Everyone who is a member of the Knights of Columbus recognizes the name of Father Michael McGivney. He is credited and rightly so, as the founding source of the Knights of Columbus. His aim was to help strengthen the faith and provide financial support to families in need. And so, the fraternal society which came to be known as the Knights of Columbus sprang into life in 1882.
Father McGivney was the first chaplain of the K of C, as it has come to be called. He was a priest in Connecticut and served in parish ministry at S t. Mary’s Church in New Haven. Most of his parishioners were poor working people and many of them were immigrants. From the experiences of his own family life he was very much aware of their struggles and this firsthand experience inspired him all the more to be especially solicitous of their struggles.
From the founding of the Knights of Columbus Father McGivney spread the word of the Knights throughout Connecticut and elsewhere. It quickly spread and the growth of the K of C spread along with it. Father McGivney’s years as chaplain did not last long. He contracted pneumonia and died on August 14, 1890. A short life but one lived with great zeal for the spread of the gospel and the service he gave to so many people whose lives he touches through his ministry.
At the time of his death a testimonial was given by the Knights of Columbus. This brief passage of that testimonial speaks volumes even now of the kind of person he was and the kind of priest he had become. I would like to share a part of it with you.
“He was a man of the people. He was zealous of the peoples’ welfare and all the kindliness of his priestly soul asserted itself more strongly in his unceasing efforts for the betterment of their condition.”
That testimonial made back in 1890, holds true as a testimonial of a servant of God who today is Blessed Michael McGivney, raised to this state of holiness by Pope Francis. He was declared venerable by Pope Benedict XVI in 2008. May the time go by quickly as we can joyously include him among the list of canonized American saints.
We already have several American saints and among them are several who demonstrated so vividly their response to the call of the Lord to serve their brothers and sisters in a wonderful variety of ways. Among them are St. Frances Cabrini who served the needs of immigrants who came to America first from Italy and the from many other countries. We recall, too. St. Catherine Drexel, a native of Philadelphia, became a religious and dedicated her life and ministry to the education of the underprivileged, founding such institutions as Xavier University in Louisiana.
The saints, the canonized ones, and those on the road to the top some called ‘venerable’ others called ‘blessed’. All of them true servants of the Lord. Let us all rejoice in this great community we call the ‘Communion of the Saints’. And may we never forget, each of us has been called to this community too. Blessed Michael McGivney, pray for us and inspire us.