American Priest with Kilmore Connections to be beatified:
In a decree issued from the Vatican on Wednesday 27 May 2020, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, with the approval of Pope Francis, has acknowledged a miracle through the intercession of the Venerable Father Michael Joseph McGivney, the founder of the Knights of Columbus, thus fulfilling the requirements for his beatification.
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 canonisation as a saint.
The miracle recognised as coming through Father McGivney’s intercession involved an unborn child in the United States who in 2015 was healed in the womb of a life-threatening condition after prayers by his family to Father McGivney.
Father McGivney was a Connecticut priest who served his flock during the pandemic of 1890, before himself becoming ill and dying of pneumonia.
He is best known for founding the Knights of Columbus in 1882. Nearly a century before the Second Vatican Council, his prescient vision empowered the laity to serve Church and neighbour in a new way. Today, the Knights of Columbus is one of the largest Catholic organizations in the world with 2 million members in North and Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia, and Europe.
Father McGivney was born of Irish immigrant parents on 12 August 1852 in Waterbury, Connecticut. His father, Patrick, was a native of Drumkilly (Crosserlough Parish) and his mother, Mary Lynch, came from Castlerahan – both in the Diocese of Kilmore.
His parents came to the United States in the great 19th-century wave of Irish immigration and were married in Waterbury. Patrick was a molder in the heat and noxious fumes of a brass mill. Mary gave birth to 13 children, six of whom died young, leaving Michael (the eldest) with four living sisters and two brothers, who also became priests.
Father McGivney was a central figure in the dramatic growth of the Church in the United States in the late 19th century. Ordained in Baltimore in 1877, he ministered to a heavily Irish-American and immigrant community in the then-Diocese of Hartford. At a time of anti-Catholic sentiment, he worked tirelessly to keep his flock close to the faith in part by finding practical solutions to their many problems – spiritual and temporal alike. With a group of the leading Catholic men of New Haven, he founded the Knights of Columbus in 1882 at St. Mary’s Church to provide spiritual support for Catholic men and financial resources for families that had suffered the loss of their breadwinner.
The fledgling group soon became a major force in the areas of evangelisation, charity, racial integration, and the defense of religious freedom.
Never robust in health, Father McGivney continued to minister in the vineyard of the Lord until he fell ill during the pandemic of 1889-1890 — possibly caused by a coronavirus — and was stricken with severe pneumonia in January 1890. The young priest lost physical strength just as the Knights of Columbus were moving toward new vitality. He died on August 14, just two days past his 38th birthday.
Today, Father McGivney’s body is interred in a beautiful marble tomb in St. Mary’s Church in New Haven, where he founded the Knights of Columbus.
His vision and mission continue to bear fruit through the work he inspired in the more than 2 million Knights of Columbus working throughout the world. These men, these Knights, form a band of brothers dedicated to faith in action under the principles of charity, unity, fraternity and patriotism.
In March 2008, he was declared a Venerable Servant of God by Pope Benedict XVI, who during his visit to St. Patrick’s Cathedral cited the “remarkable accomplishment of that exemplary American priest, the Venerable Michael McGivney, whose vision and zeal led to the establishment of the Knights of Columbus.”
A date will soon be set for the beatification Mass, which will take place in Connecticut. It will include the reading of an apostolic letter from the Holy Father and the bestowing of the title “Blessed” on Father McGivney.
More information is also available at www.FatherMcGivney.org