Fr. Michael McGivney Will Be Remembered
on Wednesday, August 12
Venerable Michael J. McGivney laid the groundwork for what is now the largest Catholic fraternal service organization in the world. He has inspired generations of Catholic men to roll up their sleeves and put their faith into action. Today his spirit continues to shape the extraordinary charitable work of Knights as they serve their parishes and those on the margins of society as he served widows and orphans in the 1880s.
Today, there are more than two million members of the Knights of Columbus in some 15,000 councils located in more than a dozen countries around the world. In 2019, these Knights together donated $187 million to charity and provided 77 million hours of volunteer work. Over the past decade, the Order has donated more than $1.6 billion to worthy causes.
Born August 12, 1852, in Waterbury, Connecticut, of Irish immigrant parents, he was the eldest of 13 children, six of whom died at an early age. After finishing elementary school, he joined his father in a brass mill for three years to help with the family’s financial needs. A local priest was instrumental in enrolling him in a seminary when he was 16. However, his schooling was cut short in 1873 when his father died. This event introduced him to the effect the loss of a breadwinner can have on a family. After resuming his studies, he completed seminary and was ordained in Baltimore on December 22, 1877. His first assignment was to St. Mary’s Church in New Haven, Connecticut.
While at St. Mary’s Fr. McGivney witnessed the anti-Catholic sentiment the Irish-American immigrant community was experiencing. He worked tirelessly to keep his flock close to the faith by finding practical solutions to their many problems … both spiritual and temporal. In 1882 along with a group of leading Catholic men, he helped found a mutual aid society to provide financial resources for families that had suffered the loss of a breadwinner — the Knights of Columbus. Immediately after the Order’s March 29 incorporation, Father McGivney along with the organization’s lay officers initiated a diocesan-wide appeal for new members and Councils. In 1884 he received a new parish assignment at St Thomas in Thomaston, Connecticut. The Knights’ concept of servicing the spiritual and corporate needs of a parish was well received. By 1886, 38 Councils had been formed in the area. While providing spiritual leadership to the organization as it’s Chaplain, Father McGivney continued his primary ministry as pastor to his parish. During the 1889-1890 world-wide Flu pandemic, which killed over 1 million people, he contracted pneumonia and died on August 14, 1890 — two days after his 38th birthday.
Known for his devotion to the faith and embodiment of the characteristics of the “Good Samaritan,” The Archdiocese of Hartford opened a cause for his sainthood in 1997. The diocesan investigation was closed in 2000 and the case passed on to Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Vatican City.
In March 2003, St. Pope John Paul II lauded Father McGivney’s principles and vision of “seeking new ways of being a leaven of the Gospel in the world and a spiritual force for the renewal of the Church in holiness, unity and truth.”
On March 15, 2008, Pope Benedict XLI approved a decree citing McGivney’s foresight and zeal in establishing the Knights of Columbus as a remarkable and exemplary accomplishment, thereby declaring him a Venerable Servant of God.
Earlier this year, in an address to the Knights of Columbus Board of Directors, Pope Francis said the organization has been faithful “to the vision of your founder, Venerable Michael McGivney, who was inspired by the principles of Christian charity and fraternity to assist those most in need.”
On May 27, 2020, Pope Francis approved a miracle attributed to the intercession of Fr. McGivney which involved the healing of an unborn child’s life-threatening condition while in utero. The pope’s action means that Father McGivney can be declared “Blessed,” the step just prior to sainthood. An additional miracle attributed to Father McGivney’s intercession will be required for his canonization as a saint.
The beatification Mass for Fr. Michael McGivney is scheduled for October 31, 2020, in Connecticut, according to the Congregation for Saints’ Causes.
Saint John and the Knights of Columbus
Saint John’s Council #11821 is celebrating its 26th year of operation. We currently have 260 members and are looking for “A Few Good Men” willing to share their Time or Treasure, in appreciation of the Blessings God has provided
If you have an interest in learning more about The Knights, contact Dominick Blasioli, Grand Knight, at 413-537-5123
On Wednesday August 12, Father McGivney’s Birthday, Council #11281 will be installing this year’s officers at a Commemorative Mass