FRANCISCAN FRIARS Office of Communications Province of St. John the Baptist

www.franciscan.org

November 02, 2017

Their lives were touched by holiness

COMPILED BY TONI CASHNELLI

FILE PHOTOSFr. Solanus Casey, OFM Cap: Over the years, thousands sought his counsel and his blessing.Do you believe in miracles?

Thousands who received comfort and counsel from Fr. Solanus Casey, OFM Cap, were convinced that this humble Franciscan was an instrument of God. Among them are a number of friars from St. John the Baptist Province. Most were children in Detroit when Solanus, besieged by seekers at St. Bonaventure Monastery, gave their loved ones help and hope. Asked to recall the encounters, they described the impact this remarkable man had on their lives.

One of them will be there Nov. 18 (see Page 3) when an estimated 70,000 people gather at Ford Field for the Beatification of Solanus, who never promised miracles, but always promised prayers.

Fr. John Paul Flajole, OFM

John Paul Flajole, OFMThe first thing is, when I was very small, 2 or 3, we lived in the parish of St. Patrick. It wasn’t too far from St. Bonaventure. My grandfather Henry had a devotion to Fr. Casey; he took me over to St. Bonaventure and Fr. Solanus blessed me.

The second thing is, I had a Capuchin friend, Fr. Claude Pulvermacher, who was at the Capuchin novitiate [in Huntington, Ind.] when Fr. Solanus was there. He told me that Solanus was a great intercessor and that people were calling him every day from all over the country to pray for their intentions. When Solanus was on the phone the novices would walk by slowly so they could hear the conversation. One of the things he kept repeating to people on the phone was, “Have more faith.” So when novices were having a hard day, they’d be saying to one another, “Have more faith, brother.”

The third thing is, I was minister to the Secular Franciscans in Howell, Mich., many years  They stood in line to see Solanus in the front parlor of St. Bonaventure Monastery.ago. The director was Mary Wolfe, a very good lady, and she had a sick baby the doctor had given up on. She and her husband contacted Fr. Solanus and asked him to pray for the child. Mary’s faith in him was very great; she knew of other people who had received favors through his prayers. The baby lived, and that’s all I know.

Fr. Bert Heise, OFM

Bert Heise, OFMMy mother had a lump in her breast, so she went down from Southfield, Mich., to see Fr. Solanus, and she took my sister Mary Lou, who was maybe 3 years old. Mary Lou remembered every detail of the visit. They got in line to see Solanus. He sat at a desk, and they sat in chairs against the wall on three sides of the room and he took them in order.

If Solanus told you, “Don’t worry about it,” you didn’t. If he said, “Let’s pray about it,” you were in trouble. He told my mother, “Don’t worry about it.” Was she OK? Absolutely! He was always right. Then he played with my little sister and gave her a lollipop. He was extremely friendly. It really impressed her and she always remembered it.

Fr. Matthias Crehan, OFM

Matthias Crehan. OFMDuring the 20 years Fr. Solanus was there, Detroit was really impoverished and many families were hurting. Everybody went to see him for counseling. Solanus helped a lot of people, my own family included, get through the Depression when things were tight. When he helped to open the [Capuchin] soup kitchen, it was  Top, Solanus co-founded the soup kitchen; above, hospital roundspart of his response to the Depression. He was humble, quiet, prayerful. He brought a lot of people back to the Church.

My mother would take the kids to get his blessing and to seek counsel. She went to the front parlor of the old monastery; that whole section was given to Solanus. He was ordained “simplex”, so he couldn’t hear confessions. He wasn’t allowed to preach publicly, but he could do counseling. My brother was very sick at one time and my mom went down for a blessing from Fr. Solanus. His big phrase was, “It’ll be OK; it’ll be all right.”

It was important to me as a child in Detroit, knowing about my family’s great devotion to him. Solanus was part of their life from the time they moved to Detroit in 1930 and while they were there and raised a family. He was a topic of our conversation, part of the spiritual journey of an Irish Catholic family. He devoted his whole life to giving blessings and renewing faith in person.

