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Archived Online Discussion
Topic: Parish Priest
Date: 5-6 pm (ET)
on Thursday, January 18, 2007
Carl Anderson
Supreme Knight
Douglas Brinkley
Parish Priest Co-Author
Tony Genco
Woodbridge, Ontario Canada
What can we do to encourage a greater understanding of Father McGivney's challenges and how they relate to our current modern realities to assist our community today? There are many similarities but they not be obvious to many given modern lifestyles.
Carl Anderson:
Thank you for the first question. The philosophy of the Knights of Columbus is the same now as it was in 1882. Protecting families and helping them grow in their faith has always been, and will always be, the most important aspect of the Knights of Columbus. While the challenges may change, and those most in need of protection may hail from a different place, our mission will be the same.

Douglas Brinkley:
Father McGivney took on duties far from the altar and the pulpit. He organized his congregation’s men to come together and help the sick and the poor and the destitute. Despite our modern lifestyles, there are still people in need in every community. Organizing the parish to help those people is what McGivney saw as his duty – and that is his legacy.

Philip Wilmot DD#77
What was the life expectancy of a parish Priest in that time. Going to parishioners no matter what illness the parishioner had. Putting there life at risk with no thought of personal safety.
"Giving his all for the children of God"
Carl Anderson:
Thanks, Worthy DD Wilmot. The life expectancy of a parish priest in the late 19th century was roughly 37 years. We can all be proud of what he accomplished in the few years he was a priest.

Walt Jones
Glen Carbon, IL USA
Fr. McGivney indicates we are not a considered a Secret Society by the Church. It is because we allow non-member Priests into our ceremonials. If a non-member Priest desired to attend a meeting/ceremonial and not join, would this be considered okay?
Carl Anderson:
Interesting question, Brother Jones. If a nonmember priest "desires" to attend a meeting, by all means encourage him to attend. I think it would be in keeping with Father McGivney's original intentions, plus as we try to start more parish-based councils, bringing more priests to K of C functions will give them an idea of just what the Knights could contribute to their parishes.

Gabriel Herrera
Pico Rivera, California USA
I recently visited Spain and Portugal,I did not find K O C there, are there any efforts being expended to establish a firm footing there? Thanks Gabriel
Carl Anderson:
As you may know the Knights just expanded into Poland, our first expansion into Europe, and our first internationally in nearly 100 years. I was in Valencia last year for the World Meeting of Families, and was impressed by the faith I saw. We hope that Poland will not be the only country in Europe where we are able to establish the Knights.

Charles Plumbly
Clifton Park, N.Y.,
Is anything being considered to promote a review of this book along with the study materials in Catholic high schools as part of a program supported by the Knights of Columbus?
Carl Anderson:
Thanks for your question. In fact, we have produced a study guide, which we made available to Catholic educators at the National Catholic Educational Association convention conference in Atlanta in 2006. We think that Parish Priest and the study guide are a great way for students to learn more both about the life of our founder and also about the Catholic history of the United States.

Katy Van Kirk
Morrisville, PA ,USA
I am so proud of my husband, a Knight, but feel I am denied an opportunity to support him by being unable to attend ceremonies. Isn’t keeping wives away from their spouses contrary to Father McGivney's goal?
Carl Anderson:
Thanks for your question and, on behalf of all Knights and husbands, thanks for your support of him as a Knight. Wives are invited to attend officers' installation ceremonies and the Fourth Degree, as well as take part in family activities or service projects sponsored by the council.

John Erwin
Haddon Heights,NJ
Worthy Supreme Knight,

Please elaborate on the notion that "We are not a secret society, only certain of our ceremonials are secret".

Thank you.
Carl Anderson:
While our initiation ceremonies are restricted to members, virtually all of our activities are open to and seek the involvement of the families of members and the wider community. Our works of service, in particular, are aimed to benefit all those in need.

Robert Sass
Rapid City, SD USA
What inspired you to write this book about Fr. McGivney?
Douglas Brinkley:
My co-author Julie Fenster and I had discussed for a long time our interest in the priesthood as a historical subject – in the sort of continuity priests represent, that their conduct and duties and traditions haven’t changed much over the centuries. It’s something we both wanted to write about. Then in 1998 there was an article in the New York Times about Father McGivney and the possibility of him being canonized. We were fascinated and started doing research on his life almost immediately. When we found out that there hadn’t been a biography written about him, we knew we had to do it.

