Columbia November 2020

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Father McGivney’s founding mission was to protect the financial future of members and their families.

138 years later, his mission continues.


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Columbia NOVEMBER 2020





Departments 3

Building a better world In our Founder’s ministry, we see the spirit of charity and brotherhood to which all missionary disciples are called.

By Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson

4 Learning the faith, living the faith Father McGivney’s loving, respectful cooperation with his parishioners is a model for both priests and laity. By Supreme Chaplain Archbishop William E. Lori

PLUS: Catholic Man of the Month

A mosaic at the Knights of Columbus headquarters’ Holy Family Chapel depicts the Crucifixion adjacent to the tabernacle, with Blessed Michael McGivney carrying the eucharistic bread and chalice on the left and St. Michael the Archangel on the right. Designed by Jesuit Father Marko Ivan Rupnik, it was installed by artists of Centro Aletti in 2005.


6 Knights of Columbus News College Knights Urged to Be Men of Courage and Heroic Virtue • New Columbus Documentary Released • Order Assists Wildfire Victims in Western United States • Knights Pray Novena for the Cause of Life

Miracle for Mikey

The cure that opened the door to Father McGivney’s beatification abounded in grace and K of C ‘coincidences.’ By Andy Telli


A Priest for His People

Father McGivney’s personal relationships reveal his practical leadership and compassionate heart.


A 2016 painting by artist Chas Fagan depicts the Order’s founder, Father Michael J. McGivney, who as of his Oct. 31 beatification, is the Church’s newest Blessed.

ON THE COVER: Photo by David Ottenstein — OTHER: Knights of Columbus Multimedia Archives

By Kevin Coyne


Blessed Michael McGivney: Parish Priest With Global Appeal

As the Knights of Columbus and its charitable work have expanded, so too has devotion to its founder.


‘In Union There Is Strength’

A friend of Father McGivney reflects on his virtues, spiritual genius and vision in founding the Knights of Columbus. By Father James H. O’Donnell


The Art of Holiness

From sculptures to paintings to stained glass, a growing number of Catholic institutions feature artistic representations of Blessed Michael McGivney.

Membership in the Knights of Columbus is open to men 18 years of age or older who are practical (that is, practicing) Catholics in union with the Holy See. This means that an applicant or member accepts the teaching authority of the Catholic Church on matters of faith and morals, aspires to live in accord with the precepts of the Catholic Church, and is in good standing in the Catholic Church. Copyright © 2020 All rights reserved


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Our Founder and Friend I FIRST RECALL hearing the name Michael

McGivney when I applied to the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family in Washington, D.C. Were it not for a scholarship named in his honor, I might not have gone to graduate school. My father was and is a longtime Knight of Columbus, but I was not yet a member and didn’t know that Father McGivney founded the Order. I was simply grateful for the endowment that, at the time, I assumed was from a family named McGivney, whoever they might be. A year after graduating in 2006 and moving back to Michigan to work for a diocese there, I read about a job opening for managing editor of Columbia. Though I had little desire to pick up and move to Connecticut, I had developed a great appreciation of the Knights and felt compelled to apply. Within a couple of months, I was living in New Haven, with St. Mary’s Church as my new parish, and as my first assignment — a feature article on the 10th anniversary of Father McGivney’s cause for canonization. I have since learned much more about Father McGivney’s life, have made frequent visits to his tomb at St. Mary’s and have recited the prayer for his canonization countless times. In so doing, I have come to see him not only as our founder, but also as the same energetic pastor he was in his earthly life, tirelessly looking after his parishioners and his Knights — and even more, as a friend, interceding for me since before I even knew who he was. Such is the beauty of the Body of Christ and the communion of saints, that the faithful who have died remain alive in God and can pray for and befriend us.

In reference to great men and women of salvation history, the Book of Hebrews speaks of our being “surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses” (Heb 12:1). Pope Francis reflects on this in his apostolic exhortation on the call to holiness, Gaudete et Exsultate, and notes, “The saints now in God’s presence preserve their bonds of love and communion with us.” Quoting his predecessor, Benedict XVI, the pope further observes that each of us can say, “All the saints of God are there to protect me, to sustain me and to carry me” (GE, 4). Each year on Nov. 1, All Saints Day, we celebrate this “cloud of witnesses,” which includes not only those who have been beatified or canonized but all who are in heaven. Nonetheless, the Church does, of course, formally recognize some individuals as worthy intercessors and models of holiness. And this year, Knights of Columbus and other Catholics around the world — and indeed, the entire communion of saints — rejoice in Father McGivney being named the Church’s newest “Blessed.” His beatification, celebrated in Hartford, Conn., Oct. 31, is truly a historic moment for the Knights of Columbus and the Church throughout the world. To mark this gracefilled occasion, we present here this commemorative issue of Columbia. It incorporates an updated design and branding and features various articles about Father McGivney’s life and ministry; about the miracle that paved the way for his beatification; and about the growing devotion to this humble yet extraordinary parish priest. Blessed Michael McGivney, pray for us! B Alton J. Pelowski, Editor

Father Michael McGivney: An American Blessed This new film produced by the Knights of Columbus explores Father McGivney’s life and legacy from his humble beginnings as the son of Irish immigrants to his founding of the Order. The 27-minute documentary highlights his witness of fraternal charity and evangelization, and also tells the story of Michael “Mikey” McGivney Schachle, a child with Down syndrome healed in utero from a fatal disease through Father McGivney’s intercession (see page 8). For more information, visit 2

Columbia PUBLISHER Knights of Columbus SUPREME OFFICERS Carl A. Anderson Supreme Knight Most Rev. William E. Lori, S.T.D. Supreme Chaplain Patrick E. Kelly Deputy Supreme Knight Michael J. O’Connor Supreme Secretary Ronald F. Schwarz Supreme Treasurer John A. Marrella Supreme Advocate EDITORIAL Alton J. Pelowski Editor Andrew J. Matt Managing Editor Cecilia Hadley Senior Editor Margaret B. Kelly Associate Editor

Blessed Michael McGivney (1852-90) – Apostle to the Young, Protector of Christian Family Life and Founder of the Knights of Columbus, Intercede for Us. HOW TO REACH US COLUMBIA 1 Columbus Plaza New Haven, CT 06510-3326 Address changes 203-752-4210, option #3 Columbia inquiries 203-752-4398 K of C Customer Service 1-800-380-9995


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A Model Missionary In our Founder’s ministry, we see the spirit of charity and brotherhood to which all missionary disciples are called By Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson AS I WRITE this column we are just days away from the scheduled beatification of our founder, the Venerable Servant of God Michael McGivney. We are also only weeks away from the 30th anniversary of St. John Paul II’s great encyclical on the missionary activity of the Church, Redemptoris Missio. We know that a cause for canonization is not undertaken for the good of the candidate, but for the good of the Church — and, in the case of Father McGivney, for the good of the Knights of Columbus as well. When the Order was founded in the 19th century, the United States was considered mission territory. Today, the anniversary of Redemptoris Missio provides a providential opportunity to better understand the ministry of Father McGivney, who very much had a missionary spirit. We tend to think of missionary activity as directed “over there,” at the peripheries and outside the community of believers. But John Paul II observed that there is also missionary activity “inside” the Church, especially in those nations that once embraced the good news of the Gospel but now no longer do. “In our heavily secularized world, a ‘gradual secularization of salvation’ has taken place” (11). And there is even the scandal of the “counterwitness of believers” (36), which is all too common today. To this, John Paul II proposed a bold response. He said all believers have a duty to undertake missionary activity. All of us are called to be missionaries by the witness of a Christian life which reflects the “radical newness” brought by Christ to each believer. “The first form of witness,” he explained, “is the very life of the missionary, of the Christian family, and of the ecclesial community, which reveal a new way of living” (42). Then, John Paul II wrote something close to the heart of every Knight of Columbus: “The missionary is a person of charity. In order to proclaim to all his brothers and sisters that they are loved by God and are capable of loving, he must show love toward all, giving

his life for his neighbor. The missionary is the ‘universal brother’” (89). Finally, he added, “The Church’s missionary spirituality is a journey towards holiness” (90). All of this brings us back to the beatification of Father McGivney. St. John Paul II’s writing on the missionary mandate of the Church helps us to better understand the spiritual genius of Father McGivney and why he is not only a model parish priest but also a model missionary. Father McGivney’s vision of a practical brotherhood of Catholic men who witness to the faith by living our principles of charity and unity offers men the opportunity to be missionaries in their families, parishes and communities. As I said during our Supreme Convention in August, I believe it is our fraternal strength that is the truly distinctive hallmark of the Knights of Columbus and our charitable work. I am also writing this column only days after Pope Francis issued his encyclical on fraternity, Fratelli Tutti (“Brothers All”). There is much to reflect upon in the pope’s new message on brotherhood. I was especially struck by what he says about the Good Samaritan: “Each day we have to decide whether to be Good Samaritans or indifferent bystanders” (69). I believe that every man who has joined the Knights of Columbus has made his choice to be a Good Samaritan. In his message to the Knights of Columbus Board of Directors last February, Pope Francis said this: “In our world, marked by divisions and inequalities, the generous commitment of your Order to serve all in need offers … an important inspiration to overcome a globalization of indifference and build together a more just and inclusive society.” Let us continue to be, in so many different ways, the witness of that “universal brother” called for by our popes. And as we do so, let us all strive to follow in the footsteps of our blessed founder in the journey toward holiness. Vivat Jesus!

