NEW HAVEN, Conn. — On the Solemnity of All Saints, the Knights of Columbus and pilgrims celebrated a Mass of thanksgiving for newly Blessed Michael McGivney — the founder of the Knights of Columbus (K of C) — at St. Mary’s Church in New Haven, Conn., where he established the Order in 1882.
“Today we are grateful to our Lord, who in his mercy raises up holy priests to minister to his people, especially in times of adversity,” Supreme Knight Carl Anderson said in remarks following Mass. “Truly, this is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad.”
Supreme Chaplain Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore was the main celebrant of the Mass, joined by Archbishop Leonard Blair of Hartford, Archbishop Mieczysław Mokrzycki of Lviv and 15 additional clergy. Other dignitaries included the K of C supreme officers, Mayor Justin Elicker of New Haven, relatives of the Order’s founder and the Schachle family — who received a miracle after praying for Blessed McGivney’s intercession.
The Mass capped off a weekend of celebration in which Father McGivney was officially declared “blessed” by a Vatican decree during a Mass held at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Hartford, Conn. The beatification Mass followed five months after Pope Francis issued a decree on May 27 attributing a miracle to the intercession of Blessed McGivney. The miracle involved the healing of Michael “Mikey” Schachle from fetal hydrops, which causes a fatal accumulation of fluids throughout the body of an unborn child.
In his homily, Supreme Chaplain Lori referred to the new blessed as a “priest of the beatitudes” because he “gave up everything to serve the Church.”
“Father McGivney led his parishioners to holiness and continues to provide for parish priests a pattern, a model, for the renewal of priestly life — a renewal so urgently necessary and so deeply desired by God’s holy people,” Supreme Chaplain Lori said. “Having lived the beatitudes so thoroughly and consistently, Father McGivney provides the Knights of Columbus with a roadmap into the future, as the Order seeks to help men become better husbands and fathers and convincing witnesses to the Gospel in these challenging times.”
Supreme Knight Anderson spoke at the Mass, noting that Pope Francis, after reciting Angelus, led pilgrims at St. Peter’s Square in a round of applause in honor of Blessed McGivney. The Holy Father went on to say, “May his example encourage all of us to give greater witness to the Gospel of charity.”
The supreme knight then recounted how Blessed McGivney had a missionary spirit, working on the peripheries in a century when the Catholic Church regarded the U.S., and even St. Mary’s parish, as “mission territory.” It was also a time when Catholics confronted prejudice and violence for their faith. But it was these circumstances that inspired Blessed McGivney’s “great achievement” — the founding of the Knights of Columbus.
“Father McGivney would not allow his parish to become a ghetto,” Supreme Knight Anderson said. “Nor would his rectory be a cloister. He would not be a bystander to the great challenges of his day. He was a parish priest who would be in the world, but not of it.”
Today, the Knights of Columbus bolsters more than 2 million members worldwide and more than 10,000 active councils. Supreme Knight Anderson said that it may be “difficult to appreciate how innovative and extraordinary” Blessed McGivney’s vision, of a Catholic fraternity based on charity, was in 1882. This past year, Knights donated more than $187 million and volunteered more than 77 million hours inspired by Blessed McGivney’s vision.
“This is how Father McGivney lived his life as a parish priest,” Supreme Knight Anderson said. “This is why today we call him blessed. And this is where we find his spiritual genius: He opened a practical path for millions of men to follow him in living this truth of Christian charity.”
The Mass concluded with Supreme Chaplain Lori presenting Archbishop Blair with a major relic of Blessed McGivney for veneration, as well as a recitation of the prayer for canonization at Blessed McGivney’s tomb. The new blessed’s liturgical memorial will be observed annually on Aug. 13, the day between his birth (Aug. 12) and death (Aug. 14).
Want to learn more about Father McGivney’s legacy and influence on people around the world? Visit kofc.org/beatification.
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