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As Father Solanus gets closer to sainthood, nun shares childhood memories of the late Detroit priest

Nov 15, 2017

This Saturday, some 70,000 people will pack Ford Field in Detroit.

They'll witness a ceremony called beatification. It will elevate a humble Capuchin priest to the title of Blessed.

When Father Solanus Casey becomes Blessed Solanus, he will be one step away from Catholic sainthood, something no American-born priest has accomplished.

“I think of his humility first and his wisdom second," Sister Milne said while reminiscing about knowing Father Solanus when she was a child.
Credit COURTESY OF SISTER THERESA MILNE

Father Solanus served for decades as the porter, or doorkeeper, at the Capuchin Monastery on Detroit's East Side.

That's how scores of people came to know him, to be able to tell him their troubles, to ask for his blessing.

Those who knew him are sharing their stories, including Sister Theresa Milne. She grew up near the Capuchin Monastery. Sister Theresa Milne is marking her 70th year as a religious sister with the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

She spoke with Stateside's Cynthia Canty at the IHM Motherhouse in Monroe. There, she shared her memories of Father Solanus.

Milne had the chance to get to know Father Solanus as a child when her grandmother would take her to visit the monastery.

When reminiscing about Father Solanus, Milne said, “I think of his humility first and his wisdom second."

“I remember that he had a long, wispy beard and that he had a kind of a squeaky voice, and that he also played the violin, but it was squeaky,” Milne said.

The violin is still there in the corner of Father Solanus’s room at the friary, and Milne said she doesn’t think many people know that.

Milne also remembers Father Solanus was available at all hours for people.

“The place used to be packed. I can remember that even as a little girl,” she said.

Milne’s older brother lived alongside Father Solanus as a friar and shared stories with her about his life.

“My brother also told me one other thing," Milne said. "He came down early to get everything set for breakfast, and he stopped in the chapel, and Father Solanus was prostrate on the floor in front of the altar. He had been there all night praying.”

“It really is exciting,” Milne said about the upcoming beatification.

Listen above for the full conversation. 

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