Carl Anderson:
No, we do not have a corporate jet.

Mike Lairson
Wake Forest, NC, USA
Were our ceremonials designed during Fr. McGivney's time? Have they changed a great deal since? I know you cannot provide detail, but I would like to know how much, if any, of his design still remains part of those proceedings. Vivat Jesus.
Carl Anderson:
Thanks, Brother Lairson. Our first supreme knight was instrumental in developing the ceremonials, with Father McGivney's input. The messages or lessons of the ceremonials have remained the same since those early days, but the content of the ceremonials has changed in 125 years. You might like to know, though, that our Ceremonials Committee is reviewing our degrees and that new First and Second Degree ceremonials have been completed and are being used. If you have an opportunity to get involved in ceremonial work at the council or other level, I'd recommend it. It brings a richness to your K of C experience.

Priests before and after Fr. McGivney have ministered to prisoners including those on death row. Why is his ministry to the prisoner being hailed as a special act worthy of sainthood? Have any miracles been attributed to him during or after his life?
Carl Anderson:
Father McGivney's ministry to Chip Smith showed that the young priest's pastoral concern was far reaching and included those who were even scorned by others. The Father McGivney Guild recieves many e-mails and letters reporting favors recieved by those who have prayed to Fr. McGivney. One possible miracle has undergone review by the Archdiocese of Hartford and has been forwarded to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome, for consideration.

Joe Soucy
Georgetown, MA
Carl. We look forward to your talk at the Boston Catholic Men's Conference! The story of Fr. McGivney is so inspiring for Catholic men (I've read the book three times). Will your talk center on the founder, or if not, what topic? Vivat Jesus!
Carl Anderson:
Brother Soucy, thanks for your enthusiastic support of Parish Priest. I agree: It's a great book and one I hope every brother Knight reads. I'm looking forward to the conference in March and am sure my remarks will include something about Father McGivney and his charism, and his special appeal to Catholic men.

David Novack
Inver Grove Heights, MN USA
Not a question but please pass along to Mr. Brinkley that I throughly enjoyed reading his book and to promote the book I have been giving the book as a gift for those people in my life who are hard to shop for. It's a great book about a great man.
Douglas Brinkley:
Thanks very much for reading it and for sharing it with others.

Peter Crowther
Birmingham, AL
Father McGivney was an outspoken leader in the New Haven community, an anomaly by common standard for priests. How did his actions compare with that of other priests and how did his influence win support to start and expand the fraternal society?
Carl Anderson:
I think that the Catholic Church has a long history of high profile priests. If we just take the new world as our example, we have Bartoleme de las Casas during the Spanish colonial period, John Carroll in Baltimore, Father Francis Xavier Seelos in New Orleans, Cardinal Gibbons in Baltimore, Archbishop Fulton Sheen, and Father Patrick Peyton, CSC etc. Many of these men worked closely with the laity, but McGivney was unique in his founding of a lay organization.

Douglas Brinkley:
The generation before his was very cloistered. And Father McGivney was a member of a new generation of younger priests who made a serious effort to leave the sanctuary and enter life in the greater community. He was completely in step with his generation in that way, and in that he was also very respectful of the church hierarchy. His generation ought to certainly get credit for moving off of the church grounds and getting involved.

Scott Hume
Omaha, Neb., USA
How widespread is the movement to support the canonization of Father McGivney? How many individuals are involved in the campaign for saintly recognition?
Carl Anderson:
There are approximately 100,000 members who have enrolled in The Father McGivney Guild, which is the clearinghouse set up with Church approval to promote devotion to Father McGivney. Besides those members, we encourage every council to include the prayer for his canonization at council meetings and other KC functions, so I'm fairly certain that devotion to him is widespread, and not just among members. Please visit for more information about the cause or to enroll in the Guild.

Mike Mickalonis
Athens, Georgia
Any further developments in regards to a previous answer "Father McGivney and the possibility of him being canonized" ??
Carl Anderson:
Doug, I will take that one. The evidence of his sancticty of life has all been assembled, and the documentation submitted to the Vatican. We have a reported miracle and that has also been submitted. We are now prayerfully awaiting the decision by the Vatican.

George Shoemaker
Denver Co USA+
What do you see as the role of the office of lector in the K of C meetings and how did Father McGivney see it?
Carl Anderson:
The lector can play a role in keeping members up-to-date on news and information from the Supreme Council. We're also hoping that lectors will promote this book club at council meetings by introducing the featured books at a council meeting and encouraging members to read and discuss them, even if they don't have an opportunity to take part in these online discussions.

