Casey was born in Los Angeles, California to immigrants from Dublin. His father left Ireland as a thirteen-year-old stowaway on an American-bound freighter. After being caught, he was put to work shoveling coal. Custom officials interned him on Ellis Island until Catholic nuns arranged a home for him with a family in New Jersey. Kind acts like this by Catholic clergy would inspire Casey to join the priesthood.
Casey’s parents met and married in New Jersey and then moved to Los Angeles where they eventually owned a group of flower and gift shops and ran a catering business. Casey and his siblings helped out in the family businesses.
During his childhood, Casey enjoyed the company of the priests and sisters that came to the family home for dinner. To repay the Daughters of Mary and Joseph who taught her children, Casey’s mother organized a drive to collect the box loads of S&H green stamps needed to buy them a new Chrysler station wagon. At the time supermarkets gave out the stamps as a reward for shopping in their stores. When his mother was very ill a priest showed her great kindness and care. So, when a recruiting priest visited his eighth grade classroom, Casey seriously considered joining the priesthood. But it would be many years before he took that step on his faith journey.
After graduating from St. Anthony’s High School in 1964, he enrolled as a freshman at UCLA with plans to be a doctor. A year later he received his draft notice