Detroit priest, Solanus Casey, to be beatified as a saint Saturday

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(WJRT) (11/14/2017) - Each year, nearly 100,000 people come from across the world to the Solanus Casey Center in Detroit to pray to Fr. Solanus.

An answer to one of those prayers is the reason he'll be beatified as a saint Saturday.

"People were drawn to him because of his goodness, his obvious holiness and just his disposition and personality -- constantly giving," said Fr. Larry Webber.

He said Fr. Solanus wasn't able to preach or hear confession, so their order, the Capuchins, decided he'd man the door of the monastery.

"And that's where God used him as an instrument to touch thousands, literally tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people," Webber said.

People from Detroit and beyond would go see Fr. Solanus when someone in their family was sick or they were dealing with a crisis.

"They asked him to keep a record of the favors that he -- you know, people came and asked him -- and then what the results would be," Webber said.

When Fr. Solanus died in 1957, several of his followers took that information and other testimony to Rome, pushing for him to become a saint.

In 1995, Pope John Paul II declared him "Venerable."

Next, they needed proof Fr. Solanus performed a miracle. Webber said five years ago they got it when a woman with a genetic skin condition was praying at his tomb.

"It's sort of like scales all over your body. And so, she knelt back down, became very emotional, asked for help with this healing of herself and she started feeling something happening to her body," he said. "She didn't know what it was. Within a day, everything had fallen off."

In May of this year, Pope Francis affirmed the miracle, allowing Fr. Solanus to become "Blessed."

He'll receive the title during his beatification Saturday at Ford Field.

Some 70,000 people from across the world are expected to be in attendance. Thousands of those are traveling from Mid-Michigan for the ceremony, including several members of Holy Family Catholic Church.

Each year, the 8th grade class at Holy Family studies Fr. Solanus and visits the center on a field trip.

"You could pray there and I prayed there and my mom was with me there too," 8th grader Taryn Daclison said. "We both prayed there and it was cool."

They knelt at Fr. Solanus' tomb like hundreds of thousands of people from around the world have for years.

"She came to my room the night after and said my miracle just happened. It wasn't like a big miracle," Daclinson said. "She didn't tell me what it was about, but she was just happy. And so, he answered her prayer."

Similar stories can be told by nearly anyone who has asked Fr. Solanus for his healing power, including Daclison's classmate, Abby Vaughn.

"My grandma would talk about him all the time because of her uncle who got healed by him in the hospital when he had like a tumor in his stomach," Vaughn said.

She said Fr. Solanus came to visit her great-great-uncle in the hospital and right before his surgery, the tumor disappeared.

"It's like amazing," Vaughn said. "It's something that I've grown up with and they're so proud of it."

Her family is making their way to Ford Field on Saturday in thanksgiving.

"It gives you the aspiration to be more like them," Vaughn said.

That's exactly the lesson Webber is hoping makes an impact.

"We're actually astounded by the response, grateful to God and then trusting that this is going to be because God wants to make a statement here in Detroit, that he is present and that faith is something that is effective," he said.

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