CHARLESTON—Father Michael McGivney, the founder of the Knights of Columbus, will be beatified during a special Mass Oct. 31 at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Hartford, Conn.
Leading up to his beatification, Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone has asked people in the Diocese of Charleston — including pastors, administrators and parish life facilitators — to actively support their Knights of Columbus Councils in recognition of all they contribute to their parishes and communities.
Bishop Guglielmone, who is a member of both a council and an assembly of the Knights of Columbus, encouraged everyone to support and participate in their local group. He noted that the Knights will be conducting membership drives leading up to the beatification, and support from the pastor and parish is a strong sign of appreciation and acknowledgment for all they do.
“I ask you to pay special attention to the renewal going on in the Order and to all its efforts to build the Domestic Church,” Bishop Guglielmone stated.
He noted two new initiatives in particular that are occurring on a worldwide level: “Faith in Action” and “Leave No Neighbor Behind.”
“Through ‘Faith in Action,’ Knights are refocusing activities on faith-filled programs, and on the spiritual development of members and their families. We are pursuing this as invaluable support to parishes and local communities,” the bishop stated. “The ‘Leave No Neighbor Behind’ initiative encourages Knights and their families to step into the breach to serve others, especially in this time of upheaval.”
Father McGivney (1852-1890), the son of Irish immigrants, was born in Waterbury, Connecticut, and was ordained a priest in 1877 for what is now the Archdiocese of Hartford. He founded the Knights of Columbus at St. Mary’s Parish in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1882.
He originally started the Knights as a service organization to help widows and orphans. At the time, Father McGivney was an assistant pastor at St. Mary’s Parish. He is buried in New Haven.
The fraternal order for Catholic men has become the largest lay Catholic organization in the world with 2 million members, and sponsors a wide range of educational, charitable and religious activities.
Father McGivney, who will be the first American parish priest to be beatified and has long been a hero of working-class Catholics, can be viewed as a martyr of a pandemic. When he died of pneumonia complications at age 38 in 1890, it was during an outbreak of influenza known as the Russian flu in Thomaston, Connecticut. Some recent evidence, according to the Knights, indicates the outbreak may have been the result of a coronavirus.
The miracle recognized by the Vatican occurred in 2015 and involved a U.S. baby, still in utero, with a life-threatening condition that, under most circumstances, could have led to an abortion.
That baby, Mikey Schachle, is now 5. His parents, Dan and Michelle Schachle, of Dickson, Tennessee, prayed to Father McGivney to intercede with God to save their son, still in his mother’s womb, who was given no hope of surviving a life-threatening case of fetal hydrops.
The initial work on his sainthood cause began in 1982 on the Knights’ centenary. His cause was formally opened in Hartford in 1997, and he was given the title “servant of God.” In March 2008, the Catholic Church recognized the priest heroically lived the Christian virtues, so he was given the title “venerable.”
Generally, two miracles attributed to the candidate’s intercession are required for sainthood — one for beatification and the second for canonization.
The Knights have set up a new website for Father McGivney’s sainthood cause at fathermcgivney.org.
The Catholic Miscellany in the Diocese of Charleston, S.C., contributed to this report.