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Blessed Solanus Casey Essay Prizes

Black-and-white photograph of Blessed Solanus Casey seated at a desk writing in a notebook.

The Man

Bernard Casey (1870-1957) was the son of Irish immigrants who experienced a vocational conversion after witnessing an act of violence. After failing out of diocesan seminary, he entered the Capuchins in 1897 where he took the name Francis Solanus. His continuing struggles with studies ultimately led to his ordination as a simplex priest in 1904: deprived of faculties to preach publicly, hear confessions, preside at weddings, or anoint the dying. Instead he was appointed to more menial tasks such as sacristan, director of altar boys, and eventually the monastery porter responsible for answering the door. Soon Fr. Solanus became the reason why people came to the door. His renown as a gentle guide and healer spread widely. When he died in 1957, over 20,000 people paid their respects with a legacy of literally thousands of reports of healings and favors received through him. Named “Servant of God” in 1982 and “Venerable” in 1995, he was declared blessed in 2017: the first U.S. born male to have a miracle officially recognized by Rome. His beautification in Detroit drew over 70,000 faithful and an online global audience estimated at over 250 million. The Solanus Center in Detroit, where he is entombed, regularly draws over 100,000 pilgrims annually.

The Purpose of the Prizes

These essay prizes are part of a larger effort to stimulate fresh interest in and study of this unique “American Blessed.” The target audience for the prizes are students (undergraduate and graduate) and younger scholars (under 40).

The Prize divisions and awards:

  • Undergraduate students in any accredited U.S. college or university – award $750.
  • Graduate students in any accredited U.S. college or university – award $1,500.
  • Younger scholars (under 40), who are U.S. residents or citizens – award $2,500.

Criteria for evaluating submissions

  • Length: The length should be between 2000 and 6000 words (including footnotes).
  • Abstract: An abstract (100-150 words) should accompany the submission.
  • Previously unpublished: only unpublished submissions will be accepted.
  • Innovative: The essay is expected to break new ground and not simply repeat established information.
  • Grounded in the primary sources and conversant with important secondary sources: All of the writings of Solanus plus an extensive index of those writings and a working bibliography on him are available on-line (Solanuscasey.org). These should be a key source for the essays.
  • Crafted with clarity of expression and pastoral accessibility: While demonstrating competent scholarship, the essays should be accessible to a wide readership (Michael Crosby’s Thank God Ahead of Time [Chicago: Franciscan Herald Press, 1985] is a model here).
  • Relevant to the current situation: Essays should demonstrate the contemporary significance of some or multiple aspects of Solanus Casey to U.S. society and/or Christianity in the U.S..

Submission requirements

Composition of the Jury

  • The chair: The jury is chaired by the current vice-postulator for the Cause of Blessed Solanus, (Prof.) Edward Foley, Capuchin
  • The reviewers: the remainder of the jury includes women and men, lay and ordained and religious, who are steeped in the Solanus legacy and understand his pastoral relevance.

Award Announcements and publication:

  • Timing: The awards will be announced by 15 March 2025.
  • Copyright: The authors retain copyright to their work, but by submitting their essay give permission for their essay to be eventually posted or linked with other research on the website solanuscasey.org.
  • Publication: The authors will be encouraged and assisted in publishing their work in other venues. As noted above, it is understood that such publication processes should include a provision for the work to be linked to solanuscasey.org. It is also possible that winning and other quality essays could be published as chapters in a book on Solanus. This would be a post-prize negotiation with each author.

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