Michael Wojcik 2017-12-06 23:11:04
PEQUANNOCK The beatification of Blessed Father Solanus Casey on Nov. 18 became a joyful celebration for 18 members of the Murphy family, including faithful of Holy Spirit Parish here, who joined more than 60,000 Catholics for the historic Mass for the beloved priest — whom Pope Francis called “a humble and faithful disciple of Christ, tireless in serving the poor” — in Ford Field in Detroit. During the liturgy, the Murphy clan from New Jersey and Ireland watched with great excitement as Father Casey — a third cousin to the local family’s oldest generation — moved a step closer to sainthood. The contingent of Murphys, who attended the beatification Mass, included three brothers — Robert, 86, Frank, 83 and Jim, 81. They got the opportunity to represent the family from New Jersey and meet more than 350 cousins from the U.S. and Ireland, who also traveled to the “Motor City” for the special liturgy. The beatification was made even more joyous, as the three brothers remembered the somewhat startling prediction that their father, Michael, made, when they were young: “Someday, your cousin will become a saint.” On May 4, Pope Francis named Capuchin Father Casey “blessed,” giving them some hope that he will be canonized a saint in their lifetime. “The Mass was wonderful. Father Solanus was a simple, humble man. People talked to him about their problems — one of his best features. The Mass was a big tribute to him,” Jim Murphy, a former Holy Spirit parishioner, who now lives in Toms River, said about his cousin, who died on July 31, 1957 at 86. He traces Father Casey, born with the first name “Bernard,” back as the grandson of his grandfather’s sister, Margaret Sheils Murphy. “We also got to meet many cousins, including some who knew Father Solanus,” he said. During the Mass, Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation of the Causes of Saints, the liturgy’s main celebrant and homilist, read a letter from Pope Francis in Latin that officially declared Father Casey “blessed.” The Mass included participation from many cardinals, including Cardinal Joseph Tobin, archbishop of the Newark Archdiocese; 240 Capuchin friars; a large congregation that included many poor people; and Paula Medina Zarate, a Panamanian, whose cure from an illness in 2012 was credited to Father Casey’s intercession — a requirement for being declared “venerable.” “Pope Francis points him out to the whole Church, as a faithful disciple to Christ, the Good Shepherd. Today the Church and society still need the example and the protection of Father Solanus,” Cardinal Amato said in his homily. He told a story of the beloved priest praying the “Our Father,” after the Capuchin Soup Kitchen in Detroit (which he co-founded) ran out of food, leaving hundreds of people hungry. Soon, a baker came to the pantry door, carrying bread and other supplies. “When the people saw this, they began to cry with emotion. Father Solanus simply stated, ‘see? God provides. No one will suffer, if we put our trust in divine providence,’ ” the cardinal said. Treated as VIPs, the Murphys sat with their many relatives in seats on the floor level of Ford Field, home of the Detroit Lions, at the front of the altar. The New Jersey group also included three sons of Robert Murphy, a Holy Spirit parishioner, who is retired from the Post Office; a daughter and son-in-law of Frank Murphy, also a Holy Spirit parishioner, also retired from the Post Office; Jim’s son; and other family members. During the visit, the Murphys had opportunities to share meals with and talk to their cousins, they said. “The Mass was great. There was a relic of Father Solanus — a piece of a bone — on the altar and they unveiled an image of him, which was beautiful to see,” said Frank Murphy, a married father of four, grandfather of seven and great-grandfather of one, who carries prayer cards and badges of Father Casey everywhere he goes. “It was such a blessing to be part of representing Father Solanus’ family.” For years, members of the Murphy family, which originally included nine brothers, have supported the Father Solanus Guild in Detroit, where the humble, diminutive clergyman last served and died. The guild keeps Father Casey’s inspiring memory alive by educating the public about his life and work, by providing prayers and support and by working hard on his cause for sainthood, said Jim Murphy, a widower and a retired Pequannock police officer. Over the years, Murphy family members have visited the guild headquarters and have kept tabs on Father Casey’s canonization cause. In July, several of them attended a Mass at St. John the Baptist Church, New York City, to mark Father Casey’s death. In 1924, Father Casey returned to Detroit, where he studied for the priesthood. He stayed at St. Bonaventure Seminary for 21 years as doorkeeper. He was ordained without faculties to celebrate Mass because the Capuchins didn’t think he had the mental capacity. But during those years, he packed notebooks with more than 6,000 requests for aid. Hundreds of petitioners reported successes, according to previous reports. “Father Solanus loved and related to the poor and the sick. He would meet with people until all hours of the night — people, who would tell him their hard luck stories. Today, Father Solanus continues to help people who pray to him. We hear the stories all the time. If a man loses his job and prays to him, he finds a job. I believe those stories,” Frank Murphy told The Beacon in 2007, when Father Casey was declared “venerable.” “I talk to Father Solanus every day. I believe he’s a saint,” he said. Now, the Murphys wait for the Vatican to approve another miracle attributed to Father Casey, which would make him eligible for sainthood. “Maybe it will happen in my lifetime. If so, I will definitely travel to Rome — or back to Detroit — for the canonization,” Jim Murphy said.
Published by The Beacon. View All Articles.