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Celebrating 20 Years of Solanus Casey

The Solanus Casey Center marks a milestone and opens new and expanded facilities.
Archbishop Vigneron swings a censer before a group of attendees.
The Most Reverend Allen H. Vigneron, Archbishop of Detroit, blesses the atrium and reception desk at the Solanus Casey Center on December 3, 2022. The date marks the 20th anniversary of the dedication of the center by His Eminence Adam Cardinal Maida.

In 2022, the Solanus Casey Center in Detroit marked the 20th anniversary of its original grand opening on December 3, 2002. Dedicated to Blessed Solanus Casey, who served as the humble doorkeeper of St. Bonaventure, ours is a ministry of welcome, hope and healing.

In recent years, the Center has been transformed and expanded to accommodate ever-growing numbers of visitors and pilgrims seeking peace, prayer and healing. Today, the Solanus Casey Center welcomes an average of 10,000 visitors per month from near and far, approaching our pre-pandemic visitor volumes.

A group processes through the Solanus Casey Center.
Friars and lay Catholics process through the Hall of Saints at the Solanus Casey Center during the December 2022 blessing and rededication of the Center.

As we prayerfully await the next steps on the road to sainthood, we are working hard to enhance hospitality at the Solanus Casey Center. For example, we now offer adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and benediction on First Fridays. The sacrament of reconciliation is more readily available throughout the day rather than on the hour.

In addition, we have ramped up the friar presence at the Center. This past summer, we opened an expanded gift shop offering a wider assortment of books, films, and other devotional items relating to Blessed Solanus Casey, Franciscan spirituality and the Catholic faith. It is also possible to extend one’s visit with a stop at our newly-opened On the Rise Café, a program of our sister ministry, the Capuchin Soup Kitchen. On the Rise Café offers sandwiches, soups, coffee and beverages, bread and baked goods. We have redesigned our reception area. We have relocated and expanded our confessional capacity to accommodate more penitents. Thanks to a collaboration with Catholic Charities of Southeast Michigan, we now have two licensed counselors on site to counsel guests in times of grief, difficulty or other needs. These exciting changes make the Solanus Casey Center more welcoming to guests.

Archbishop offers a blessing in the new café.
Archbishop Vigneron recites a prayer at the new On the Rise Café inside a new addition of the Solanus Casey Center that opened earlier in 2022.

As of this writing, we are just a few weeks from finishing our new east entrance and votive chapel, and we are looking forward to beginning the next phase of the Solanus Casey Center expansion. This second phase includes stations of the cross, outdoor seating for the café and a rosary garden. In addition, we anticipate an eventual third phase incorporating an outdoor assembly area. We can't wait to introduce our visitors new and old to all of these amenities as we continue to serve.

Archbishop Vigneron blesses, rededicates the Center

To mark the Center’s platinum anniversary, the Most Rev. Allen H. Vigneron, Archbishop of Detroit, rededicated the Center on December 3, 2022. Friars, dignitaries, invited guests and the public were invited to attend the liturgy of blessing and re-dedication. The Archbishop blessed the new building housing the gift shop and café, as well as the new reconciliation chapel, reception desk, offices and gardens. These renovations have been made possible through a generous gift from the A.A. Van Elslander Foundation.

Archbishop blesses the new gift shop.
The Archbishop blesses the newly-expanded Solanus Casey Center Gift Shop.

This year also marks 140 years of Capuchin ministry in Detroit

The year 2022 also marks the 140th anniversary of the arrival of a permanent Capuchin presence and ministry in Detroit. Brothers Bonaventure Frey and Francis Haas arrived in Detroit in 1882. The Bishop of Detroit granted land on the rural eastern outskirts of the city to begin construction of St. Bonaventure Monastery across the street from Mount Elliott Cemetery. All of our Capuchin Ministries in Michigan, including the Solanus Casey Center, Capuchin Soup Kitchen and Capuchin Retreat, stem from these humble beginnings 140 years ago. The area, then known as Russell’s Grove and today known as Islandview, has changed dramatically since the first Capuchin friars laid eyes on it. Unchanged, however, is the Capuchin committment to living out the Gospel of Jesus, as exemplified by St. Francis of Assisi and his followers.