the Capuchin monastery in Detroit. In a religious order, the porter answers the door and greets all visitors. Day or night, Solanus listened to anyone who came to the monastery and promised to pray for them. He often blessed the visitors and became known as “the Doorkeeper.”
He led a prayer service for the sick every Wednesday. He started a soup kitchen that is still feeding the hungry today.
Father Solanus died in 1957 at the age of 86. More than 20,000 people prayed at his coffin before he was buried. He touched so many people’s lives with his generous and loving heart.
Pope John Paul II declared Father Solanus “Venerable” in 1995. This is the first step on the journey to sainthood. Solanus’ life helps us to remember that when we serve others, we serve Jesus.
Connecting to Be My Disciples®
Grade 4, chapter 13
Grade 5, chapter 17