In July, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints announced the beatification of the Knights of Columbus founder Father Michael McGivney would take place on October 31st.
On Saturday, McGivney was beatified in a special Mass celebrated by Archbishop of Newark Cardinal Joseph Tobin at Saint Joseph’s Cathedral in Hartford, Connecticut, his home diocese.
Reading the apostolic letter from Pope Francis formally beatifying McGivney, Tobin said:
“Father McGivney’s life is an illustration of how a holy priest can provide the necessary and intimate connection, so crucial in the life and mission of a parish. The signature accomplishment for which he is remembered, founding the Knights of Columbus, grew out of his ministry as a parish priest. This great brotherhood of 2 million now spanning the globe was born from the pastoral ingenuity of a parish priest to respond to the twin challenges faced by the people he served. Because he knew his people well, so well. We accept that like him, God calls each one of us in our own day and own way, to be vessels of mercy, and so, enter into our heavenly inheritance.”
In his apostolic letter, Pope Francis said McGivney’s “zeal for the proclamation of the Gospel and generous concern for his brothers and sisters made him an outstanding witness of Christian solidarity and fraternal assistance” and that he “henceforth be given the title blessed.”
At the end of Mass, Archbishop Leonard Blair of Hartford said he called to pray that “at Blessed Michael McGivney’s intercession, we may be blessed with a further miracle leading to his canonization as a saint for the whole Church.”
His feast day is August 13th, the day in between his birthday, August 12th, and his death, August 14th in the Archdiocese of Hartford.
Read his biography from the Knights of Columbus below:
Born of Irish immigrant parents in 1852 in Waterbury, Connecticut, 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 evangelization, charity, racial integration, and the defense of religious freedom.
Father McGivney spent his entire priesthood in parish ministry and died of pneumonia on August 14, 1890— two days after his 38th birthday – after falling ill amid a pandemic. Recent scientific evidence indicates that that pandemic – like the current one – may have been caused by a coronavirus.
Known by his contemporaries for his devotion to the faith and his embodiment of the characteristics of the “Good Samaritan,” his cause for sainthood was opened in the Archdiocese of Hartford in 1997. St. John Paul II – who was pope at that time – lauded Father McGivney’s principles, stating in 2003, “In fidelity to the vision of Father McGivney, may you continue to seek 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.”
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.”