‘All of us are called to be missionaries by the witness of a Christian life which reflects the “radical newness” brought by Christ to each believer.’


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Co-Workers in Christ Father McGivney’s loving, respectful cooperation with his parishioners is a model for both priests and laity By Supreme Chaplain Archbishop William E. Lori YEARS AGO, a fellow priest said to me, “I’m counting the days until the bishop sends me somewhere else.” Only recently ordained, I ventured to ask, “What’s the problem?” He answered, “I really don’t like the folks in my parish. They’re pushy and opinionated.” He added, “They know I want out, and I guess that’s making things harder.” Not exactly a recipe for success! In contrast, consider the generous and loving ministry of Blessed Michael J. McGivney, our beloved founder and an exemplary parish priest. Father McGivney both liked and loved his parishioners. By the dedication of his priestly life, he showed that he truly wanted to be among them. Father McGivney made a tremendous impact by his powerful preaching and reverent celebration of the sacraments, but also by his empathy and respect. He exemplifies the cooperative and loving way we priests should relate to the laity. Father McGivney was, by all accounts, deeply engaged with the parishioners of St. Mary’s Church in New Haven and, later, St. Thomas in Thomaston. He ministered to his people with single-hearted attention and remarkable energy. In organizing plays, baseball games, parish fairs and other activities, he showed that he enjoyed being with his parishioners. Indeed, Father McGivney did not seek to do everything for his parishioners. Rather, he worked with his parishioners, and together, with God’s grace, they created a healthy, vibrant community of faith, worship and service. By working with his parishioners, Father McGivney demonstrated his respect for them and their God-given gifts. This was evident not only with projects and events, but also when families experienced loss and tragedy. I think, for example, of his closeness to the Downes family, who found themselves penniless after the death of their father. He was gracious to rich and poor alike. He also showed respect for his younger parishioners, not only by defending them when they were maligned in an erroneous news account, but also by speaking to them directly 4

about dangers to their faith and morals. Humble, friendly and upbeat, Father McGivney asserted himself when necessary and could be appropriately stern when people’s spiritual welfare was at stake. He respected his people too much to pander to them. But it was in founding the Knights of Columbus that Father McGivney’s pastoral love for his people glowed most brightly. He had witnessed the destitution of widows and their children when fathers died prematurely, often due to industrial accidents. He also saw the need to help the men of his parish strengthen their faith and be better husbands and fathers. From his pastoral concern sprang the Knights of Columbus: a fraternity of men, united in charity, robustly living the faith while providing for their families’ long-term financial security. It was not always smooth sailing. In those first years, Father McGivney encountered criticism as well as division among the Knights themselves. For a time, it appeared his project would fail. But Father McGivney did not crumble or seek to dominate. Instead, he showed real leadership and perseverance by insisting that the Knights of Columbus remain a lay-led organization. In this, he was well ahead of his time — anticipating the call of the Second Vatican Council that the laity take a greater lead in the life of the Church and in transforming society. Then, after a slow start, the Knights of Columbus began to grow rapidly. Father McGivney did not regard this as a moment of vindication or an opportunity to grasp for power and influence. In fact, he did the opposite. He resigned as supreme secretary and retained only his role as chaplain. He did not seek to control the Knights of Columbus but only to keep it true to the mission and Gospel principles upon which he founded the Order: charity and unity, as well as fraternity. Still today, Blessed Michael McGivney relates to us with pastoral love and respect as he intercedes for us and inspires us to embrace our mission anew. B

‘Father McGivney worked with his parishioners, and together, with God’s grace, they created a healthy, vibrant community of faith, worship and service.’


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Supreme Chaplain’s Challenge

Catholic Man of the Month

A monthly reflection and practical challenge from Supreme Chaplain Archbishop William E. Lori

GIORGIO LA PIRA held many jobs — professor, journalist and politician — but he was quick to point out that he had only one vocation. “I am, by the grace of the Lord, a witness to the Gospel,” he once wrote. “My vocation, the only one I have, is all here.” La Pira was born in a small town in Sicily, the oldest of six children. He trained as an accountant and then studied law, first in Messina and later in Florence. At age 20, an experience of grace at Easter Mass led him to consecrate his life to God. He became a Third Order Dominican the following year, but he felt certain he was called to a lay vocation. “The goal of my life is clearly marked out: to be the Lord’s missionary in the world,” he wrote in 1931. La Pira became a law professor, and in 1939 began publishing Principi (Principles), a magazine critical of Italy’s fascist government. Following World War II, he was elected to the Constituent Assembly and participated in drafting Italy’s new constitution, including its articles on the dignity of the person.

“Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Gospel for Nov. 22, Mt 25:40) St. Teresa of Calcutta observed that in the poor we can see Christ in a distressing disguise. Quite frankly, it can be difficult to see Christ in some of those who suffer. But we, by virtue of our baptism, are Christians on a mission: We are called not to ignore those who suffer, but to attend to their physical and spiritual needs. May we, my brother Knights, strive to recognize the face of Christ — however obscured it may seem — in the faces of the poor and suffering around us and respond to them with Christ’s love and compassion.

Venerable Giorgio La Pira (1904-1977)

FROM TOP: Photo courtesy of Fondazione La Pira, CNS photo/KNA, CNS photo/Paul Haring

Liturgical Calendar

Challenge: This month, I challenge you to find a way to directly serve the poor, the sick, the needy or the imprisoned, such as by serving in a soup kitchen. Second, I challenge you to join with your brother Knights in the Faith in Action Food for Families program to help feed the hungry in your midst.

Nov. 1 Nov. 2 Nov. 4 Nov. 9 Nov. 10 Nov. 11 Nov. 12 Nov. 13 Nov. 17 Nov. 21 Nov. 22 Nov. 24 Nov. 30

All Saints The Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (All Souls’ Day) St. Charles Borromeo Dedication of the Lateran Basilica St. Leo the Great St. Martin of Tours St. Josaphat USA: St. Frances Xavier Cabrini St. Elizabeth of Hungary The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe St. Andrew Dũng-Lạc and Companions St. Andrew, Apostle

He served as mayor of Florence from 1951-1957 and again from 19601964. In that office, he oversaw the reconstruction of neighborhoods and infrastructure, but his greatest concern was helping the poor by alleviating unemployment and housing shortages. His own residence consisted of a bare cell of the San Marco monastery, and he gave away most of his income. He continued his political work in the 1960s and ’70s, traveling widely and promoting international peace until his death Nov. 5, 1977. La Pira, who once said that “politics is a commitment of humanity and holiness,” was declared venerable by Pope Francis in July 2018. B

Holy Father’s Monthly Prayer Intention

We pray that the progress of robotics and artificial intelligence may always serve humankind.


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College Knights Urged To Be Men of Courage and Heroic Virtue


From top: Members of Michigan Technological University Council 17237 in Houghton, Mich., on a video call with their former chaplain, Father Dustin Larson, celebrate being named Outstanding College Council. Past Grand Knight Jay Czerniak (center), Grand Knight Jack Hoffman (third from right) and other members gathered outdoors together to watch the College Councils Conference’s opening session and awards ceremony. • Harrison Butker, kicker for the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs and a Knight since 2015, delivers his keynote address.

