Saint Bonaventure Monastery
Location Name: Saint Bonaventure Monastery (Detroit, Michigan)
Location Type: Monastery (Catholic)
Year Completed: 1883
Architect(s): Peter Dederichs
Saint Bonaventure Monastery was established by the Capuchins in 1882 to minister to the needs of the area’s Catholic clergy and churches. They set up a temporary home in Mount Elliott Cemetery (located across Mount Elliott Avenue from the current structure) while their permanent home was constructed. Architect Peter Dederichs was chosen to design the Gothic Revival chapel, built in red brick with Trenton limestone trim. In 1883 the structure was complete. In Detroit, the Capuchins are most noted for their relief work to help those in need, and the life and work of Venerable Father Solanus Casey.
The Capuchins found that their services were needed in ever increasing demand during the devastating effects of the Great Depression in the 1930s. In 1931 the Capuchins at Saint Bonaventure extended their ministry to include emergency relief activities. Their soup kitchen, still in operation today, fed as many as 3,500 free meals a day during the height of the economic chaos of the 1930s. Despite its well-deserved role of helping those most in need, a visit to the monastery today focuses on another story, that of their own Father Casey.
Father Casey came to Saint Bonaventure in 1924 and served there until 1946. A Capuchin friar whose assignment was that of a porter, Father Casey was devoted to his faith and his community until his death in 1957. Many people claimed astonishing healings as a result of his prayers, and after his death, continued claims of healing through his intercession have launched the cause for his sainthood. In 1995, Pope John Paul II declared Father Casey worthy of veneration. If officially canonized by the Church, he would become the first American-born male to be recognized as a saint.
As part of Saint Bonaventure’s effort to serve the memory of Father Casey, the Solanus Center opened adjacent to the chapel in 2002. The center strives to be a place of pilgrimage, healing, reconciliation and peace. Visitors can learn of the life and legend of Father Casey as well as visit his tomb. While the case for his beatification is still being considered, the story of Detroit’s own Father Casey continues to draw people from around the world to Saint Bonaventure.
Saint Bonaventure Monastery was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.Sources