I’ve been anticipating this [the Beatification] for years. Tickets went out when it was announced. I wasn’t going to go, but then Fr. Jeremy [Harrington] called and said he had some extra tickets, so I said, “By darn, I’m gonna go.” This is a Franciscan thing. There will be Franciscans from all over the country, a lot of people who knew him or were touched by him, people he impacted, their children or grandchildren.

I’m sure my mom is up there celebrating with Solanus. And he’s probably deferring in his humility.

Fr. Joe Hund, OFM

Joe Hund, OFMFr. Solanus made a big impact on East-siders in Detroit. In 1987, 30 years after Solanus died, I did my CPE training [Clinical Pastoral Education] at downtown Harper Hospital, mostly for East-siders. I saw in my rounds that most of the patients in the hospital had a picture of Solanus Casey pinned to their hospital garment. That’s how strong their devotion was. Patients would say that their intentions were that they hoped he would heal them.

Fr. Solanus was very humble, very prayerful. There is a story I heard from Fr. Andre McGrath that after Duns Scotus College was built in 1930 there was a Franciscan conference inviting the Capuchins from St. Bonaventure. Solanus went to Duns Scotus and during the time he was there he pointed his finger and said something like, “This is not pleasing to Lady Poverty” because he thought Duns Scotus was too expensively built.

Fr. Maynard Tetreault, OFM

Maynard Tetreault, OFMIn 1943 when my brother was about 13 years old, he had a terrible case of tetanus he got from cutting his knee on a rusty knife. In those days we didn’t bother with tetanus shots or anything. He was deathly ill. I was 9, and I remember the principal of Visitation School went on the public address system and told  everybody that Jimmy Tetreault was very sick and might be dying and that we should pray for him.

He was very weak; he was seeing double. He lost his appetite and had spasms. My mother made a chocolate cake  Thousands came seeking solace and support.that was his favorite and he wouldn’t touch it. The doctor said, “He either has spinal meningitis or lockjaw.” Of course, spinal meningitis is very contagious. They sent him to Herman Kiefer Hospital, a public health hospital for infectious diseases. In the hospital they decided it was tetanus. The priest came in and heard Jimmy’s confession and gave him the sacrament of the sick.

My mother was a member of the Third Order with the Capuchins at St. Bonaventure. That’s how she knew about Fr. Solanus. She and Dad and I took a streetcar and a bus to go and ask for his prayers. I remember we waited a while to see him; there was always a long line. My mother said, “Fr. Solanus, my son has lockjaw.” Solanus had a great affection for children. He said, “I will pray for him, but you have to pray, too.” When we left we were not greatly encouraged.

Weeks later, Jimmy was better. He got over it. It might have been a month that he was back in school. Now my brother is 87, a retired professor of literature who had a wonderful career at New York U and Columbia.

We didn’t say it was a miracle, and we never got around to proving it. I’m sure Fr. Solanus’ prayers helped a lot. He was a very humble guy. He would always tell people, “My prayers are no better than yours.”

Seeking Solanus

Loren Connell. OFMIn the late ‘40s and early ‘50s, Solanus lived at St. Felix Friary in Huntington, Ind.  Mother apparently heard of a Capuchin friar there who was known for his saintly advice.  I remember one Sunday afternoon in the mid ‘50s when Mother, Dad, my brother John and I drove to the friary.

Those were troubling times for Mother, and she wanted to meet the holy man.  We were told that he no longer lived there.  I now assume that the friar whom she wanted to see was Solanus.  At the time, I was spooked by the friars’ beards, sandals, brown robes, and white ropes.

–Fr. Loren Connell, OFM

Faces in the crowd

Among the estimated 70,000 faithful expected to fill Ford Field, SJB Province will be well-represented at the Nov. 18 Beatification of Fr. Solanus Casey, OFM Cap, in Detroit. Friars Michael Radomski, Philip Wilhelm, Ed Gura and Louie Zant plan to attend. Al Mascia is volunteering at the event with a parish group. Provincial Minister Mark Soehner will concelebrate, along with Matthias Crehan and Jeremy Harrington.