On the second day of the conference, the college Knights also heard an address from Deputy Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly, who reflected on the lessons of Father Michael McGivney’s life and faithful witness. “The key to Father McGivney’s accomplishments was courage,” he said. “Father McGivney listened closely to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and did as he was called. He didn’t wait. He didn’t hesitate. His model is one that you can make your own.” “You are also called to be a hero,” the deputy supreme knight concluded. “By God’s grace, we can lead lives of heroic virtue and become saints ourselves.” B

TOP: Photo by Stefany Berg

HUNDREDS OF COLLEGE KNIGHTS gathered virtually for the 55th College Councils Conference Sept. 11-12, under the theme “Brothers in the Breach.” Knights from 107 schools across the United States and Canada — a record attendance — heard keynote speeches and attended sessions on leadership, evangelization and council life. “You will face challenges that no other college class has faced,” Supreme Knight Carl Anderson said in his opening address. Problems facing the United States and the world, he added, will be “solved by those who have the strength and the courage to love — not only by what they say, but by what they do.” The supreme knight urged college Knights to continue their charitable witness on their campuses, to “Leave No Neighbor Behind,” and to invite their classmates and friends to become brother Knights. “An even greater challenge,” he concluded, “is given to us by Father McGivney himself — the challenge to live a life of heroic virtue according to the principles of charity, unity and fraternity.” Super Bowl champion Harrison Butker, kicker for the Kansas City Chiefs, likewise issued a challenge to the college Knights. “As this year’s theme, ‘Brothers in the Breach,’ makes clear, you are called to a heroic mission to help bring Christ’s message far and wide,” said Butker, who joined the Order as a student at Georgia Tech University. “Now is the time for you to take up your task, as men of the Church.” The faith is “not something reserved in private and on Sundays in our parishes,” Butker said, “but a mission that transcends all that we do.” “In the end, our vocation can be lived well by the small things. The day after winning the Super Bowl, the garbage still had to be taken out,” he added. “The greatest impact that I will make with my time on this earth is remaining dedicated to my primary vocation — helping my family get to heaven.” The conference’s opening speeches were followed by an awards session recognizing college councils with exemplary programs and growth during the last academic year. The Outstanding College Council Award was presented this year to Michigan Technological University Council 17237 in Houghton, Mich. Though just two years old, the council has grown to become a strong presence on campus. Among other activities, the Knights host a weekly rosary and work with a local group to cut and deliver firewood to residents in need. C O L U M B I A B NOVEMBER 2020

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New Columbus Documentary Released THE KNIGHTS of Columbus has produced a new documentary about its namesake, the Italian explorer who first connected Europe and the Americas. Courage and Conviction: The True Story of Christopher Columbus was first broadcast on Catholic television networks in October and is now available to watch on the Knights of Columbus YouTube channel. Narrated by actor Chazz Palminteri, the 28-minute film draws on expert interviews to accurately examine the life and

legacy of Columbus, and address current indictments against him. “Certainly, mistakes were made under his watch as governor. But now a radical, one-sided narrative says that Columbus represents all that is evil in the American experience,” Supreme Knight Carl Anderson explained. “Simply put, that is false history. Judging Columbus from the perspective of ideology misjudges his motivations and his accomplishments.” The film also explores the origins

Order Assists Wildfire Victims in Western United States IN THE WORST wildfire season on

BOTTOM: Photo by Tom Schaller

record, Knights in the western United States mobilized to provide relief to victims beginning in August. Fires burned more than 8 million acres across the region by mid-October. In California and Oregon, where the fires encroached on densely populated areas, tens of thousands of people were evacuated, and thousands lost homes. State and local councils organized to provide food, water and shelter to evacuees. They also set up staging areas to distribute urgently needed supplies, from tents to work gloves to diapers. The Supreme Council supported these efforts with grants of $185,000 and $100,000 to the Oregon and California

Grand Knight Ed Diehl of St. Anthony Council 2439 in Sublimity, Ore., inspects the damage caused by a fire in Santiam Canyon.

state councils, respectively. Oregon State Deputy Ronald Boyce described meeting a woman who came to the distribution site in Medford after losing her home and all her belongings. “It was a very emotional conversation, and she said she was so happy to see how the Knights of Columbus cared for them and the community,” he recalled. “The only thing I could say was: ‘This is what we do, and we will be praying for you and your family.’” All donations to the Knights of Columbus Disaster Relief Fund directly support the Order’s ongoing relief efforts in response to natural disasters. Visit B

of Columbus Day, together with the symbolic role Columbus has played for Catholic immigrants to the New World, especially Italian Americans. To watch the film, visit knightsofcolumbus. B

Knights Pray Novena for the Cause of Life

MEMBERS of the Knights of Co-

lumbus and their families observed Respect Life Month in October by praying the Orderwide Novena for the Cause of Life. Each day from Oct. 4-12, participants reflected on a short passage from Pope Francis on the sanctity of life, prayed a decade of the rosary, and concluded with a prayer from St. John Paul II’s landmark encyclical Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life). “The cause of life is today’s preeminent priority, as Pope Francis indicated when meeting with the U.S. bishops in January,” Supreme Knight Carl Anderson said about the importance of the novena. “The Knights wish to join all Catholics in prayer with Pope Francis for an end to abortion, euthanasia and the many social ills that bring illness, broken families, unhappiness and premature death, especially for the vulnerable.” B NOVEMBER 2020 B C O L U M B I A

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Photo by Rick Musacchio, courtesy of the Tennessee Register

Michael “Mikey” McGivney Schachle hugs a statue of his namesake in his family’s home. Five years ago, Mikey survived a fatal prenatal diagnosis after his family and others prayed for Father McGivney to intercede. Last May, Pope Francis approved a decree formally recognizing the healing as a miracle.


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MIRACLE FOR MIKEY The cure that opened the door to Father McGivney’s beatification abounded in grace and K of C ‘coincidences’ By Andy Telli


ichael “Mikey” Schachle, 5 years old, climbs onto a stump in the yard of his family’s home in Dickson, Tenn. He takes stock of the short distance to the trampoline below, steps off and lands with a happy bounce, followed by hugs from several of his 12 siblings. It’s a scene that would have been impossible for his parents, Daniel and Michelle Schachle, to imagine when they first learned that their unborn son had a deadly case of fetal hydrops — and zero chance of living. It took a miracle to save Mikey. Last May, Pope Francis formally approved a decree recognizing Mikey’s cure as a miracle attributed to the intercession of Father Michael J. McGivney, founder of the Knights of Columbus. The decree advanced Father McGivney’s cause for sainthood, leading to his beatification Oct. 31. For Daniel Schachle, a past grand knight of St. Mary’s Mission Council 8083 in Savannah, Tenn., and a Knights of Columbus general agent, the miracle that saved his son’s life is both utterly mysterious and beautifully fitting. “I don’t know why God chose Michael,” he said, noting that many people praying for a miracle do not receive one. “I’m grateful for his mercy that he did.” At the same time, Daniel marvels at how Mikey’s miracle reflects the work of the Order that Father McGivney founded. “I look at Father McGivney, and I look at what the Knights of Columbus does for special needs children, for the pro-life cause,” he said. “If there was ever a baby Father McGivney would want to help, this is who it would be.”


The Schachles like to tell people they met in prison. In the mid-1990s, Michelle was a single mother with twin daughters working in an office at the correctional facility where Daniel was working as a guard. Their friendship blossomed into a romance; they were married in 1997, and Daniel soon adopted Michelle’s 4-year-old girls. Michelle converted to Catholicism and entered the Church on their wedding day. “At first, I kind of struggled with Mary, which is funny to me now,” said Michelle, noting that her family is consecrated to the Blessed Virgin. Praying to saints was another aspect of the Catholic faith that was initially difficult for her to accept. “It just seemed to be wrong to go through anybody but Jesus,” she said. One part of Catholic teaching that Michelle had no trouble accepting was respect for life. “When I became Catholic, right to life was something I could grab on to,” she said. Over time, Michelle fully embraced all the Church’s teachings and devotions, and they became a lifeline when she needed them most. She and Daniel did not plan on having such a big family, but over the years, Michelle explained, “We said yes to God, one at time.” Late in 2014, Michelle became pregnant with their 13th child. On New Year’s Eve, she received an ultrasound exam, and doctors found markers indicating the child had Down syndrome. “That didn’t matter to us,” Daniel said. “It’s actually a gift to our family.” NOVEMBER 2020 B C O L U M B I A

