Next weekend, I will be returning to the Midwest to take part in a play on the life of Father Solanus Casey, a Capuchin priest from Prescott, Wisconsin. The play was written in 2001 by Molly Delaney Druffner, an actress and writer from Hudson, Wisconsin.
Just 6 weeks before the play was to be performed, they still were looking for someone to play Solanus as a young man. A friend of mine who knew Molly Druffner suggested me: “He’s a former seminarian and a lay Franciscan; why don’t you ask him?” So I showed up at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, where Fr. Casey was baptized and where the play was to be performed. Molly introduced herself, then handed me a script and a schedule. No questions and no audition. And the rest is history. I had never acted before, but it was fun and also a great introduction to the life of this holy man.
This will be the fourth year the play has been produced: after the first year in Hudson, we took the play to River Falls in 2002 and Stillwater in 2003. In July of this year, we will perform the play in Detroit, Michigan, where Fr. Solanus spent most of his priesthood as a doorkeeper.
Molly Druffner also directs the play, which takes both talent and patience, as half of the cast of 20 is under the age of 12. Most of the time I am backstage trying to keep the kids quiet with their Game Boys and books…
More details about the play (from a 2001 article) can be found here. Please pray for the cast & crew, that this production might be a worthy witness to the holy life of this humble priest.
Saturday, March 20, 7:30 p.m.
and Sunday, March 21, 2:00 p.m.
St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, 1500 Vine Street in Hudson, Wisconsin
Cost: $5 in advance or $6 at the door
Solanus, a drama about the life and times of Father Solanus Casey by Hudson playwright and actress Molly Delaney Druffner, is back for yet another engagement. The life of this saintly man is vividly portrayed with reminiscences from an elderly Casey, vignettes from his life, and song. Great for all ages.
Declared Venerable by Pope John Paul II in 1995, Casey was born near Prescott, Wis. in 1870 and worked as a young man in Stillwater, Minn. He entered the novitiate of the Capuchin Franciscans in Detroit when he was twenty-six years old. Since he was not considered very bright by his superiors, after his ordination he was allowed to say Mass but not to preach or hear confessions, and he was assigned duties as a doorkeeper. Yet it was from his humble acceptance of his lot in life that Father Solanus was able to help thousands physically, emotionally, and spiritually. People flocked to him looking for cures for cancer, heart disease, tuberculosis; seeking help for broken marriages, broken hearts, and broken lives, and wanting to find spiritual health and renewal. To each person, Father Solanus brought an aura of God’s goodness and grace. He died in 1957, in Detroit; the final words on his lips were said to be, ‘I give my soul to Jesus Christ.’ In showing others that a life-giving faith and a love of God can be both powerful and simple, Father Solanus is a source of encouragement and a model of virtue for the modern world. Father Solanus was also a mentor to Father Benedict Groeschel, who has testified in his cause for Beatification.