Barry Phillips
springfield, PA
How did the Knights of Columbus develop the Council Halls. When did the KofC leave the parishes and become based in council homes?
Carl Anderson:
Doug I will take this one. The truth is it's the opposite. Although Fr. McGivney's vision was to have a council in every parish, in the first part of the 20th century many councils served more than one parish and thus began to establish council halls. More than 30 years ago we began to reverse that trend, and the sustained growth of the order in membership and councils is the result of that effort.

Luis Ignacio Rivera
Bayamon, Puerto Rico, USA
Thanks for all the well done work that you have made to the order. I wan to know when, if posible, you'll visit Puerto Rico. God bless you. Vivat Jesus
Carl Anderson:
Thanks, Brother Luis. I hope to visit Puerto Rico in the near future. We're very proud of what the Knights in Puerto Rico are doing to grow and promote the Order there. Thanks for your kind words about my leadership.

Rich S.
North Hampton, New Hampshire
It is my understanding that the Knights of Columbus has a museum near its main offices in New Haven. What types of events and related exhibits exist as part of the museum agenda to educate and promote the concepts presented by the McGivney biography?
Carl Anderson:
The Knights of Columbus Museum has a permanent gallery dedicated to Father McGivney, which traces his life and provides insight into his vision for the Knights of Columbus. Our Museum also hosts changing exhibits of sacred art and Church history -- presently we have two truly remarkable exhibitions, "A Vatican Christmas: Creches of Pope John Paul II" (closes Feb 4) and "The Swiss Guard: Celebrating 500 Years of Papal Service" (closes June 30). More information about our Museum is available online at

Luis Ignacio Rivera
Bayamon, Puerto Rico, USA
Do you think that in so short time of life of Father McGivney and what he did creating our order and how has grow, for me is like a social miracle. What can you say about that? God bless you.
Douglas Brinkley:
Father McGivney was a practical man, his idea of helping Catholics was helping widows benefit from insurance. In this sense his vision had a modernity to it. He was a progrssive reformer. He would certainly be surprised by the proliferation of Knights of Columbus chapters, he wouldn't think it a miracle, rather he would say it was a fine idea put into action.

Lawrence Salvato
Brick, N.J. USA
What was the ethnic backround of Father McGivney's first parish?
Carl Anderson:
St. Mary's, here in New Haven, was predominantly Irish American. Today, it's a typical central city parish in downtown New Haven that draws parishioners from surrounding neighborhoods, Yale University and the suburbs.

Chris Davies
Colorado Springs, CO
What types of physical commemoratives (i.e. schools, hospitals, youth centers, etc.) have been created in honor of Father McGivney?
Carl Anderson:
Doug, I would be happy to answer that one. Among the memorials to Father McGivney, there are: 1) The Father Michael McGivney Center for Cancer Care at St. Raphael's Hospital in New Haven, the Catholic hospital in the city where the Order was founded.The Knights have contributed significantly to the operation of the center. 2) There is a statue of Father McGivney in his hometown of Waterbury, Conn. that commemorates his founding of the Order. 3) A number of churches carry statues or stained-glass images of Father McGivney, including a church near Niagara Falls. 4) A Catholic school in Ontario, Canada, is named for Father McGivney 5) In Brooklyn, New York, a street has been renamed for Father McGivney

Theresa Daigle;
Torrington, CT
Great book! How do Knights of Columbus members support local parish priests to help them in dealing with today’s issues?
Carl Anderson:
Thanks for your kind words about Parish Priest. We have a long-standing program of showing our "Solidarity with our Priests." We strive to support future priests during their seminary years through financial and spiritual support. And since most of our 14,000 councils are based at parishes, our organization is ideally suited to truly be 'the right arm of the Church' and assist in parish life -- everything from participating in parish ministries like ushers to providing manpower for parish events like bible studies or fairs. Especially in recent years, when the priesthood has been under attack, the Order has been a bulwark of support for the priesthood.

Dan Gardner
Jasper, AL
I would like to tell Mr. Brinkley that I really enjoyed reading "Parish Priest," and it is because of Catholic men like Father McGivney that I converted to Catholicism 5 years ago and I am proud to be a member of the Knights of Columbus.
Carl Anderson:
Brother Gardner, on behalf of Doug, let me thank you for reading Parish Priest and for your action in joining the Knights.

