Solanus Casey Pilgrimage

West Central Wisconsin's own 
Venerable Father Solanus Casey 
(1870 - 1957) 

Father Solanus Casey is a local hero.  He spent much of his adult ministry in Detroit, where he died and is buried, but his early years were spent here in West Central Wisconsin.

 
Geralyn Misura (left) is a sister of the La Crosse-based Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, which have assisted at St. Joseph Catholic School in Prescott since 1961.  

Sister Misura is President of the Prescott Birthplace of Father Solanus Circle of Solanus Casey's canonization guild.  She recently showed me some of the local Solanus Casey pilgrimage sites. 



Bernard Francis "Barney" Casey was born November 25, 1870 near Prescott in a small town named Oak Grove. That house is now gone but a life-size wooden statue of him marks the possible spot of the log cabin in which he was born.  

The place is now owned by a family of Casey admirerers who were surprised to hear that Oak Grove, WI was Casey's as well as their own home.

Studies of old land records showed that their current home is one of many located on land owned by the Caseys back in 1870.  Eighty to ninety acres along the Mississippi River - it would be worth a fortune now.  


A suspiciously recessed area on the property, when examined, bears resemblance to an old root cellar.  In honor of this possible birthsite, the current land owners commissioned a chainsaw-cut wooded statue of Casey to mark the spot.

Since it is on private land, I needed to make special arrangements to visit the site.  Casey's six foot height on a one foot stand towers over petite Sister Misura in the above picture.

Casey was baptised in St. Joseph Catholic Church, Prescott, WI (below).  In 1912 a new church building replaced the original building in which the baptism took place but this is one church that is REALLY excited about Casey's prospects for canonization.


The entryway is full of banners and pictures and holy cards of Casey.  A statue of him is even being made for the church.  there is a rule that his images cannot be placed inside the sanctuary itself until he is officially made a saint.  You get the sense, however, that it is a great effort to keep this abundant enthusiasm from overflowing into the sanctuary.
When Casey was still young his family moved to Trimbelle, near Ellsworth.  There his family attended St. Mary's - Big River.

The church today has a picture of him from the time when only half of his family could attend Mass on a given week. Casey was the sixth child in a family with ten boys and six girls.  (Two of those sisters died young while in Oak Grove of diptheria and are thought to be buried somewhere in St. Joseph Cemetery in Prescott.)  There wasn't enough room in the family cart for all to go at the same time.  A rotation system was used.

The family's next move was to Burkhardt, WI.  Casey made his First Holy Communion in 1883 nearby at St. Patrick Catholic Community in Hudson.  When they built their new church, the community donated one of the old stained glass windows, which had a Host and Ciborium on it, to the main guild office in Detroit to commemorate this.

After completing school in Burkhardt, Casey moved to Stillwater, MN, taking various jobs including as a prison guard.  this was to earn money to help his family move to better land in Superior.

The place of his confirmation is Stillwater's Church of St. Michael.  There you will find this stained glass window commemorating that sacrament received.


The Casey family did make it to Superior, where he was working as a streetcar operator in 1890.   

An experience during the course of his work there led him to pursue the diocesan priesthood at St. Francis DeSales High School Seminary in Milwaukee in 1892.  He found the studies there difficult and went the path of the Capuchin Order instead, taking the name Solanus.  He would later be ordained a deacon and then a priest in 1904 at St. Francis Church in Milwaukee.

From 1904 - 1924 Casey served parishes in the New York area.  From 1924 - 1945 he was in Detroit, MI.  After some moving from place to place he died in Detroit and is now buried there in St. Bonadventure Church at the Solanus Casey Center.

Sister Misura told me, "The day he died, July 31, 1957, . . . he died at 11 o'clock that day and they got word at the mother house around noon that this very holy Capuchin had passed away and they thought there would be more said about him down the line because they recognized his virtues."

Servant of God Solanus Casey was named Venerable on July 11, 1995 by Pope John Paul II.

Sister Misura began the local Prescott Birthplace of Father Solanus Circle in the mid-eighties.  It was the first off-shoot of the Father Solanus Guild which is based in Detroit and will celebrate its 50th anniversary of working and praying for Casey's canonization on May 8, 2010.

--November 2009--



To learn more about Venerable Father Solanus Casey visit


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