Another beatification cause has apparently dimmed into oblivion.
C’est la vie. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. So everything goes. That holds for canonization causes, too.
They either end in success or fade into nothingness. And while for the latter an imprint may remain, perhaps just a faint one, their dust is blown away by history’s inexorable march, and we forget these heroic men and women.
For instance, this is why you’ve likely never heard of the Servant of God Fr. Magín Catalá, OFM († 1830). A near contemporary of St. Junípero Serra, founder of California’s missions, he spent much of his ecclesiastical career in Mission Santa Clara (with some time also spent at Mission San José).
He was such a holy man. Indeed his cause was introduced before Serra’s. Something happened around the time of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, however. His cause was going well, and then it stopped. Did the earthquake destroy the archival material necessary for continuing his process? Did the death of the archbishop who introduced it result in waning interest? Were there too many other priorities that his beatification got put on the backburner and was lost to memory (how soon we forget?)?
Who can say? It was over a century ago (the last activity was in 1909). What we can say is his cause is dead, and no one but a handful of laypeople (your correspondent included) has any real interest in seeing it resurrected.
The upshot is this: In 1908, Heinrichs was serving at St. Elizabeth Church in Denver. He had agreed to switch Masses with a priest who had an appointment. Neither of them could know the Mass he took was the one at which an immigrant Italian anarchist had chosen to kill a priest, any priest.
This is a clear-cut case—or so it would seem—of a death in odium fidei, that is martyrdom, someone killed “in hatred of the faith.” His murderer’s admitted motivation was loathing of the Catholic Church.
Still nothing is happening with Father’s cause, which was introduced in 1927. Rather nothing has happened since January 1933. Why? It’s been impossible to get … not even a straight answer. A crooked answer would be OK. Instead there is no answer at all (believe me, I’ve tried).
Which brings us to the next process that has evaporated into the ether.
I was looking at making a donation to the cause of a Servant of God in the name of a friend who had done me a kindness but who wouldn’t take any recompense for it.
Eckert was a Capuchin priest who worked at his order’s parishes from Yonkers to Milwaukee. It was in this last place that he was especially remembered as one of the founders of St. Benedict the Moor Church. Here he heroically labored amongst the city’s black underclass. He didn’t ask whether they were Catholic. He simply gave them Jesus’s love.
I’ve known his story for a while, and so I contacted someone in the know about his beatification cause.
This was the response I received:
Thanks for your interest. The cause of Fr. Stephen has not been active for several decades [Note: Since 1985] and there are presently no indications of it being re-activated. He was a great and visionary man, but the Black Catholic community [in Milwaukee] is now much more interested the cause of Fr. Augustus Tolton, who is the first known African-American to be ordained in the United States. As for us Capuchins, the cause of Fr. Solanus Casey has tremendous support and is likely to move to beatification in the near future. You can look up his cause online. He was the receptionist [porter] at our friary in Detroit and was known for his miracles of healing and spiritual knowledge. He has had a profound influence on the Church in Detroit. Presently, there is a Fr. Solanus center attached to St. Bonaventure that gets about 40,000 visitors a year. The archbishop of Detroit has been an active supporter of the cause.
What is interesting about this revelation is the following from a biography of Ven. Solanus:
In late April of 1949, Father Solanus and Fathers Ambrose, Angelus and Herbert from St. Felix set out for Milwaukee by car. They were headed for the unveiling of a statue of a Capuchin, Father Stephen Eckert, who had died there in 1923. Solanus had known him in Yonkers at Sacred Heart, in 1904. He had been so impressed with the holiness of Father Stephen that he worked with others to promote Father Stephen’s cause for beatification.
Given the miracles and fame he achieved even in his lifetime, Ven. Solanus definitely has the better claim to sanctity. And given how expensive beatification and canonization causes can be, I don’t blame the literally poor Capuchins for prioritizing Casey’s cause over that of his confrere. Nonetheless I hope and pray Fr. Eckert’s process gets resurrected someday. He was a remarkable and holy man.
God’s will be done.