Church leaders at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) first ever virtual assembly highlighted Blessed Michael McGivney, founder of the Knights of Columbus, as a “model and intercessor for our own ministries.”
“He was a pastor in a time of moral confusion and social unrest. Just as we are,” said Archbishop José Gómez of Los Angeles, president of the USCCB. “Like us, he was a priest called to minister in a pandemic. In fact, he gave his life during the flu pandemic of 1890, one of more than 1 million who died worldwide.”
Archbishop Gómez, a member of the Knights, spoke extensively about the K of C founder in his presidential address during the assembly, describing Blessed McGivney’s beatification as a “beautiful moment in the history of the American Church.”
Blessed 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.
Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio to the U.S., told assembly attendees that Blessed McGivney “understood the challenges” of those communities he served, but was able to “animate the lay apostolate” by founding the Knights of Columbus.
“His authoritative witness shows forth the face of the Samaritan church, unwilling to pass by someone in need but willing to see where compassion is needed and to act,” Archbishop Pierre said. “There is a five-year-old boy who, through Father McGivney's intercession was cured of fetal hydrops and now who can look forward in hope to the life that lies ahead. May Blessed Michael McGivney intercede for you in offering to your flocks and witness to hope.”
Archbishop Gómez echoed the apostolic nuncio’s message, adding the historical context in which Blessed McGivney lived as a time of anti-immigrant intolerance, poverty as well as discrimination against Catholics.
“Father McGivney met these injustices by living the Gospel,” he said. “Love was not an abstraction or a cause for him. The widow and the orphan, the father with no job; the prisoner on death row. Blessed Michael McGivney knew their faces and knew their names.”
Amid challenges facing the Church, Archbishop Gómez called on the attendees to follow Blessed McGivney’s “courageous example” and “weep now with those who are weeping.”
“This is our mission in this moment. To continue to bring healing and hope to the people of our time,” he continued. “As we go forward, let us ask for the prayers of Blessed Michael McGivney. May he help us to bring people to a new encounter with Jesus Christ. Who loves us and offers his Body and Blood for us.”
Blessed McGivney’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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