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Editorial Reflections

Recently beatified Fr. Solanus Casey was uncle of Fig Tree co-founder

News of a humble Franciscan Capuchin monk in Detroit, Fr. Solanus Casey, being one of only two U.S. men to be beatified on his road to sainthood in the Roman Catholic Church has significance in Spokane and for The Fig Tree.

His beatification Saturday, Nov. 18, in a Mass at Ford Field with 60,000 people came at this time because Paula Medina Zarate of Panama was instantly cured of a chronic skin disease when she prayed at his tomb in 2012.

Many people report changes in their lives after praying to him. Pope Francis said he met requirements for the rank of “blessed.”  His sainthood can be speeded up when there is a report of a second miracle.

Fr. Solanus was the uncle of Fig Tree co-founder and editor for 23 years, Holy Names Sister Bernadine Casey.

One of her passions was working with the Capuchin monks in Detroit to promote his sainthood.  She said he did not have the education to preach or hear confessions. For many years, he was the monastery doorkeeper, relating with those who came and went.

Sr. Bernadine said, however, he was known for his holiness as parents, unemployed people and those addicted sought his advice. Many asked him to ask God to heal them. He was a simple man who brought joy to the lives of many people, she said.

Sr. Bernadine helped his words of faith spring to life 43 years after his death in a collection of his letters that she selected and edited for the book, Letters from Solanus Casey, OFM CAP.

She often prayed to Fr. Solanus, revering him for his humility and the compassion with which he comforted families as they struggled with sickness and other problems.  She suggested praying to him to help find things.

In one letter, Fr. Solanus told a friend, “God condescends to use our power if we don’t spoil God’s plans by ours.”

In the introduction to the book, Sr. Bernadine pointed out that “Fr. Solanus, perhaps without being consciously aware of it, lived and preached a code that ran counter to the spirit and culture he knew in his 87 years of life.  He died in 1957.

Not only did it bring him happiness and deep joy, living even in the midst of suffering, but also the wisdom and compassion growing out of it brought positive things to the lives of thousands of other people, even in the midst of their suffering.”

Fr. Solanus grew up in Oak Grove, Wis., and joined the Capuchins in 1897 in Detroit.  He served 20 years in New York City before returning to St. Bonaventure Monastery in Detroit.

Later, when he was at a seminary in Huntington, Ind., people would go to visit him and wrote letters.

We at The Fig Tree could sense his gentle presence and peace through our association with Sr. Bernadine, who for many of us was a model of how to live, care and act in humility.

We rejoice with her and those who have worked to recognize the sainthood of a humble man.

Mary Stamp - Editor

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