Father John’s Message

Fr. John Gerritts  |   

26 July 2020

We celebrate the Feast of Blessed Father Solanus Casey this Thursday, July 30th. Father Solanus was born in 1857 on a farm in the township of Oak Grove, south of Hudson in Pierce County. His family eventually moved to Hudson and later to Burkhardt. While living in Hudson, Father Solanus made his First Holy Communion at Saint Patrick Parish.

In 1887 he left the family farm and worked various jobs – as lumberjack, hospital orderly, prison guard, and streetcar operator. As a prison guard in Stillwater, he befriended a couple of the members of the Jesse James gang. As a streetcar conductor he witnessed a brutal murder that was instrumental to help him act on the call to become a priest. With little formal education – and the fact that he was sent to the seminary in Milwaukee where classes were all taught in German or Latin – Solanus was advised to join a religious order.

Praying before a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, he heard a call to go to Detroit. There he joined the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin. Following his ordination as priest on July 24, 1902, and given the religious name Solanus, he served in New York City, Harlem, Detroit, and Huntington, Indiana. He is most remembered for the work he did in Detroit, where he also died and is buried. Many miraculous healings are attributed to his prayers and intercessions, both when he was alive and since his death. He was proclaimed “Blessed” at a Mass celebrated in Detroit before a crowd of almost 60,000 on November 18, 2017 (I was there, along with a busload of fellow St. Pat’s parishioners!). Now he is just one step away from being declared a Saint by the Church. Blessed Father Solanus: we beg you to intercede for God’s healing grace for all who suffer illness of body, mind, or spirit. We especially ask for your prayers to help bring an end to the coronavirus. Blessed Father Solanus, pray for us.

As we remember one priest on his feast day, we welcome another priest into our Diocese! Last Sunday Father Joseph Stefancin was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Superior. Father Joseph completed his studies at Saint Francis de Sales Seminary in Milwaukee, the same seminary where Blessed Father Solanus first studied. I feel quite confident in saying that Father Joseph is pleased they no longer teach classes in German and Latin, but now teach in English! Father Joseph has been assigned as the Parochial Vicar (associate pastor) for the Parishes of Saint Bridget in River Falls and Saint Mary’s Immaculate Conception in Hammond. He will also assist with the Newman Center in River Falls. Let us pray for Father Joseph as he begins his ministry and service as a priest of our Diocese. We also look forward to getting to know Father Joseph, as I am sure we will have some occasions to invite him to Saint Patrick Parish.

Finally, if you are out for a ride, go past our school and check out the new flagpole we have in place. Eli Ramthun undertook this Eagle Scout project after noticing the old flagpole was rusted, and oversaw its removal and installation of the new one. Thank you Eli!! We also recently added a flagpole to our cemetery grounds – stop by and take a look at that too.