Born November 25, 1870, Venerable Bernard Francis Casey was the first United States-born man formally to be declared “Venerable” by the Roman Catholic church. He is now a candidate for beatification. A Capuchin priest, he was known for his great faith, humility, and role as spiritual counselor and intercessor.
He struggled through seminary, largely because most of his classes were conducted in the German language, which he had not previously studied. On July 24, 1904, at the age of 33, he was ordained to the Roman Catholic priesthood by Archbishop Sebastian Messmer at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Milwaukee. Because he was judged to have performed insufficiently well in his seminary studies, he was ordained a “sacerdos simplex”, a priesthood rank that prevented him from hearing confessions or preaching doctrinal sermons.
After his ordination, he served for 20 years in a succession of assignments in Capuchin friaries in New York, Harlem, and Yonkers. His first assignment was at Sacred Heart Friary, in Yonkers, New York. He was recognized as an inspiring speaker. In 1924, he was transferred to St. Bonaventure Monastery in Detroit, where he worked for a further 21 years. During this time, he served primarily as “porter”, or receptionist and doorkeeper. Every Wednesday afternoon he conducted well-attended services for the sick. He became known for his great compassion and the amazing results of his consultations with visitors. Many people considered him instrumental in cures and other blessings they received.
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