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The diagnosis came just as Daniel and Michelle were preparing to go on a Knights of Columbus pilgrimage to Fatima, Portugal, in March 2015. A special incentive trip for high-performing agents, it also included visits to the Vatican and Madrid. Before leaving, Daniel and Michelle sent out email messages to as many people as they could, asking them to pray for the intercession of Father McGivney to save their son. “I prayed, ‘Please, Father McGivney, let him be the miracle,’” Michelle said. “I went from ‘How will I take care of a child with Down syndrome?’ to ‘Please God, I want a child with Down syndrome.’ I had hope.” The Schachles prayed throughout the pilgrimage for Father McGivney’s intercession, and priests in Rome and in their home parish offered Masses for them. But it was a Mass in Fatima on March 16 that left the most powerful impression. The Gospel reading for the day was John 4:43-54 — the story of the official who asked Jesus to heal his son. Two verses read: “The royal official said to him, ‘Sir, come down before my child dies.’ Jesus said to him, ‘You may go; your son will live.’ The man believed what Jesus said to him and left.” “We both looked at each other with our mouths open,” Daniel recalled. “It was surreal.” Four days after the Schachles returned from the pilgrimage, Michelle went back to the doctor’s office for an ultrasound. “I was pretty scared,” she said. “The technician kept looking and looking; she was taking a long time.” Eventually, she showed Michelle a sonogram of the baby’s face with none of the swelling and fluid buildup

Photos courtesy of the Schachle Family

But the doctors saw other troubling signs and sent Michelle for more tests. On Feb. 25, 2015, the doctors delivered the news. The baby had a severe case of fetal hydrops, a life-threatening condition involving an abnormal buildup of fluids in the tissue around the lungs, heart or abdomen, or under the skin. Daniel pressed a doctor for a percentage on the chances their son would live. “She finally said, ‘I’ve been doing this for 30 years, and I’ve never seen anybody survive.’” In their bedroom that night, Michelle wept inconsolably, but “Dan was quiet for a moment,” she recalled. “He looked at me and said, ‘I just prayed that if Father McGivney saves him, I’m naming him Michael.’” Daniel had been praying for Father McGivney’s intercession for many years, starting when he was looking for a career change and landed on the possibility of becoming a Knights of Columbus field agent. “The last thing I ever imagined myself being was a life insurance agent,” admitted Daniel, a Knight since 1994. “But once I read about Father McGivney, it was really eye-opening to me. It was love of widows and orphans that drove him to start the Knights of Columbus.” Daniel is now the general agent for Tennessee, Kentucky and the eastern half of Arkansas, overseeing the work of 16 field agents. “We are the stewards of Father McGivney’s vision,” said Daniel, who sees his work as a ministry. So, it was natural for Daniel to seek the intercession of Father McGivney. “It was like just going to one of your friends and saying, ‘Pray for me,’” he said. C O L U M B I A B NOVEMBER 2020

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Photo by Spirit Juice Studios

Above: Dan and Michelle Schachle are pictured with seven of their 13 children, including Mikey, outside of their Tennessee home. • Opposite page, from left: Newborn Mikey Schachle sleeps beside a Father Michael McGivney prayer card and a chaplet. • Michelle Schachle holds baby Mikey in her arms.

that had been so apparent on the last ultrasound. “This is the prettiest baby I’ve ever seen,” she told Michelle. Dr. Mary-Anne Carroll, a member of the practice whom Michelle had not yet met, then arrived to discuss the ultrasound. “She started talking about this and that, about what we’re going to do when the baby is born,” Michelle remembered. “I said, ‘What about the fluid in the lungs?’ She replied, ‘A lot of babies have a little fluid in the lungs.’ “Wait a minute,” Michelle said. “I was told there was no hope.” Only then did Dr. Carroll realize that Michelle and her baby were the patients she had heard about from her colleagues. She consulted with the other doctors in the practice, who confirmed that the baby was no longer showing any signs of fetal hydrops. The doctors made an extensive search for a reversible

cause of the hydrops that would explain its disappearance, but found nothing. “It was just there and then it was gone,” Michelle said. But Mikey and Michelle weren’t completely out of the woods. Doctors were worried that the blood flow through the umbilical cord was restricted. On May 15, 2015, week 31 of her pregnancy, they told her, “We have to do the C-section today.” Daniel was in San Antonio for a business meeting, but Michelle was not worried. “I felt completely at peace,” she said. Michael McGivney Schachle was born May 15, 2015, weighing just 3 pounds, 4 ounces. “Michael was perfect just the way he was,” said Michelle. Mikey did, however, still face serious health issues. Like many babies born with Down syndrome, he had a heart condition that required surgery, which was performed seven weeks after he was born. NOVEMBER 2020 B C O L U M B I A

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Daniel told staff at the Knights of Columbus headquarters in New Haven, Conn., about Mikey, which eventually led to a formal inquiry into the case. The Diocese of Nashville convened a tribunal in 2016 to investigate and gather facts by interviewing the Schachles and all the doctors involved. “It was like being deposed,” Daniel said of the process. The investigation focused on determining two things: that what occurred was indeed a miracle — an extraordinary event that has no current scientific or medical explanation — and that the prayers to save Mikey’s life were directed specifically to Father McGivney. For example, the tribunal asked the Schachles how they knew the cure could be attributed to Father McGivney’s intercession and not that of Our Lady of Fatima. Dan and Michelle recounted how they specifically prayed for the intercession of Father McGivney and asked many others to do the same. “How can you look at this and not know it was Father McGivney? There are so many coincidences,” said Daniel, as he began to tick off a list: Mikey was born on May 15, the same date in 1882 that the first Knights of Columbus council was chartered; Michelle and Father McGivney share a birthday, Aug. 12; Father McGivney was the oldest of 13 children, and Mikey is the youngest of 13. “Everything that the Knights stand for — all of those things are in our story,” added Michelle, noting the Order’s work to respect life at all its stages; its support for people with intellectual and developmental

disabilities; and its support of families. Members of the tribunal also inquired why the Schachles didn’t pray their son would be cured of Down syndrome as well. “Why would we have asked for that?” Daniel asked in response. “God made him that way. I’m good with that.” After the diocesan tribunal completed its report, the postulator of Father McGivney’s sainthood cause in Rome submitted it to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints for its review. A panel of physicians examined the medical record, and a panel of theologians examined the spiritual record of the case before making a recommendation for the pope’s approval. The Schachles were confident that Mikey’s cure would be declared a miracle. “We never had any doubts,” Daniel said. And on May 26, it was. “We know this isn’t anything we’ve done,” Daniel added. “I could never deserve what God has done for us.” Today, Mikey’s health problems are under control and he is an active 5-year-old. “We have Michael,” Michelle said. “Michael’s life has changed our life.” “It helped our family not take the faith for granted,” Daniel explained. “It’s very real to us now that we are the sons and daughters of a very loving Father.” B ANDY TELLI is managing editor of the Tennessee Register and a member of Bishop Alphonse J. Smith Council 3763 in Madison, Tenn. An extended version of this article originally appeared in the Tennessee Register, the newspaper of the Diocese of Nashville.

Join Our Founder’s Cause PROMOTE BLESSED MICHAEL MCGIVNEY’S cause for canonization by joining the Father Michael J. McGivney Guild. Established in 1997 after the cause was formally opened, the Guild spreads devotion to the founder of the Knights of Columbus, receives and publishes reports of favors received through his intercession, and preserves and distributes relics of this blessed servant of God. Membership in the Guild is free and open to anyone who is devoted to Father McGivney. Members receive a quarterly newsletter about his life and spirituality and can request a prayer card with a 12

third-class relic. They are also remembered in a weekly Mass offered for their intentions. Most importantly, the Guild plays an active role in the cause by praying for Father McGivney’s intercession in times of need, especially in cases of serious illness. Since one more confirmed miracle is needed for Father McGivney to be canonized a saint, the Guild encourages people to recite regularly the prayer for canonization and to report any favors received. To learn more about the Father Michael J. McGivney Guild and how you can spread devotion to this model parish priest, visit


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Father Michael J. McGivney’s Cause for Canonization

Milestones 1. Cause Opens

Dec. 18, 1997 — Father McGivney’s cause for sainthood is officially opened by Archbishop Daniel A. Cronin of Hartford. Father McGivney is given the title “Servant of God.”

2. Diocesan Review


March 6, 2000 — The diocesan investigation into Father McGivney’s life, holiness and virtues closes.

