Franciscan

Solanus Casey's prayers for Fr. Maynard's ill brother

Thousands who received comfort and counsel from Fr. Solanus Casey, OFM Cap, were convinced that this humble Franciscan was an instrument of God. Among them are a number of friars from St. John the Baptist Province. Most were children in Detroit when Solanus, besieged by seekers at St. Bonaventure Monastery, gave their loved ones help and hope. Asked to recall the encounters, they described the impact this remarkable man had on their lives.

Fr. Maynard Tetreault, OFM

In 1943 when my brother was about 13 years old, he had a terrible case of tetanus he got from cutting his knee on a rusty knife. In those days we didn’t bother with tetanus shots or anything. He was deathly ill. I was 9, and I remember the principal of Visitation School went on the public address system and told everybody that Jimmy Tetreault was very sick and might be dying and that we should pray for him.

He was very weak; he was seeing double. He lost his appetite and had spasms. My mother made a chocolate cake that was his favorite and he wouldn’t touch it. The doctor said, "He either has spinal meningitis or lockjaw." Of course, spinal meningitis is very contagious. They sent him to Herman Kiefer Hospital, a public health hospital for infectious diseases. In the hospital they decided it was tetanus. The priest came in and heard Jimmy’s confession and gave him the sacrament of the sick.

My mother was a member of the Third Order with the Capuchins at St. Bonaventure. That’s how she knew about Fr. Solanus. She and Dad and I took a streetcar and a bus to go and ask for his prayers. I remember we waited a while to see him; there was always a long line. My mother said, "Fr. Solanus, my son has lockjaw." Solanus had a great affection for children. He said, "I will pray for him, but you have to pray, too." When we left we were not greatly encouraged.

Weeks later, Jimmy was better. He got over it. It might have been a month that he was back in school. Now my brother is 87, a retired professor of literature who had a wonderful career at New York U and Columbia.

We didn’t say it was a miracle, and we never got around to proving it. I’m sure Fr. Solanus’ prayers helped a lot. He was a very humble guy. He would always tell people, "My prayers are no better than yours."

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