Duns Scotus Friary in Berkley is supporting the effort by hosting two Capuchin friars from Mexico. The Mass begins at 4 p.m.; it will be livestreamed on the Internet and broadcast on cable TV and radio.

 

Celebrating progress, dialogue

BY FR. JEREMY HARRINGTON, OFM

PHOTOS BY PAULA HILLMANTop, giving thanks in the gathering space; above, Dennet and the Lutheran pastors spoke.Sunday in our gathering area Transfiguration Parish in Southfield hosted an interfaith service,  “Lutherans/Catholics/Protestants: Observing 500 Years of Christian Renewal and 50 Years of Christian Dialogue.”  Fr. Dennet Jung and I planned it with Pastors Jackie Rau of Emmanuel Lutheran Church on Lahser Road and Tim Larson of Peace Lutheran Church on 13 Mile.

I gave the welcome and explained that the occasion for the gathering was commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation and the 50th anniversary of “From Conflict to Communion,” a statement issued by Catholics and Lutherans. He said we realized we were not in complete unity but were giving thanks and praise to God for progress we had made.

Dennet and each of the Lutheran pastors spoke during the service. Emmanuel Lutheran’s choir sang.  Seven Christian groups worship at different times at Peace Lutheran.  Five of them participated and brought musical groups. There was a variety of spirited music.

We prayed the Apostles’ Creed in the beginning, later the Our Father. We concluded with spontaneous shared prayer. Anyone could speak an intention and many did. We gave each other peace and then had a blessing.

The services lasted almost two hours, followed by a reception in the hall. Seventy people from our church and the other two parishes participated.

  • PHOTO FROM kofc.orgKnights are raising funds for resettlement and rebuilding.Br. John Barker draws our attention to this important campaign: “The Provincial Council recently approved a contribution to the Knights of Columbus Christian Refugee Relief fund. I wanted to alert our readers to this important work that the Knights are doing to help persecuted and displaced Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East. The Knights are currently raising money to save Karamles, a predominantly Christian town in Iraq that was recently liberated from ISIS. Hoping to raise at least $2 million, the Knights will move hundreds of families back to their homes. Parishes and other groups interested in helping out with this valuable work can find out more at the Knights’ website: Kofc.org.”
  • Tell your friends! Share the links! We’re celebrating National Vocation Awareness Week, Nov. 5-11, with a weeklong series of videos in which SJB friars tell the inspirational stories of how they became Franciscans. Look for them starting Sunday on Facebook at and on YouTube.
  • Kelly Sundberg’s name should have been among those announced last week in a story about co-workers chosen to participate in an Assisi pilgrimage in 2018 as part of the province’s Sharing Our Charism program. Kelly is with Franciscan Media. Our apologies, Kelly!
  • PHOTO FROM FRANCISCAN MEDIASo many books to choose from: Friars share their recommendations.Read any good Catholic books lately? Franciscan Media asked friars Frank Jasper, Dan Kroger, Pat McCloskey and Don Miller to recommend a few. See what they suggested on FM’s blog at: http://blog.franciscanmedia.org
  • If you have extra presider chalices, Fr. David Endres would be happy to have them. He writes:  “Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Cincinnati is seeking the donation of chalices (suitable for use by the principal celebrant) that could be returned to sacramental use.  As ordination class sizes have increased, some of the soon to be ordained have requested help with finding a chalice to use in their ministries.   If you are aware of a chalice that could be donated, contact Fr. Ryan Ruiz at rruiz@mtsm.org or 513-233-4278.”
  • The November issue of Fraternitas is available for downloading at: google.com

Fr. Mel Brady, OFMSo many people in the middle part of the last century had their lives touched by a simple friar.  Fr. Solanus Casey, OFM Cap, was a walking icon of Jesus:  humble, direct, healing people, distributing food.  One of the great blessings of my life was to live with Fr. Mel Brady, OFM, at St. Aloysius in Detroit.  He loved to tell stories of his life, which included the following:

When Mel was a grade school student in Detroit, Sister came into his classroom one day and announced that she needed four boys to serve at the Mass of Fr. Solanus Casey.  Mel was one of the four boys she chose and then excused from class.  He said they were all pretty happy to be chosen.