3. Positio Submitted to Rome

May 2002 — A 1,000-page document (Positio) laying out the case for Father McGivney’s cause is presented to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints at the Vatican.

4. St. John Paul II

NOS. 4 AND 9: L’Osservatore Romano — NO. 7: AP Photo/Vincenzo Pinto, Pool

Commends K of C and Founder

October 2003 — In a message to the Knights of Columbus, St. John Paul II praises the Order and its founder: “In fidelity to the vision of Father McGivney, may you continue to seek new ways of being a leaven of the Gospel in the world and a spiritual force for the renewal of the Church in holiness, unity and truth.”

5. Biography Published

July 2006 — Parish Priest: Father McGivney and American Catholicism, a biography by historians Douglas Brinkley and Julie Fenster, is published by William Morrow/Harper Collins.

10. Miracle Approved

for Beatification

May 27, 2020 — After extensive medical and theological reviews, the Holy See announces that Pope Francis has authorized a decree regarding a miracle attributed to the intercession of Father McGivney, opening the way for his beatification Oct. 31.

9. Pope Francis Praises

Father McGivney’s Vision

Feb. 10, 2020 — Pope Francis tells the K of C Board of Directors that the Order has been faithful “to the vision of your founder, Venerable Michael McGivney, who was inspired by the principles of Christian charity and fraternity to assist those most in need.” Supreme Chaplain Archbishop William Lori presents Pope Francis with a copy of Parish Priest in Italian.

8. Miracle Investigated

September 2017 — Results of an investigation into a possible miracle attributed to the intercession of Father McGivney are sent to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

7. Pope Benedict XVI Cites

‘Exemplary American Priest’

April 19, 2008 — During his visit to St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, Pope Benedict XVI cites the “remarkable accomplishment of that exemplary American priest, the Venerable Michael McGivney, whose vision and zeal led to the establishment of the Knights of Columbus.”

6. Declared Venerable

March 15, 2008 — Confirming Father McGivney’s heroic virtue, Pope Benedict XVI declares him a “Venerable Servant of God.” The decree states, in part, “Concerning the theological virtues of Faith, Hope, and Love both toward God and neighbor … they existed to a heroic degree in the Servant of God Michael McGivney, Diocesan Priest and Founder of the Fraternal Order the Knights of Columbus.” NOVEMBER 2020 B C O L U M B I A




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A PRIEST FOR HIS PEOPLE Father McGivney’s personal relationships reveal his practical leadership and compassionate heart By Kevin Coyne

This photograph of Father Michael J. McGivney seated in a rectory setting circa 1880 is attributed to the New Haven photography studio of John J. Tierney, a parishioner at St. Mary’s Church and a member of San Salvador Council 1.

Knights of Columbus Multimedia Archives


n a Monday morning in February 1882, Father Michael McGivney left St. Mary’s rectory and headed south. The 29-year-old priest made his way through streets still covered with the foot of snow that had blanketed New Haven over the weekend. He was on a mission to help one of the parish’s families and was due at probate court. Edward Downes Sr., the father of 14 children, had died a few weeks earlier at age 52, and his widow was required to show that she could support the children who were still minors. The court ruled that guardians were needed for the three teenage Downes boys, who otherwise might be placed in public institutions. Relatives cobbled together bonds of $2,500 to assume guardianship of two of the boys, George and Joseph, but that still left their brother Alfred. Father McGivney, who was close to the Downes family, had no money to offer — just his character and his faith. These were enough to convince another man, a local grocer, to

sign a $1,500 bond. On Feb. 6, 1882, the court appointed the priest as Alfred’s guardian. “His intervention enabled Alfred Downes to remain with his family and one day to go on to graduate from Yale Law School,” explained Supreme Knight Carl Anderson in the new documentary film Father Michael McGivney: An American Blessed. “This is a pivotal moment in the life of Father McGivney. He had lost his own father and had seen the financial and emotional cost to his own family. Now, he is able to make a tremendous difference in the life of another family.” The big ideas in Father McGivney’s life came out of small human encounters; the public plans he envisioned were rooted in personal relationships. He walked fast but spoke slowly, in a voice so clear and pleasant that an old blind man, not even Catholic himself, came to Mass each Sunday just to hear it. In his three years at St. Mary’s, Father McGivney had become “a great favorite with the people,” and was particularly popular “with the NOVEMBER 2020 B C O L U M B I A

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energetic, pushing, go-ahead young men” of the city. Thus wrote two founding members of the Knights of Columbus — William Geary and Cornelius Driscoll, the nephew of the grocer who backed the guardianship of Alfred Downes — in an unpublished memoir. The friendships that Father McGivney forged with these men and many other individuals — rich and poor, Catholic and non-Catholic alike — were a hallmark of his ministry and his legacy. FATHER TO HIS PARISH

Father McGivney tirelessly celebrated the sacraments with his parishioners, but was not the kind of priest who believed his ministry ended with the Mass. He organized picnics for the parish with horse races and baseball games. (He had

played left field himself in the seminary.) He turned St. Mary’s moribund temperance league into a lively group that filled the Music Hall in New Haven for a theatrical production on St. Patrick’s Day. Father McGivney no doubt saw in parish families like the Downeses something of his own — a large Irish clan with an abundance of faith and devotion to each other. His parents, Patrick and Mary McGivney, had immigrated to Connecticut from Ireland; they had 13 children, seven of whom survived to adulthood. Michael was the eldest, and when his father, an iron molder at a brass factory in Waterbury, died at age 48, he had to cut short his seminary studies in Montreal. Only the generous intervention of his bishop allowed him to resume

Key Moments in the Life and Ministry of Blessed Michael McGivney Aug. 12, 1852 — Michael Joseph McGivney is born in Waterbury, Conn., the first child of Mary (Lynch) and Patrick McGivney, immigrants from Ireland. Aug. 19, 1852 — Michael is baptized in St. Peter’s Church in Waterbury. 1857 — Construction begins on Immaculate Conception Church, which becomes the McGivney family’s parish.

1865 — Michael graduates at age 13. He senses he has a vocation to the priesthood but lacks his father’s approval. He takes a job in a local brass spoon factory to help support the growing family. 16

From top: Michael McGivney’s childhood home • Illustration of Holmes, Booth & Haydens Brass Works, Waterbury, Conn. • 13-year-old Michael McGivney (lower left) pictured with his graduating class

Knights of Columbus Multimedia Archives

1859 — Michael enters East Main Street School, where he is advanced several grades and is noted for “excellent deportment and proficiency in his studies.”


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McGIVNEY: Courtesy of Associated Archives at St. Mary’s Seminary & University — OUR LADY OF ANGELS SEMINARY: Niagara University — OTHER: Knights of Columbus Multimedia Archives

his studies for the priesthood in Baltimore. Nearly a decade later, Father McGivney was able to advocate for the Downes family when it was most vulnerable. And he wanted to help not just his parishioners, but all Catholic families, on a scale greater than he could accomplish alone. He had already been meeting with some men of the parish to discuss his idea for a new kind of Catholic fraternal organization that would offer them solidarity, both spiritual and material, in the face of a world whose harshness he and his own family had felt. A month after that February day in court, the Knights of

Cornelius Driscoll

Columbus was officially incorporated. Among the Order’s first members was Cornelius Driscoll. Seven years older than the priest who came to be his close friend, Driscoll embodied the rising immigrant story that Father McGivney hoped would be a model for other new Americans. Just a boy of 5 when he arrived in Connecticut with his parents from Ireland, Driscoll had graduated from Yale College and Yale Law School and was serving as a New Haven alderman when he met Father McGivney. One of the early meetings that led to the formation of the Knights was held at Driscoll’s law

1868 — The pastor of Immaculate Conception, Father Thomas Hendricken, encourages Michael’s vocation. Now with his father’s consent, Michael travels with other young men from the diocese to the seminary college of Saint-Hyacinthe in Québec, where he studies for two years. 1871-72 — Michael continues preparation for the priesthood with the Vincentian Fathers at Our Lady of Angels Seminary in Niagara Falls, N.Y. He receives honorable mention in five subjects, including Greek, Latin, translation, algebra and composition, and also plays on the school’s baseball team. 1872-73 — Michael studies at the Jesuit-run Sainte-Marie College in Montreal. June 6, 1873 — Patrick McGivney dies, and Michael returns to Waterbury for the funeral without taking final exams. As the eldest son, now 20 years old, he is expected to support the family, which could no longer afford seminary tuition. September 1873 — Bishop Francis McFarland of Hartford secures funding for Michael’s theological studies at St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore, under the guidance of the Sulpician Fathers. In his final four years of formation, Michael serves as sacristan of the seminary.

