Sunday, May 4, 2014

St. Francis of Assisi Parish and Fr. Solanus Casey

"Man's greatness lies in being faithful to the present moment.  We must be faithful to the present moment or we will frustrate the plan of God for our lives.  We are continually immersed in God's merciful grace, like the air that permeates us."  ~Venerable Fr. Solanus Casey
Venerable Fr. Solanus Casey (source)

St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Milwaukee (source)
St. Francis of Assisi Parish on 4th and Brown St. in Milwaukee, a German Church built in 1876 and run by the Capuchin Franciscans, has recently begun to hold a Blessing of the Sick Prayer Service on the first Friday of every month, at 2 PM, in honor of Fr. Solanus Casey.  Led by Fr. Mike Bertram, with the assistance of Fr. Marty Pable, the prayer service includes an opportunity for confession (at 1:30 PM), scripture readings and a homily, prayer intentions of gratitude and petition, an individual blessing with a relic of the True Cross, and the opportunity for Anointing of the Sick.

Fr. Mike Bertram,
Pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Parish (source)

I had the great joy of attending the most recent service with my sister and my son, and we found it to be deeply touching and filled with compassion for all of those present. Following the service and a light social, we were able to spend quite a bit of time talking with Fr. Bertram, who very generously and graciously shared a bit of the history of the church and the organ with us, as well as the story of Venerable Fr. Solanus Casey, for whom the prayer services are dedicated.

Fr. Bertram shared anecdotes about former pastors of the parish.  He told us about the financial savvy of a pastor from the 1980's whom Fr. Bertram credits with saving the beauty of the parish through great resourcefulness and clever bargaining with local painters.  He also told us about a pastor from the 1970's who had tried to sell the historic pipe organ that is now valued at over one million dollars, but his plan was thwarted, which turned out to be a blessing since the organ was built for the church and never would have sounded the same anywhere else.  The Schuelke Organ, built in 1885 for St. Francis of Assisi Parish, is one of only two in the United States from that era that is still in use today.  In 2013  a local organist offered a free recital hosted by the Wisconsin Chapter of the Organ Historical Society and the Milwaukee Chapter of American Guild of Organists.  For a small sampling of that recital as well as some sights of the inside of the church, visit this link or watch the you tube video at the end of this post.

Historic William Schuelke Pipe Organ from 1885 (source)
When it came to sharing stories of Fr. Solanus Casey, I'm sure that Fr. Bertram could have easily gone on for hours. His love and devotion to Fr. Casey was palpable.  He was clearly proud of the fact that Fr. Casey was a native Wisconsinite.  He told us about how Fr. Casey struggled in his seminary studies, and through a friendship with Archbishop Messmer who led the Archdiocese of Milwaukee at the time (sometimes it really is who you know) and who was impressed with Fr. Casey's holiness, Fr. Casey was ordained as a "simplex" priest, which meant that he was not allowed to preach or hear confessions.  When he was sent to Detroit, Michigan for the humble position of porter, he affected many lives through his ability to listen to their stories, pray for them, and somehow, bring about miraculous healings.  Fr. Casey loved the sick, but he also loved the poor very much and had great success in feeding the poor of Detroit, establishing a soup kitchen that still exists today.  Detroit likes to claim Fr. Casey as their own and he is deeply loved in that area.  Thousands of people make pilgrimages to visit his former home at St. Bonaventure Friary where he lovingly ministered to so many.

For more details about Fr. Solanus Casey and the Father Solanus Casey Guild, visit this link.  For more information about  St. Francis of Assisi Parish and the healing prayer services, visit this link.  And reading this link, a Milwaukee Catholic Herald story promoting the prayer services, has some some great information from Fr. Bertram.  Please note that there will not be a prayer service during the month of June as the Capuchins will be holding their tri-annual conference at this time.  The prayer services will resume on July 4th, 2014.  

Are you, or is someone you know, in need of healing? Why not plan to attend the monthly Blessing of the Sick services and pray to Fr. Solanus Casey for healing.  The peace and comfort you will find at the service and the possibility of a miraculous healing through the intercession of Fr. Casey await! 

relic from the Father Solanus Casey Guild given out at the prayer service


O God, I adore You. I give myself to You.
May I be the person You want me to be,
and may Your will be done in my life today.
I thank You for the gifts You gave to Father Solanus.
If it is Your Will, bless us with the beatification of
Venerable Solanus so that others may imitate
and carry on his love for all the poor and suffering of our world.
As he joyfully accepted Your divine plans,
I ask You, according to Your Will,
to hear my prayer for . . . (your intention)
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
“Blessed be God in all His designs.”
Imprimatur: Adam Cardinal Maida, Archbishop of Detroit
March 31, 2007   © F.S.G. 3/07


  1. Anne, I just love Father Solanus! How nice that you were able to visit that beautiful church.

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