Author Father Groeschel visits his Franciscan roots
By Joyce Duriga
Our Sunday Visitor
On a chilly winter day blanketed in snow, a 72-year-old Franciscan friar made the journey from New York City to the small town of Huntington, Ind., to visit the friary where his journey with the Capuchins began.
Father Benedict Groeschel, co-founder of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, visited the former St. Felix Friary, now home to Good Shepherd Church of the United Brethren in Christ, as a side trip to a visit to Our Sunday Visitor last month.
The friary visit was a walk down memory lane for Father Groeschel, who came to the friary in 1951 at age 17.
For those accompanying Father Groeschel, it was a glimpse into the life and spirituality of Father Solanus Casey, the well-known Capuchin mystic who lived at the friary while Father Groeschel was a novice. Father Groeschel spent nine months at St. Felix and completed his novitiate at the orders' friary in Detroit.
Memories of Solanus
Memories and stories of Father Solanus Casey filled Father Groeschel's visit. The priest entered the old friary through the former St. Felix Church and remembered serving Mass for Father Casey there.
Father Groeschel stood in the spot where the ambo used to be -- the church is now cleared of the altar, ambo and the pews -- and recalled a ferverino, or instruction, that Father Casey gave one day. Father Casey did not have the faculties to preach, so he was only permitted to give short instructions during Mass.
"I remember him saying 'If we want to rise with Christ we must be ready to die with Christ.' And everybody in the whole church was crying," he said.
Father Groeschel walked from the church through the first floor halls accented with Latin sayings painted on the walls -- such as Deus Meus et Omnia, the motto of the Franciscan order that translates to "My God and My All."
Calming the bees On the friary's first floor is the former novice recreation room. While peering out a window in this large room, Father Groeschel explained how the land surrounding the friary had a working farm with animals and crops. The novices joined the friars and brothers in working on the farm after their morning classes.
The farm also consisted of a 30-acre apple orchard and a group of beehives whose inhabitants pollinated the trees. The beehives were the topic of another memorable Father Casey story.
One day, Father Groeschel, then a Capuchin brother, was out in the orchards with the novice master and noticed the bees swarming. Father Groeschel was told to go and get Father Casey, who regularly cared for the bees.
Once the friar arrived, he headed straight into the swarm of bees without the normal protective hats and nets that every other person donned before any work with the bees.
"He started to talk to the bees. 'All right now. Calm down. All right,'" Father Groeschel recalled the friar saying. "And they started to calm down and go back into the hive.... I was absolutely in total shock," Father Groeschel said.
Once the bees returned to the hive, Father Casey took out his harmonica and began to play for them.
A man in ecstasy
Inside the friars' chapel on the second floor of the building, Father Groeschel recounted a story of finding Father Casey in the chapel very late one night.
Father Groeschel said he was passing the chapel and thought he heard something inside. He turned on the light and there was Father Casey on his knees in front of the altar. The friar was in ecstasy -- a state of deep prayer and communion with God where the person can be impervious to sound, light or movement.
"It was the only time in my life that I've seen anyone in ecstasy," Father Groeschel said.
"He had no idea that the lights were on. And he didn't move. His arms were extended. And it was late at night. And he did not know I was there. I put the lights out and I watched him. It's 55 years, and I still get goose bumps when I talk of it," Father Groeschel said.
It was inside this chapel that Father Groeschel shared some stories of God healing people through Father Casey. One in particular involved a Jewish boy who was afflicted with a life-threatening condition. His mother brought him to the Huntington friary after hearing of the friar's healing power.
"When Father Solanus cured somebody he didn't do it immediately," Father Groeschel explained.
"He said, 'When you go home, I'll offer the Mass for him tomorrow and he'll be all right.'" And the boy was. Several weeks later, the boy walked into the friars' chapel, fully recovered.
"I remember seeing him," Father Groeschel said.
Living with a saint
Those who knew Father Casey and those who experienced the power of God through him said he possessed many spiritual gifts, including healing and the ability to see the future.
Why does God give some people these gifts?
"Because of their simplicity," Father Groeschel explained. "This man was absolutely simple. He had practically no ego.... I knew Mother Teresa and I knew Father Solanus, and I would be very hard pressed to say who was more saintly."
- - -
Joyce Duriga is the associate editor of Our Sunday Visitor (www.osv.com), a Catholic Online Preferred Publishing Partner.
Our Sunday Visitor (www.osv.com)
http://www.osv.com IN, US
Joyce Duriga - associate editor, 260 356-8400
Clergy, religious life
More Catholic PRWire
Showing 1 - 50 of 4,718
A Recession Antidote
Monaco & The Vatican: Monaco's Grace Kelly Exhibit to Rome--A Review of Monegasque-Holy See Diplomatic History
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.
A Royal Betrayal: Catholic Monaco Liberalizes Abortion
Dna. Maria St.Catherine De Grace Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.
Embrace every moment as sacred time
Mary Regina Morrell
Letting go is simple wisdom with divine potential
Mary Regina Morrell
Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
Pope's Words to Pontifical Latin American College
Prelate: Genetics Needs a Conscience
State Aid for Catholic Schools: Help or Hindrance?
Scorsese Planning Movie on Japanese Martyrs
2 Nuns Kidnapped in Kenya Set Free
Holy See-Israel Negotiation Moves Forward
Franchising to Evangelize
Catholics Decry Anti-Christianity in Israel
Pope and Gordon Brown Meet About Development Aid
Pontiff Backs Latin America's Continental Mission
Cardinal Warns Against Anti-Catholic Education
Three words to a deeper faith
Relections for Lent 2009
Wisdom lies beyond the surface of life
Mary Regina Morrell
World Food Program Director on Lent
Pope's Lenten Message for 2009
Keeping a Lid on Permissiveness
Glimpse of Me
The 3 stages of life
Sex and the Married Woman
A Catholic Woman Returns to the Church
Modernity & Morality
Just a Minute
Catholic identity ... triumphant reemergence!
Edging God Out
Burying a St. Joseph Statue
George Bush Speaks on Papal Visit
Sometimes moving forward means moving the canoe
Mary Regina Morrell
Easter... A Way of Life
Papal initiative...peace and harmony!
Proclaim the mysteries of the Resurrection!
Jerusalem Patriarch's Easter Message
Good Friday Sermon of Father Cantalamessa
Papal Address at the End of the Way of the Cross
Cardinal Zen's Meditations for Via Crucis
Interview With Vatican Aide on Jewish-Catholic Relations
Pope Benedict XVI On the Easter Triduum
by Catholic Online
- Daily Reading for Friday, July 28th, 2017 HD Video
- A new coalition for Christian orthodoxy
- What happens when you die? Scientists are putting the puzzle together
- Tough times for many family farmers and farmworkers
- Daily Readings for Thursday, July 27, 2017
- Daily Reading for Saturday, July 29th, 2017 HD Video
- St. Pantaleon: Saint of the Day for Thursday, July 27, 2017
- Archaeologists discover Tabernacle that held the Ark HD
- Shut off? What happened to the Vatican water supply! HD
- Daily Reading for Thursday, July 27th, 2017 HD
- Pope Francis is set for something big, but what is it? HD