New Haven, CT
Father McGivney attended postsecondary schools in Montreal, Niagara and Maryland as part of his studies for the priesthood. What forms of education were available to young Catholic men in southern New England at the time?
Carl Anderson:
Such a wide-ranging education as McGivney received was really quite an anomaly. Of course, a good education could be had at Yale, Hopkins, Harvard and the other major universities of the United States, but something as cosmopolitan as what McGivney was exposed to is really quite unusual and helps explain the Knights’ vision that extended beyond the U.S. border almost immediately.

Douglas Brinkley:
Father McGivney actually attended a public school in Waterbury as a young man that was run, under special arrangement, by his local priest. So he was luckier than most young Catholics looking for a parochial education, because there were few opportunities to receive one. And, of course, there were no Catholic colleges.

Birmingham, AL
What is the Knights of Columbus doing now to help immigrants--which was one of the founding motives? What is the position of the Knights on the Mexican border wall?
Carl Anderson:
The Knights of Columbus is committed to helping immigrants. In his first encyclical, on the subject of love, Pope Benedict XVI cautions that “to say that we love God becomes a lie if we are closed to our neighbor or hate him altogether.” We must work for a rational immigration policy and as children or grandchildren of immigrants ourselves, we should be sensitive to the plight of those who view the United States as their hope. We should also remember that many immigrants, especially those from Latin America, are fellow Catholics. They should be welcomed as brothers in faith, not looked at as interlopers. Hispanic Catholics bring the promise of a revitalized Church in the United States, and that cannot be underestimated. Of course, a solution to the magnetic effect of the disparity between the economies of Latin America and the United States must be addressed from the point of view of Catholic social teaching in order to create an equitable solution to an otherwise unsolvable problem.

North Haven, CT
What can today's parish priests learn from Father McGiveny in shepherding their own congregations today in a world that is increasingly antiCatholic and antiChristian and also with many Catholics who do not know their faith or are apathetic about it?
Carl Anderson:
In Father McGivney, seminarians and young priests can find a true role model. Of course, Father McGivney's day was not without its fair share of anti-Catholic sentiment -- in fact, countering that sentiment was one of the prime impulses for his founding of the Order. McGivney's courage in the face of adversity, and abiding faith are characteristics every priest should emulate. Father McGivney was truly a priest of the people who was creative in the ways in which he worked to unite himself with youth and families as well as men in his parish. Especially today priests should follow his example in seeking ways to be present to the youth and families in their parishes. One way many priests have done so is to serve as chaplains to K of C councils in their parishes.

Douglas Brinkley:
I’ll borrow some wisdom from an old historian friend of mine here and say that our times are not uniquely oppressive. Though the challenges for parish priests are different today, McGivney faced anti-Catholic sentiment and prejudice that we can hardly fathom today. McGivney’s focus on faith, family, and the parish were unshakable despite all the challenges he - and Catholics as a whole – faced in their time. The work he did through the community with the Knights is probably the most instructive. Through his deeds he helped himself and others transcend.

George Shoemaker
Denver Co USA+
What do you see as the role of the office of lecturer in K of C meetings and how did Father McGivney?
Carl Anderson:
The lecturer can do a lot to build fraternity in the council meeting by sharing news from the Supreme Council, and when we created this book club we hoped the lecturer would take this project on especially by telling members about the books and encouraging them to read them.

Joe McCallion
Livonia, MI USA
How can knowing the life of Father McGivney help today's Parish Priest's? What do you think were Father McGivney's strongest virtues?
Douglas Brinkley:
His strongest virtues were humility and compassion. He always had time to help people through their low moments. He simply was a first class parish priest, and he is a symbol of the thousands of great parish priests in the US today. He also had a great sense of humor that helped him on a daily basis. He loved people.

Chicago, IL USA
Thank you for having this discussion - It was a great idea and most informative.
Carl Anderson:
Thanks for taking part. Please encourage other Knights to take part next month. I want to thank everyone who participated and remind you that next month’s book is The Right to Be Wrong: Ending the Culture War over Religion in America, by Kevin Seamus Hasson. Brother Hasson is a member of Potomac Council 433 in Washington, and is scheduled to join us online Feb. 22 at 4:30 p.m. (ET). Visit the Order’s Web site for ordering information.

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