From top: Michael McGivney during his studies in Baltimore, circa 1877 • Saint-Hyacinthe Seminary in Québec • Illustration of Our Lady of Angels Seminary in Niagara Falls, N.Y. NOVEMBER 2020 B C O L U M B I A

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It wasn’t just the professional men of the city with whom Father McGivney engaged. He made regular pastoral rounds to the New Haven jail, and in 1882, he grew especially close to James “Chip” Smith, a prisoner awaiting execution for the murder of a police chief. Behind bars, locked away from the alcohol that had fueled his worst moments, Smith became a different person — thoughtful, kind and devout. In Smith’s jailhouse transformation, Father McGivney saw his fondest hopes for a whole generation of brawling, drinking young men of immigrant stock. Here was proof that, with the right spiritual guidance, even the hardest characters might soften

and find their way back to the Church. McGivney visited daily as the summer wore on and the gallows neared. On the last Sunday of August, five days before the execution, he celebrated a High Mass for Smith at the jail. “I am requested by Mr. Smith to ask pardon for all faults he may have had and all offenses he may have committed, and at his request I ask for the prayers of all of you, that when next Friday comes he may die a holy death,” Father McGivney said at the end of the Mass, his voice breaking. He then asked for prayers for everyone who would be part of the execution, himself included. “To me this duty comes with an almost crushing weight. If I could consistently with my duty be far away from here next Friday I should escape perhaps the most trying ordeal of my life, but this sad duty

Dec. 22, 1877 — Archbishop (later Cardinal) James Gibbons of Baltimore ordains Michael McGivney in the nation’s first cathedral.

Left: Father McGivney’s home parish, Immaculate Conception in Waterbury, circa late 1880s (a new church, now a basilica, was later dedicated in 1928)

Dec. 25, 1877 — Father McGivney celebrates his first solemn Mass in his home parish of Immaculate Conception, Waterbury, with his widowed mother and other family members present.

Lower left: Cardinal James Gibbons, archbishop of Baltimore (1834-1921)

January 1878 — He begins his ministry as associate pastor of St. Mary’s Church in New Haven. With the pastor ailing, Father McGivney does not take even one day off for the first year of his priesthood. Oct. 2, 1881 — He gathers about 80 of New Haven’s accomplished Catholic men to discuss plans for a Catholic fraternal society that would provide a death benefit to deceased members’ families. Feb. 2, 1882 — He chairs a committee meeting that resolves to form “a purely original organization” to be called the Knights of Columbus. William Geary, a charter member, later notes that they acclaimed Father McGivney as their Founder “with hearts full of joy and thanksgiving, recognizing that without his optimism, his will to succeed, his counsel and advice, they would have failed.” 18

Below: Mention of the first meeting of the Knights of Columbus in the Feb. 8, 1882, edition of the New Haven Morning Journal and Courier

CLOCKWISE, FROM TOP: Courtesy of the Mattatuck Museum — Knights of Columbus Multimedia Archives — Library of Congress

office next to City Hall, and he would go on to serve as the Order’s first supreme advocate.


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is placed in my way by Providence and must be fulfilled.” On the morning of the execution, a day of leaden skies and misty rain, Father McGivney celebrated Mass for Smith in a temporary chapel at the jail, crowded with nuns, altar boys and a choir. A soloist sang the hymn Smith requested, his favorite: “O Sacred Heart.” McGivney walked behind as Smith was led into the courtyard and climbed to the gallows. After saying some final prayers and blessing Smith with holy water, Father McGivney watched as the noose was placed over Smith’s head. Then the priest, who had tended Smith’s soul with

more care than almost anyone else in his short life, approached him, spoke some parting words and kissed him on the cheek. Minutes later, Chip Smith departed this world without a struggle. When the doctor opened his coat and vest to check that his heart had stopped, he found pinned to his shirt a Sacred Heart badge. SPIRITUAL FRIEND AND ADVISOR

James “Chip” Smith 1882 sketch

In the months after Smith’s death, Father McGivney nurtured a seed of faith in another seemingly unlikely soul: Alida Harwood, the daughter of a prominent Episcopal clergyman. Drawn to Catholicism, she began attending Mass

Feb. 6, 1882 — Father McGivney appears in New Haven probate court to vouch financial support for Alfred Downes after the death of his father, allowing the teenager to stay with his family.

TOP: New Haven Evening Register, Sept. 19, 1882 — RIGHT: Photo by John J. Tierney/Knights of Columbus Multimedia Archives

March 29, 1882 — The charter for the Knights of Columbus is approved by the state of Connecticut, a date celebrated annually as Founder’s Day. April 3, 1882 — The first induction ceremony is held. Father McGivney writes to Connecticut priests about the new Order, which takes “Unity and Charity” as its motto, and its objectives: to prevent Catholic men from entering secret societies, to unite men of faith and to provide financial assistance to families of deceased members. May 15, 1882 — The first Knights of Columbus council is formed; it is named San Salvador Council after the first New World island discovered by Christopher Columbus.

An undated photo of Father McGivney (bottom, second from right) and 37 other priests NOVEMBER 2020 B C O L U M B I A

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at St. Mary’s, where she found in McGivney what one account described as “a firm spiritual friend and advisor.” Her father, Dr. Edwin Harwood — the rector of Trinity Church on the New Haven Green — did not approve. He packed Alida off with her mother and sister to Europe one summer and to Maine the next. His plan didn’t work: She entered the Catholic Church, but before she could enter a convent, as she desired, she was felled by malaria at just 25. Her deathbed wish was for Father McGivney to come and pray for her and administer the last rites. After Alida’s death, her parents asked Father McGivney to return to New Haven from the parish in Thomaston, Conn., where he was then pastor. Sensitive to her family’s grief and position, he did not object to their plans for an Episco-

May 1886 — Father McGivney assumes pastoral care of Immaculate Conception Church in Terryville as well, which requires him to travel 4 miles each way by carriage to offer Sunday Mass at both churches. 20

Knights of Columbus Multimedia Archives

Nov. 5, 1884 — Father McGivney is reassigned to serve as pastor of St. Thomas Church in Thomaston, 20 miles north of New Haven. At a going-away gathering a few days later, he speaks from the heart to his St. Mary’s parishioners: “I have been with you for seven long years, visiting your sick and guiding the steps of your children in the paths in which they should go. Wherever I go, the memory of the people of St. Mary’s and their great kindness to me will always be uppermost in my heart.” Reporting that people wept in the pews, a New Haven newspaper noted, “Never, it seemed, was a congregation so affected by the parting address of a clergyman as the great audience which filled St. Mary’s yesterday. There was never a more energetic or hardworking young priest stationed in New Haven than he.”

In a scene from He Was Our Father by Dominican Father Peter John Cameron, Father McGivney approaches the scaffold where Chip Smith awaits execution. Actors from the Blackfriars Repertory Theatre Company performed the play Aug. 1, 2005, at the 123rd Supreme Convention in Chicago.

St. Mary’s Church in New Haven (left) and St. Thomas Church in Thomaston in the 1880s

LOWER LEFT: Photo by Da Silva — LOWER RIGHT: Photo by E. J. Kilmer

Sept. 1, 1882 — After months of pastoral visits to James “Chip” Smith — imprisoned for killing a police officer while drunk — Father McGivney prays with the condemned man on the morning of his execution.

pal service. But before the funeral, he came to the Trinity rectory, where, according to one account, “with a voice that almost trembled with the grief he felt for the dead, he read the mournful Latin prayers for the repose of the soul of the fair creature in the casket before him.” Father McGivney himself died just five years after Alida, but his influence continued long after — both in the Order he founded and the personal relationships he had tended in his life. Alfred Downes attended Yale Law School, wrote for The New York Times and later served as a top advisor to the mayor of New York City and secretary of the New York City Fire Department. Cornelius Driscoll became the first Catholic mayor of New Haven; when he died in 1931, he was the


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Father Patrick J. McGivney (left) and Father John J. McGivney followed their older brother’s lead, each becoming priests and serving as supreme chaplain of the Knights of Columbus.

last survivor of the original 11 incorporators of the Knights of Columbus. Father McGivney’s two younger brothers, Patrick and John, both became priests, and both served as supreme chaplain. When John died in 1939, he was succeeded by his nephew, Msgr. Leo Finn, who served until 1960 — the year another Knight was elected the first Catholic president of the United States. The Knight of Columbus has since grown to 2 million men around the world, and they continue to find inspiration in their founder’s vision and personal witness. B KEVIN COYNE is a professor at the Columbia School of Journalism. He lives in Freehold, N.J., with his family.

