Fr. Matthias’ Family Was Devoted to Solanus Casey

Friar Voices

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.

Fr. Matthias Crehan, OFM

During 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 part 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.