Detroit Priest Becomes 2nd US-Born Man on Path to Sainthood

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REUTERS/Joshua LottThe Detroit skyline is seen from the north side of the city in Detroit, Michigan, December 3, 2013

A Catholic priest from Detroit, Michigan, Father Solanus Casey, is one step closer to becoming a possible Catholic saint after a beatification mass was held in the city on Saturday, 60 years after his death. Not allowed to preach, the priest served the needy and was recognized for his humility that brought people to God.

The beatification ceremony for Fr. Casey, the second U.S.-born man to be beatified by the Roman Catholic Church, was held Saturday afternoon at Detroit's Ford Field, where he spent much of his ministry. More than 60,000 people attended the ceremony.

"It's a great event. It's hard to communicate how vivid and real the presence of Father is to our community," Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron said, according to The Associated Press, which further quoted the archbishop as saying that even six decades after Fr. Casey's death, "people don't say, 'I'm going to Father's tomb,' … They say, 'I'm going to talk to Father.'"

Pope Francis has said Casey met the requirements to earn the title of "blessed," especially after a woman from Panama was instantly cured of a chronic skin disease while she prayed at his tomb in 2012.

In 1995, Casey was declared "Venerable," and he can possibly be made a saint in the future if a second miracle is attributed to him.

The mass on Saturday was held in English, Tagalog, Spanish, Chaldean and Vietnamese, reflecting the multicultural makeup of the Archdiocese of Detroit, which has about 1.3 million Catholics.

"I've been waiting for this day for 14 years," Lily Flask of Livonia, who believes her husband's heart problems were healed in 2003 due to Casey's intercession. "I prayed every day to him. ... I had to be here today," she said, according to Detroit Free Press.

Fr. Casey was a native of Oak Grove, Wisconsin, and joined the Capuchin religious order in Detroit in 1897. He was ordained a priest 1904. However, due to academic struggles, he was not allowed to give homilies at mass and couldn't hear confessions.

Julia Greeley, a former slave born in Hannibal, Missouri, who lost her right eye to the whip of a slave master as he beat her mother, is also being considered for sainthood in the Catholic Church for her inspirational life of devotion and service.

Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila of Denver, Colorado, opened Greeley's cause for canonization in December 2016 at a Sunday mass at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.

Greeley was born between 1835 and 1855, and was emancipated from slavery in 1863, two years before slavery was officially abolished.

"Her charity was as delicate as it was great. She realized that white people, no matter how poor, might feel a little sensitive in receiving assistance from an old colored woman, so she went at night to their homes to deliver the goods she had begged, in order to keep the neighbors from seeing her," according to the Julia Greeley Guild.