Dec. 8, 1888 — His mother, Mary, dies on the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.

ABOVE RIGHT: Donnelly Studio/Knights of Columbus Multimedia Archives — OTHER: Knights of Columbus Multimedia Archives

December 1889 — Father McGivney falls ill during the “Russian flu” or “Asian flu” pandemic. Father McGivney eventually develops pneumonia, and despite medical care and rest, he remains sick and weak through the spring and into the summer. August 1890 — Confined to bed in the St. Thomas rectory, Father McGivney assures his parishioners of his prayers and sacrifices for their spiritual welfare and receives the last rites. Aug. 14, 1890 — Father McGivney dies in the rectory, two days after his 38th birthday. The cause of his death is recorded as pulmonary tuberculosis. Aug. 18, 1890 — Mourners at Father McGivney’s funeral Mass overflow from St. Thomas Church. His body is brought to Waterbury for burial, where it is met by the largest funeral procession the city had ever seen. Among those gathered at the family plot in St. Joseph Cemetery are the bishop of Hartford, priests of Connecticut and many representatives of the Knights of Columbus, which has grown to 6,000 members. B

Above: Knights of Columbus leaders attend the 1897 Supreme Convention in New Haven. Among them are four men who would serve as supreme knight — John J. Phelan, James E. Hayes, John J. Cone and Edward L. Hearn. Left: Supreme Advocate Luke E. Hart, Supreme Knight John E. Swift and Supreme Chaplain Msgr. Leo Finn (Father McGivney’s nephew) lay a wreath at the McGivney family gravesite in Waterbury during a Knights of Columbus pilgrimage June 21, 1947.


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Blessed Michael McGivney:

Parish Priest With

Global Appeal As the Knights of Columbus and its charitable work have expanded, so too has devotion to its founder


Opposite page, from left: Father Jesús Valencia, chaplain of Father Ignacio Orozco Council 16761 in the town of Chavinda, in western Mexico, joins his brother Knights to bless a tapestry depicting Father McGivney and Our Lady of Guadalupe. • Knights in Radom, Poland, carry a portrait of Father McGivney to lead a procession during a men’s rosary event, organized monthly by the state council. 22


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Photo by Jaime Amezcua

Left: Knights carry a statue of Father McGivney in procession at Manila’s San Augustin Church following the opening Mass of the 9th Philippine National Convention in 2012.

UGANDA: Photo courtesy of Apostles of Jesus — MEXICO: Photo by Jaime Amezcua — POLAND: Photo by Marcin Jończyk

n his 13 years of ministry, Father Michael J. McGivney served in two Connecticut parishes and a mission church, all within 25 miles of his birthplace. Now, 130 years after his death, he is known and venerated throughout the world. Knights of Columbus, their families and Catholics from nearly every continent recognize in him a holy example of faith and the universal principles that he taught — charity, unity, fraternity and patriotism. They honor his memory, ask for his intercession and pray that now-Blessed Michael McGivney will soon be canonized what they believe him to be — a saint. B

Photo by Jaime Amezcua

Students at the Marengoni Primary School in Uganda hold up prayer cards featuring the prayer for the canonization of Father McGivney. Through sponsorship from the Knights of Columbus, the Apostles of Jesus began construction on the school in 2012 to serve children orphaned by AIDS.


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BOTTOM, LEFT TO RIGHT: Photo by Jake Wright, Photo by Geoff Reed, Photo by Marcos Valdés



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ABOVE, LEFT TO RIGHT: Photo by Tamino Petelinšek, Photo by Spirit Juice Studios

Clockwise, from opposite page: Members of St. Louis King of France Council 16501 in Saint-Cyr-sur-Mer — the first council in France — are pictured with a banner of Father McGivney after their monthly communal Mass. The golden replica of the Statue of Liberty, which stands in the town square, was donated to Saint-Cyr-sur-Mer by sculptor Frédéric Bartholdi, who also designed the original. • During Supreme Knight Carl Anderson’s visit to Erbil, Iraq, in March 2019, Archbishop Bashar Warda blesses an image of Father McGivney for the chapel at the new McGivney House. The apartment building, constructed by the Chaldean Catholic Archeparchy with support from the Order, provides housing for families who were displaced by Islamic State militants. • Jeffrey Rentegrado leads the rosary with fellow members of Davila Council 14302 in Pasuquin, Luzon, Philippines. Rentegrado, who was shot 13 times in a 2009 attack, attributes his survival to the intercession of Father McGivney. • Members of La Sagrada Familia Council 15570 in Querétaro, Mexico, pray the rosary in front of a statue of Father McGivney outside the Chapel of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The stone statue was dedicated on Founder’s Day, March 29, 2019, after a Mass of thanksgiving. • Members of Our Lady of Lourdes Council 11809 in Sun City West, Ariz., say a prayer at a statue of Father McGivney in the courtyard of Prince of Peace Church. The council donated the statue to the parish after several years of fundraising. • A young family visits the Venerable Father Michael J. McGivney Honoris (place of honor) at St. Patrick’s Basilica in Ottawa, Ontario.


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‘In Union There Is Strength’ A friend of Father McGivney reflects on his virtues, spiritual genius and vision in founding the Knights of Columbus By Father James H. O’Donnell

Photo by Christopher Beauchamp

The Knights of Columbus erected this statue of Father McGivney, near the center of his hometown of Waterbury, Conn., to commemorate the Order’s 75th anniversary. At the March 1957 dedication, Supreme Knight Luke Hart said, “May this monument long stand as an eloquent witness to the enduring respect, gratitude and affection in which we hold our priestly benefactor and Founder.”



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Editor’s Note: The first major pilgrimage to Father McGivney’s gravesite took place June 10, 1900. Thousands of people, including hundreds of Knights and their families from throughout Connecticut and New York, gathered in Waterbury, Conn., for a special “Knights of Columbus Day” in Father McGivney’s honor. The pilgrimage began with a solemn high Mass at the Church of the Immaculate Conception; his brothers, Father Patrick J. McGivney and Father John J. McGivney — both of whom would later serve as supreme chaplain — celebrated and served as sub-deacon, respectively. Following Mass, a huge procession walked 1.5 miles from the church to St. Joseph Cemetery, where Father James H. O’Donnell, a longtime friend of Father McGivney and chaplain of Hendricken Council 36 in Waterbury, delivered remarks at the McGivney family gravesite. The following text is abridged from Father O’Donnell’s address, which was published the next day in the Waterbury Democrat.

has bequeathed to society an organization whose merits shine resplendent and whose devotion to the Church is one of its pronounced characteristics; an organization rich in deeds that have evoked the heartfelt benisons of numberless widows and orphans; an organization faithful to its high ideals and to the spirit infused into it by its founder; successful in the past; prosperous and progressive in the present; a glorious future in prospect; in a word, an organization whose unwritten motto is “Excelsior,” and which is destined, we would fondly believe, to make still greater conquests in the field of philanthropy. THE SPIRIT OF OUR FOUNDER

