by Dominican Father Gabriel B. O’Donnell
In the 125 years since Father Michael J. McGivney founded the Knights of the Columbus, the world has changed radically.
Some things have been for the better, and others for the worse. Would Father McGivney do things differently were he starting the Knights of Columbus in 2007? Would he recognize today’s Knights as his own? Would he be pleased with the changes the Order has made and the new directions it has taken over the years?
These are questions to ponder as we reflect on our future in this anniversary year.
Growing in Holiness
In his message for the World Day of Prayer for Peace last Jan. 1, Pope Benedict XVI pleaded that 2007 be a year of peace. We must work each day to establish peace in our world, he said.
“Peace is promoted by respecting the person,” the pope said, because it is in the human person that the heart of peace is found. There can be no peace between nations until there is peace in our hearts, peace in our families, peace in our neighborhoods and peace in our cities.
Creating a peaceful world depends upon each of us affirming the worth and dignity of every person and every human life.
In light of the pope’s teaching, we can be sure that whatever Father McGivney might do differently today, his would be a fraternal society we would easily recognize.
Why? Because it could only be established, before all else, on the principle that each person possesses a dignity and has certain rights that set him apart from the rest of creation.
Father McGivney’s vision of protecting and building up Christian families was founded on the timeless truth that promoting respect for the person leads to everything else that is good for the family and society.
Father McGivney’s encounters with anti-Catholic bigotry and working men with destitute families touched him deeply. He saw these injustices as affronts to what it means to be a fully human person. Father McGivney’s vision for the Knights was based on his belief that Catholic men had an inherent dignity which would find its full flowering only as these men grew in holiness through their vocation as husbands, fathers, providers and protectors.