“Blessed Solanus Casey’s Journey to Sainthood,” a film by local producer and director Keith Famie, will debut on Monday, Dec. 16 at Emagine Novi. The one-hour documentary then will be shown on Detroit Public TV/PBS on Thursday, Dec. 26.
Narrated by Chuck Gaidica, the film will feature stories about Blessed Solanus Casey, a Catholic priest and Franciscan Capuchin friar who served as porter of the St. Bonaventure Monastery at 1740 Mount Elliott St. in Detroit for 20 years. Born in 1875 and ordained in 1904, Casey was not allowed to preach formally or hear confessions because his superiors determined his knowledge of theology was weak.
However, he conducted services for the sick and attracted up to 200 people to the monastery’s front office each day for blessings and consultations. He also helped found a soup kitchen based at the monastery.
Casey also served as a friar in New York and Indiana and was previously a logger, hospital orderly, streetcar operator, and prison guard.
The film includes interviews from Capuchin friars and people from across the country who knew or were impacted by Casey. It will also explore what it was like for Casey to grow up in Wisconsin with Irish immigrant parents, what brought him to Michigan, and his impact on the creation of the Capuchin Soup Kitchen, which still is in operation at 1820 Mount Elliott St. in Detroit.
Casey was declared venerable in 1995 by Pope John Paul II. The title is the first in a series to becoming a Catholic saint. Pope Francis announced Casey would be beatified, or declared blessed, the second step, on May 4, 2017, and the ceremony took place on Nov. 18, 2017 at Detroit’s Ford Field. A third approved miracle will advance Casey to sainthood.
The film will help define miracles and discuss how faith plays a role in everyday life as well as where the Franciscan Friars originated and who they are today. Capuchins are one of the groups of the Franciscan Order.
“I am certain the story will become a lesson about how we treat one another, for anyone, no matter what faith beliefs they have,” says Famie.