- Associated Press - Thursday, May 4, 2017

DETROIT (AP) - Pope Francis on Thursday announced the beatification of Father Solanus Casey - a significant step toward canonization as a saint for the beloved Detroit priest.

Casey died in 1957 at age 86. He was a member of the Capuchin Franciscan Order of St. Joseph and one of the founders of Detroit’s Capuchin Soup Kitchen. Pope John Paul II granted him “venerable” status for a life of uncommon virtue in the service of God in 1995.

Archbishop Allen Vigneron of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit said the beatification of Casey “is an incomparable grace” for the church and the Detroit area. Casey was known for his gentle nature and healing powers. His reputation as a healer took root in the 1920s.

“He is an inspiration to all us Catholics - and to all - of the power of grace to transform one’s life,” Vigneron said in a statement.

Pope Francis made his announcement in Rome, the archdiocese said.

The Archdiocese of Detroit this year has been holding public events to remember Casey. His tomb at the Solanus Casey Center in Detroit attracts about 250,000 visitors a year seeking to pay their respects or receive blessings from Casey, the archdiocese said.

Some Catholics believe he interceded to bring miracles in their lives or the lives of loved ones.

Two Capuchin friars and others will continue to gather documentation of healings attributed to Casey’s intervention and that will be studied in Rome. Church officials in Detroit hope what is found will help advance the cause of sainthood for Casey.

“Long before we knew and loved Pope Francis, we had the example of Father Solanus,” said Father Michael Sullivan, provincial minister of the Capuchin Franciscan Province of St. Joseph. “Known for his compassion and simplicity, he drew many thousands to God.”

The Capuchin Soup Kitchen that Casey helped start in 1929 continues to provide food, clothing and human development programs in the Detroit area. Besides preparing and serving up to 2,000 meals a day, it also has an emergency food pantry, urban farm and bakery.





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