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Newly Renovated McGivney Hall is Dedicated on Catholic University Campus



by Laura Jamison
Catholic Standard staff

A five-story limestone building in the heart of Catholic University's campus that has been out of commission for more than a dozen years was recently dedicated as McGivney Hall during a Sept. 8 ceremony held at the north entrance of the building.

  Remarks by Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson
  Homily for the Mass for 20th Anniversary of the Founding of the John Paul II Institute
  Mcgivney Hall
  McGivney Hall
  Tony Fiorini/CUA

The 50-year-old building, formerly known as Keane Hall, was renamed McGivney Hall after the founder of the Knights of Columbus, Father Michael J. McGivney, because the Knights gave $8 million for the facility's extensive renovations. The building now boasts four classrooms, the 120-seat Keane Auditorium and office space for the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family. A statue of Father McGivney is on display outside the southern entrance of the building.

James Sternberg, a first year graduate student studying Theology who attended the dedication, said all of his classes are held in McGivney Hall.

He said the building "fosters a sense of community in the student body because we can study together and eat together (in the newly renovated building)."

Vincentian Father David O'Connell, the president of the Catholic University of America, said he had a "few worries" about what would happen to the building over the years.

"Today is a dream come true, and I thank you," he said during the dedication ceremony that Carl Anderson, the supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus attended.

The Catholic University of America and the Knights of Columbus are intertwined, the president said. He added that the Knights have supported the school in both good and bad times. For a century, the Knights have contributed to the university by establishing an endowment fund, funding a Chair of American History, merging with Catholic University's law school to form the Columbus School of Law, establishing the Pro Deo And Pro Patria Scholarship Fund and making several other contributions.

Statue of Father McGivney on grounds of McGivney Hall.  
Tony Fiorini/CUA  

In May 2008, Supreme Knight Carl Anderson and his wife, Dorian Anderson, were awarded honorary doctoral degrees in theology from The Catholic University of America.During the dedication ceremony, Washington Archbishop Donald Wuerl, the chancellor of the Catholic University of America, gave the invocation and blessing. The archbishop prayed that the institute would uphold family values and be a source of "one truth."

Bishop William Lori, supreme chaplain of the Knights of Columbus and chairman of the board of trustees at The Catholic University of America, said he has seen the Catholic University campus "blossom" recently.

"It's never looked more beautiful inside and out," he said.The bishop added, half-jokingly, that the condition for receiving the newly-renovated building was to pray frequently for Father McGivney's cause for canonization."It is time for an American parish priest to be canonized," he said.

In 2008, Pope Benedict XVI named Father McGivney venerable. For the priest to be declared blessed, the Vatican has to accept the authenticity of a miracle gained through his intercession. If canonized, Father McGivney could be the first parish priest born in the United States to be declared a saint.

Father McGivney, the oldest of 13 children, six of whom didn't survive infancy, began preparatory studies for the seminary at age 16. After Father McGivney's father died prematurely, the priest - moved by the situation his own family faced - grew deeply concerned for widows and children. He set out to create a Catholic fraternal benefit society, and in 1882 the Knights of Columbus was chartered. At the young age of 38 the parish priest died of pneumonia.

Supreme Knight Carl Anderson, who delivered remarks at the dedication ceremony, said Pope Benedict XVI praised the parish priest for his "self-sacrifice." During the pontiff's apostolic journey to the United States the pope said Father McGivney was an "exemplary American priest ...whose vision and zeal led to the establishment of the Knights of Columbus."