The Porter Priest
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The Porter Priest

"Blessed be God in all his designs"

The Porter Priest

Last November my parish was lucky enough to host an event called Treasures of the Church. This program goes around the country (maybe the world idk) inviting people into an encounter with the living God through the relics of Saints. I was profoundly moved by this experience, in a physical and intimate way I was able to interact with some of my favorite people! This encounter also led me to a series of articles I wanted to write. I hope to write about some of the saints who have had a profound impact on my life and hopefully share their friendship with all of you.

So he's not a Saint yet but Blessed Solanus Casey's willingness to serve God even in his life inspires me to look at even the most mundane task as an opportunity to glorify the Lord. It takes a special person to be able to take one's limitations and transform them into a great good for others, but this is exactly what Fr. Casey did.

Barney Casey came from a large, Irish family (sixteen kiddos). Like most Catholics to this day, he grew up learning about his faith from his parents. Also, like most boys, he enjoyed sports and the outdoors. Something I found very interesting about his life was that when his brothers would box each other Barney would not participate. Inflicting pain on another person was something that didn't match up with his values. I mean imagine the love and mercy in a young boys heart to recognize this, and the courage that he must have had to stick to this view.

As he grew up he took on a number of jobs that connected him with people and allowing him to interact and care for those around him, but at the age of 21, he responded to a call he had felt since early in his life. He entered seminary and found the studies to be difficult, so he eventually left the seminary. Still, Casey felt a call to serve the Lord as a Priest. Barney then joined the Capuchins in Detroit where he took on the name Solanus. Again, Casey found succeeding in seminary a struggle. He would pass the courses but with great difficulty. However, through his trust in God, he was allowed to be ordained a simplex priest. This meant that he could do all things any priest could do except hear confessions and preach doctrinally. The order made this decision because of concerns about his weaker understanding of theology.

Imagine this though, You spend your whole life dreaming of something and you get so close to that goal but you end up not being able to fulfill that dream in its entirety. I think most people including myself would be so frustrated with this, but not Bl. Solanus who accepted this with great humility never showing resentment.

Following his ordination Casey was sent to New York and was giving a number of simple jobs, you know the tasks that are given to the rookie friars, but it was in the role of porter (kinda like a doorkeeper) that he became known to the people of Yonkers, New York. His life of working with people allowed him to relate to those who visited the Parish. In-between letting them into the parish and taking them to where they needed to go he was able to speak with these people and help them in their struggles and bless them. He did this for so many people that pretty soon people came to the parish looking for him. This is a role he carried out for the rest of his life, both in Yonkers and Detroit. In this simple role Bl. Solanus Casey was able to reach so many people, to help them, to heal them. That when he died his service was attended by some 20,000 people, to pay their respect to this man who did so much for them.

The thing I take most from Bl. Casey is that his life exemplifies that God is constantly working in our lives and that we need to trust in His presence. Through the twists and turns through the changing situations, our Savior is there leading us to him and helping us bring him to others. Casey brought people closer to God simply by being there with them.

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