After the Mass, in the sacristy, the four boys lined up to wait for Fr. Solanus to enter and say the “Deo Gratias!”  After this greeting, Fr. Solanus looked intently at the boys and simply said, “You four boys will all be priests someday.”  Then he left.

Mel recalled, “And all four of us did become priests!”

 

— Fr.  Mark Soehner, OFM

 

 

Send comments or questions to: sjbfco@franciscan.org

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FRANCISCAN FRIARS Office of Communications Province of St. John the Baptist

The third thing is, I was minister to the Secular Franciscans in Howell, Mich., many years  They stood in line to see Solanus in the front parlor of St. Bonaventure Monastery.ago. The director was Mary Wolfe, a very good lady, and she had a sick baby the doctor had given up on. She and her husband contacted Fr. Solanus and asked him to pray for the child. Mary’s faith in him was very great; she knew of other people who had received favors through his prayers. The baby lived, and that’s all I know.

  • PHOTO FROM kofc.orgKnights are raising funds for resettlement and rebuilding.Br. John Barker draws our attention to this important campaign: “The Provincial Council recently approved a contribution to the Knights of Columbus Christian Refugee Relief fund. I wanted to alert our readers to this important work that the Knights are doing to help persecuted and displaced Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East. The Knights are currently raising money to save Karamles, a predominantly Christian town in Iraq that was recently liberated from ISIS. Hoping to raise at least $2 million, the Knights will move hundreds of families back to their homes. Parishes and other groups interested in helping out with this valuable work can find out more at the Knights’ website: Kofc.org.”
  • PHOTO FROM FRANCISCAN MEDIASo many books to choose from: Friars share their recommendations.Read any good Catholic books lately? Franciscan Media asked friars Frank Jasper, Dan Kroger, Pat McCloskey and Don Miller to recommend a few. See what they suggested on FM’s blog at: http://blog.franciscanmedia.org

PHOTOS BY PAULA HILLMANTop, giving thanks in the gathering space; above, Dennet and the Lutheran pastors spoke.Sunday in our gathering area Transfiguration Parish in Southfield hosted an interfaith service,  “Lutherans/Catholics/Protestants: Observing 500 Years of Christian Renewal and 50 Years of Christian Dialogue.”  Fr. Dennet Jung and I planned it with Pastors Jackie Rau of Emmanuel Lutheran Church on Lahser Road and Tim Larson of Peace Lutheran Church on 13 Mile.

Office of Communications Province of St. John the Baptist

The third thing is, I was minister to the Secular Franciscans in Howell, Mich., many years  They stood in line to see Solanus in the front parlor of St. Bonaventure Monastery.ago. The director was Mary Wolfe, a very good lady, and she had a sick baby the doctor had given up on. She and her husband contacted Fr. Solanus and asked him to pray for the child. Mary’s faith in him was very great; she knew of other people who had received favors through his prayers. The baby lived, and that’s all I know.

  • PHOTO FROM kofc.orgKnights are raising funds for resettlement and rebuilding.Br. John Barker draws our attention to this important campaign: “The Provincial Council recently approved a contribution to the Knights of Columbus Christian Refugee Relief fund. I wanted to alert our readers to this important work that the Knights are doing to help persecuted and displaced Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East. The Knights are currently raising money to save Karamles, a predominantly Christian town in Iraq that was recently liberated from ISIS. Hoping to raise at least $2 million, the Knights will move hundreds of families back to their homes. Parishes and other groups interested in helping out with this valuable work can find out more at the Knights’ website: Kofc.org.”
FRANCISCAN FRIARS
Office of Communications Province of St. John the Baptist