MILWAUKEE — St. Francis Church, 1927 N. Fourth St., will host a healing service on first Fridays of the month, beginning Friday, March 7 at 2 p.m.Capuchin Fr. Solanus Casey is pictured in an undated file photo. Admirers of Fr. Casey, a doorkeeper at Franciscan houses in New York and Detroit, are hoping for his beatification. In 1995 he was declared venerable, one of the first steps toward canonization. (CNS photo)

The service for those who seek physical, spiritual and personal healing, modeled after the healing service offered by Wisconsin native Venerable Capuchin Fr. Solanus Casey, will include Scripture, music, prayers of thanksgiving, intercessions, a blessing with a relic of the True Cross, Communion, confession at 1:30 p.m., and the Sacrament of the Sick for those who wish to receive it after the service. 

Capuchin Fr. Michael Bertram, pastor of St. Francis, where Fr. Casey lived, told the Catholic Herald the initiative to offer healing services has been two or three years in the making and is something he hopes will be as popular as the weekly services offered by Capuchin friars in Detroit that draw standing-room-only crowds.

“It’s just because of the nature of suffering and sickness, and partly because of the connection with Fr. Solanus, we thought, well, why don’t we do something here? I mean he lived here, we’ve got a tradition of his life, why don’t we begin imitating some of the ministry that he initiated there in Detroit, and that continues to address a deep-felt need in people in that area,” Fr. Bertram said of Fr. Casey, whose cause for canonization continues in Rome – he would be the first native-born male saint for the U.S. if canonized. “I can’t think that we’re that unusual that we don’t have the same need and the same experience in our lives.”

Capuchin Frs. Marty Pable and Steve Kropp will help Fr. Bertram with the service, which involves administration of a blessing with a relic of the True Cross, something Fr. Casey offered.

“The heart of the service seems to be the blessing with the relic of the True Cross,” Fr. Bertram said, explaining they have three – one that was at St. Francis, and two from retreat centers in Appleton and Marathon. “And again, it’s a nice connection, I think, with our suffering and the suffering that Jesus made for us; if we are suffering, we are only brought into closer union with Christ because of his sufferings, too.”

St. Francis parishioners told Fr. Bertram the services are not only something they want, but something they want to share with people throughout the archdiocese, he said.

J.J. Jasperson, who provides music for the parish’s Sunday night Mass, agreed to provide music during the service, and eight to 10 people have offered to help as greeters, to hand out programs, and to set up the coffee and light refreshments.

“We really hope that it’s going to help people in their suffering, when maybe they are suffering something that offers no hope, be it the prayer, be it the support of others who are ill,” Fr. Bertram said. “We just really hope that it’s going to be a support for those who are sick.”

In the future, Fr. Bertram would like to offer services in Spanish, or ones that are bilingual, enlisting the help of Spanish-speaking priests.