DETROIT — A businessman is donating $20 million to help expand a Catholic pilgrimage site in Detroit.
Art Van Elslander, founder of Art Van Furniture, is donating to the Solanus Casey Center, Crain’s Detroit Business reported. Interest in the center has increased since November when the late Father Solanus Casey was beatified and put on the path to sainthood.
The center hopes to use the money to acquire city-owned property to create more parking space for the center, said Father David Preuss, the center’s director. The center is in negotiations for about 75 city-owned and privately owned properties. Officials also hope to build a cafe with outdoor seating, open green spaces for large gatherings, gardens, an outdoor votive chapel and housing for visitors of the center.
Van Elslander said the donation pays homage to his father’s friendship with Casey.
“Growing up in Detroit, I remember my dad going to see Father Solanus when he needed help and guidance,” Van Elslander said. “Father Solanus still offers that hope to so many through the work of the Center and the Capuchin Soup Kitchen, and I am privileged to honor his legacy in a way that will benefit the entire community.”
Casey died in 1957 and is credited with miraculously curing a woman with chronic skin disease after she prayed at his tomb in 2012. He’s only the second U.S.-born man to be beatified by the church, joining Father Stanley Rother, a priest killed in Guatemala’s civil war. One U.S.-born woman has been beatified and two others have been declared saints.