Father McGivney Honored in Opening Ceremonies
On the first day of the 9th Knights of Columbus Philippine National Convention held in the capital city of Manila, Supreme Knight Carl Anderson engaged in a series of events that raised awareness of the cause for canonization of Venerable Michael McGivney, the Order’s founder.
The program began with the convention’s opening Mass, after which three pilgrim statues of Father McGivney were blessed. Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, then blessed three sites dedicated to the founder: a multimedia studio at the CBCP headquarters; a monumental cupola for a statue of Father McGivney outside the headquarters of KCFAPI, the Knights’ insurance program in the Philippines; and an oratory inside the KCFAPI headquarters.
Making his third visit to the Southeast Asia country, Anderson and his wife, Dorian, attended the opening Mass on Friday, April 27, in San Agustin Church, the oldest in the Philippines. Before the final blessing, the Supreme Knight delivered remarks on Father McGivney’s cause.
“This is a great day for the Knights of Columbus, a great day for Father McGivney, a great day for the Philippine nation,” he said. “Today we recall the dedication and sacrifice of Father McGivney as we resolve to follow in his footsteps more closely in charity, unity, fraternity and patriotism.”
Father McGivney, who founded the Knights of Columbus in 1882 with a handful of laymen at St. Mary’s Church in New Haven, Conn., was declared Venerable in March 2008, when Pope Benedict XVI approved a decree recognizing his heroic virtue. A miracle attributed to Father McGivney’s intercession is needed for him to be considered for beatification, and a subsequent miracle would be necessary for canonization. The Supreme Knight expressed the hope that the miracles would come from the Philippines, which has a long history of a strong and vibrant faith.
Anderson praised Filipino Knights for their fidelity to the Church, their support for their bishops and priests, and their dedication to the principles of the Order. He expressed “justified pride in the accomplishments of the Knights in the Philippines,” including their dedication to charitable works and steady growth in membership, which stands at more than 288,000 Filipino Knights.
“When we talk about membership, we are talking about more than just numbers, though numbers are important,” the Supreme Knight said. “Each new member of the Order really represents a changed life, a life changed for the better. That is what we celebrate first and foremost.”
At the conclusion of the opening Mass, three 4-foot statues of the founder were blessed and carried in procession from the church. The statues were delivered to the deputies of the three Philippine jurisdictions — Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao — and will be sent on pilgrimage over the next few months to council homes and parishes throughout the nation of islands.
Following Mass, Archbishop Palma and the Supreme Knight participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Father Michael McGivney Multimedia Studio, located at the CBCP headquarters. Constructed with a grant from the Supreme Council, the state-of-the art studio will seek to educate and evangelize through videos promoting the sanctity of marriage and the family. After the archbishop blessed the studio, Anderson recorded a brief interview with Msgr. Pedro Quitorio, CBCP news director.
On the final leg of the busy morning, Archbishop Palma and the Supreme Knight traveled a few blocks away to the headquarters of KCFAPI. Speaking before the cupola that featured a statue of Father McGivney, Anderson said the new structure would be a focal point of devotion for the founder. The ceremony included the laying of a wreath and the release of white balloons signifying the desire that the Order’s founder would soon be recognized as a saint in heaven.
Inside the KCFAPI building, Archbishop Palma blessed a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patroness of the Americas and the Philippines to whom the Supreme Knight has dedicated his administration. The archbishop then blessed the newly constructed oratory dedicated to Father McGivney.
Before leaving the headquarters, the Supreme Knight also placed a wreath at the statue of Father George Willmann, a Jesuit missionary who is called the “Father McGivney of the Philippines” because of his work over many years with Filipino Knights.
Later, the convention’s opening business session on Friday afternoon gathered nearly 2,000 delegates and their spouses to hear reports from Knights of Columbus leaders and inspirational addresses by members of the hierarchy.