DETROIT — A papal representative praised Blessed Solanus Casey for his exemplary love of God and neighbor on Saturday, when the late friar was beatified at a large-scale ceremony at Ford Field.
“His profound faith allowed him to receive others as a brother, independently of their race or religion,” Cardinal Angelo Amato said in an echoing sermon that reached more than 65,000 in the covered stadium in downtown Detroit and many more who watched the ceremony live online.
Blessed Casey is the second U.S.-born man to be beatified by the Catholic Church, which holds beatification as a final step on the path toward sainthood. A beatified individual carries the title “blessed” and is believed to be with God in Heaven.
Pope Francis announced in May that Blessed Casey would be elevated to this status, following the documentation of a miraculous healing that the Catholic Church has attributed to his intercession; it took place for a woman inexplicably healed of a genetic skin disorder after a visit to the Solanus Casey Center in Detroit in 2012.
Clergy march in a processional before the Beatification Mass ceremony for Father Solanus Casey, the second U.S.-born man to be beatified by the Catholic Church, in Detroit. About 150 Toledoans attended the ceremony on Saturday.
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Blessed Casey has long been a prominent figure in Detroit, where he served at St. Bonaventure Monastery, under the Capuchin Franciscan Province of St. Joseph, for more than 20 years, beginning in 1924. He is remembered as co-founder of the city’s still-running Capuchin Soup Kitchen and as a wise counselor to many as porter, or doorkeeper, at the monastery.
The Father Solanus Casey Guild formally initiated his cause for sainthood in 1966, nine years after his death. He has held the title of “venerable” since 1995, and at least one more miracle must be attributed to his intercession before his cause can be advanced to canonization.
More than 150 Toledo-area residents were among the crowd that witnessed the Beatification Mass on Saturday. They left in three buses, two organized through the Diocese of Toledo and one independently by Toledoan Magdalena Skiles.
“It’s a once in a lifetime experience,” said Erin Gomez, a Waterville resident who arrived on one of diocesan-organized buses.
Bill and Linda Walborn, who live outside Whitehouse, spoke similarly about the ceremony from their seats inside the stadium.
Ms. Walborn said she has been drawn to Blessed Casey since 1998, when she was dealing with a heart condition and stumbled onto information about him in a chapel. She estimated that she visited the Solanus Casey Center approximately 20 times in the years that followed.
Carol Fox, of Port Clinton, also commented on the day’s significance.
“Not everyone understands the depths of what this man has done in his life to reach this,” she said.
“And it’s so close to home,” she added. “This is like a gift given to us.”
The Mass itself started at 4 p.m., although stadium seats began to fill as soon as doors opened at 2 p.m. Hundreds queued in long lines throughout the stadium in the hours before the service started, waiting both for concession snacks and for a Catholic priest to hear their confession.
Cardinal Amato, prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints, presided over the Mass and the Rite of Beatification, which began approximately 15 minutes into the service.
The cardinal read and presented the papal decree that Pope Francis signed in May. An image of Blessed Casey also was unveiled, and several beneficiaries of favors attributed to the late friar’s intercession carried relics to the altar.
The service then continued under the format of a Catholic Mass. It lasted about 2½ hours.
Ms. Skiles said afterward she was moved to tears by the Beatification Mass. She runs the Padre Pio Prayer Group through Christ the King Catholic Church in Toledo, and holds a special devotion to Blessed Casey, who, like St. Padre Pio, was a Capuchin friar.
“I thought that the Mass was passionate, exemplifying love and family, especially for all of us who have a unique individual relationship with Father Solanus,” she said.
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