Capuchins seek to capture video stories of Fr. Solanus

Detroit — Capuchin Bro. Richard Merling estimates that over his 45 years working with the Fr. Solanus Guild, he’s heard “literally thousands” of stories about Detroit’s beloved friar.

Fr. Solanus Casey, the venerable Capuchin whose cause for beatification continues to be presented in Rome, inspired generations before and after his death in 1957, Bro. Merling said, and stories of favors attributed to his intercession continue to abound today.

“It’s unbelievable how people will come up to you, and so many have a story to tell,” he said.

So it only makes sense to start documenting those stories, as the Capuchin Province of St. Joseph will do July 27, when it is inviting anyone who received a favor through Fr. Solanus’ intercession to St. Bonaventure Monastery in Detroit.

Through video testimonies, the Capuchins hope to capture specifically those stories that are “life-changing” or “health-changing,” though anyone is invited to share their account.

As an example, Bro. Merling said, some have told of being healed of alcohol or other addictions, or of resolutions to family crises between spouses or parents and children.

“They come down and pray to Fr. Solanus, and things just change immediately for them. It’s like an overnight thing,” said Bro. Merling, who since 2012 has served as vice-postulator for Fr. Solanus’ sainthood cause. “It fits so well with the stories we’re told about him when he was alive.’”

Especially because those who knew Fr. Solanus personally are aging, he said, it’s important to record such testimonials now.

While some healings are more dramatic, others can be almost commonplace. Sometimes it’s a family member who received a favor, or even stories of favors passed down through generations, Bro. Merling said. But everyone seems to have one — including himself.

“Back in 1956, shortly before Fr. Solanus died, I had an older brother who was in a serious auto accident and injured his leg to where they were going to amputate it. My mother said, ‘Why don’t we go down and see Fr. Solanus and ask for his prayers?’” Bro. Merling recalled. “So we came down here on Sunday afternoon and were able to meet with him. We told him about my brother right away, and he said, ‘Oh, don’t worry, things will be all right.’ Sure enough, they didn’t have to amputate it, which was a big thing in those days.

“That was his story to so many people, that things would be all right. ‘Have faith in God, and don’t worry.’”