Opening the Door to Miracles
Considered too slow to be anything but a monastery porter, Solanus Casey used his job to work wonders.
One of his assignments was the promotion of the Seraphic Mass Association. Capuchins used this association worldwide as a means of intercessory prayer. It was named in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, who near the end of his life had a vision of a seraph, a six-winged member of heaven's highest order of angels. Capuchins everywhere prayed at their daily worship for those enrolled in the association. Shortly after Solanus started signing people up, extraordinary things began to happen. Reports of spiritual and physical healings streamed in. People were being healed of all sorts of ailments-pneumonia, heart disease, memory loss, insanity, lameness, cataracts, polio, alcoholism, gangrene, and blindness, to name just a few.
In November 1923, the Capuchin superior directed Solanus to keep a record of the miracles. Eight months later, the superior transferred Casey to St. Bonaventure's in Detroit, the Midwestern Capuchin headquarters, where he could keep a close eye on the wonder-worker. In short order the new porter and his gifts attracted an ever-increasing following. Solanus began to lead a Wednesday afternoon healing service, and many people faithfully came to benefit from his prayers. For the next two decades, people from all over the world trekked to St. Bonaventure's to receive the porter's ministry.
William had long contemplated suicide. Solanus's notes do not give a reason for William's despondency, but after much suffering, he concocted a careful plan for taking his life. He would book passage on a boat traveling from Detroit to Cleveland and, as unobtrusively as possible, throw himself overboard along the way. His two sisters, who somehow got wind of his decision, kept him under close watch. Although riddled with fear for their brother, they didn't know what to do.
During this critical time, William's father died, magnifying his distress and therefore his danger. At the funeral, however, one of his sisters happened to find a pamphlet that mentioned the work of Solanus Casey. That very day she visited the priest and asked for his intercession on behalf of her troubled brother. Just four days later, the sister returned to tell Solanus that William had miraculously changed. Not only had he been suddenly released from his despair, she reported, but he was "praying, and full of hope," and making plans to go back to work.