Well shall it be with the Knights of Columbus as an Order, if its individual members possess the spirit that dominated its founder. Genial, approachable, of kindly disposition, cheerful under reverses, profoundly sympathetic with those upon whom had fallen the heavy hand of affliction, a man of strict probity and sterling integrity in his business transactions. He was charitable ou are come from your cherto a fault, if I may so speak. The poor ished homes to pay homage found in him a Good Samaritan, and today to the memory of a dewere frequent recipients of his bounparted priest, whose name is inseparably ty. In time, the years spent by Father linked with the splendid organization of McGivney in the sacred ministry were which it is our privilege to be members. replete with deeds that honor his name You are come hither to gather about the and are now, no doubt, the brightest grave of your founder and to place upon jewels in the crown he has received from his tomb tributes, which bear silent but the just Judge. eloquent testimony to the affectionate There are few clergymen in my recolremembrance in which you hold him — lection who enjoyed in a greater degree as true a priest as ever received the charthan he the respect of his colleagues acter, as loyal a citizen as ever obeyed and the reverence of the people. His the laws, as stanch a friend as ever life was an open book, whose pages all honored another with his friendship. might read, and the influences that radiYour pilgrimage to the spot hallowed by ated from his active, energetic and zealthe dust of this anointed representative ous personality, brought many a poor of Christ presages a still more glorious future for the Order, which his genius A souvenir edition of the Waterbury Democrat, wanderer to the house of God, back to the faith of his childhood, and to brought into existence. It bespeaks your dated June 9, 1900, announces “K. of C. unwavering adherence to the principles Memorial Day,” the following day’s pilgrimage the sacred tribunal of penance. Father McGivney was nothing if not active. which underlie our organization. to the gravesite of Father Michael McGivney. His energy was restless, ever seeking These principles ever animated Father Father James H. O’Donnell (top right) was the new outlets, and to this disposition are McGivney and regulated his life. You “orator of the day,” and his remarks, repubwe indebted for the existence of the will, we believe, carry hence to your lished here, appeared in the June 11 edition. Knights of Columbus. homes the influences that are enshrined Father McGivney had unbounded about this grave, influences that are vital, faith in the saving graces dispensed by Holy Church. He was potent, far-reaching, ennobling; influences that survive from cognizant of the efficacy of those divine splendors of the a life unselfishly given to the service of others, a life spent Church, the sacraments, to spiritualize his fellow men of good in the promotion of his neighbors’ welfare, a life redolent of will and to bring them to the knowledge and love of Christ. deeds whose motive was the social, moral, intellectual and But he recognized also the social aspirations of the young men religious improvement of his fellows. With him the demands of his time, their tendency to form themselves into associaof self were ever subordinated to the needs of others, and the tions. To nourish their legitimate aspirations and to provide splendid legacy he has left in the Knights of Columbus attests the love in which he held his brother man, as it also evidences for his young men a field in which their activities might find proper exercise, he set for himself the task of organizing a his profound knowledge of the special needs of the hour. society on lines different from existing Catholic associations. A practical, conservative and intelligent exponent of the I was in a position to know that it was his intention that his needs as well of the duties and obligations of young men, he

Library of Congress



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A Fourth Degree color guard leads a procession of Knights to Father McGivney’s grave in St. Joseph Cemetery on June 21, 1947.


The grain of mustard seed planted in February 1882 has grown with wondrous vitality. The Order has developed with marvelous rapidity, nor has this rapidity been at the expense of its solidarity. Modifications in non-essentials may be deemed advisable, but the watchword of the Knights of Columbus should forever remain “Unity and Charity.” They are the marks which have hitherto distinguished it. UNITY AND CHARITY

No organization, how numerous so ever its membership, can long maintain a successful existence in which there is no unity of purpose; but the Knights of Columbus rejoice in such unity. We have a community of interests which bind us together, though widely separated by town, city and state boundaries. And foremost among these interests is that of religion. It is the highest, the noblest, the most exalted of all interests. As the child of Mother Church is at home in any part of this wide world where there is an altar of sacrifice, so the Knight of Columbus meets his brethren in the faith, wherever a council exists. And the faith which the Order demands in its members is no negative nor passive, much less a dead faith; but a living, active force, animating the entire spiritual being, a faith that produces and abounds in works of mercy, that summons a Knight to the bedside of a brother stricken with illness, that speaks words of comfort and cheer, that opens the heart and the hand, and which gives practical evidence of its sincerity and efficacy — a faith which culminates in love. It is this faith that will make him loyal to God and loyal to the state. If he aspires to the privilege of citizenship in the kingdom beyond the skies, he will strive to be worthy of citizenship here below. This two-fold loyalty the Knights of Columbus strenuously inculcates — God and country. There is no antagonism here; rather, is one complemental

Knights of Columbus Multimedia Archives

society should be an auxiliary to the Church in her glorious, divinely commissioned work, that it was to operate in its chosen sphere under her guidance and with her blessing. As an auxiliary, then, of the Church, it was Father McGivney’s purpose in instituting the Knights of Columbus, to keep the young men of his parish within the household of the faith, to preserve them from the taint of infidelity, to weld together the scattered units whose influence was nil, into one grand, compact whole, whose sphere of usefulness would be enlarged and whose influence would be paramount, commensurate with its high purposes. It was his aim to surround his proteges with an atmosphere of religion and to bring them into even closer relationship to Mother Church, to give them a practical illustration of the strength that comes from intelligent organization — these were the motives that inspired Father McGivney in the foundation of the Knights of Columbus. To him the familiar saw “In union there is strength” was no mere figure of speech. It was the expression of a great truth to which he bent all his energies; and the results of his labors in this direction are visible today in this magnificent assemblage of Knights. But after everything is said, the great fact stands out prominently, that in organizing the Knights of Columbus Father McGivney was actuated primarily by religious motives. Zeal for souls is the corner stone of the superb organization, which today pays tribute to his memory. I have a vivid remembrance of the days that preceded the foundation of the Order. I have personal recollections of the anxiety that preyed upon Father McGivney as he resolutely sought the realization of his heart’s desire. I know something of the obstacles he encountered and surmounted before the Knights became a reality. I witnessed the revision of this article and of that section of the law of the Order, until he was satisfied that it met all needed requirements. C O L U M B I A B NOVEMBER 2020

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Photo by Christopher Beauchamp

of the other. Unity of purpose, unity of action and unity of faith complete a trinity which makes the Knights of Columbus a mighty agent for good, an upholder of order, a protective force in society. The second distinguishing mark, but in reality the first, of the Knight of Columbus, is charity, the queen of the virtues — charity, “the virtue of the heart and not of the hands.” Charity is the love of God and the love of the neighbor in whom dwells the image and likeness of God. It expands the heart of man and enlarges his vision. The faithful and earnest practice of it lifts him above the things of earth and gives him a foretaste of the joys that are of heaven. He participates in the mission of Christ, who went about doing good and whose blessings for soul and body alike fell upon all. Charity — this is the virtue that ennobles the Knights of Columbus and attracts so many within its fold. It impels each Knight to extend the helping hand, to banish sorrow, to bring sunshine into gloomy lives, to lift up the fallen, to strengthen the weak, to encourage the downcast. But the charity of the Knights of Columbus is not confined to, nor does it cease, with life. Amid the sorrow that follows the final departure of

loved ones, it bestows assistance which brightens the existence of mother, or wife or children. Brother Knights, the rapid expansion of the Order — and its growth is a marvel — with its increasing responsibilities, admonishes us to jealously safeguard its interests. Its catholic character should be maintained: the man of wealth and his less favored neighbor; the high in station and the humble laborer; the professor and the artisan — all classes standing upon an equality in its councils. Equality should have no distorted meaning, nor should fraternity be an empty sound. Among the shining characteristics of the Catholic Church none is more conspicuous than the equality of its membership. Before the altar all are equal. The beggar if such there be, kneels by the side of the possessor of wealth and the man of dark skin occupies the same pew with his white brother. And this spirit pervades the Knights of Columbus; and so should it ever be. The most perfect organization on this earth is the Church, to which you cheerfully yield spiritual allegiance. Let the Knights of Columbus learn from her, as far as possible — and the prosperity of the Order in the world of the future is doubly assured. B

The McGivney family plot, pictured here at Old St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Waterbury, Conn., was the site of Father McGivney’s remains until Dec. 8, 1981. At that time, they were exhumed and prepared for interment at St. Mary’s Church in New Haven on March 29, 1982 — the centenary of the Knights of Columbus. NOVEMBER 2020 B C O L U M B I A

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The Art of Holiness From sculptures to paintings to stained glass, a growing number of Catholic institutions feature artistic representations of Blessed Michael McGivney

Opposite page, from top: A mosaic painting of Father McGivney adorns St. Mary of the Cataract Church in Niagara Falls, N.Y. It is accompanied by similar images of American saints Elizabeth Ann Seton, Katharine Drexel, and Frances Xavier Cabrini. • This stained glass window depicting Father McGivney was dedicated at St. John Fisher Seminary in Stamford, Conn., in 2009. • Father McGivney stands between St. Patrick and St. Thérèse of Lisieux in stained glass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Warner Robins, Ga. Msgr. Felix Donnelly Council 4371 and its ladies’ auxiliary raised $12,500 to install the window in 2011. • Members of St. Patrick’s Council 7689 and brother Knights who teach at Father Michael McGivney Catholic Academy in Markham, Ontario, stand outside the school’s chapel. A member of Council 7689 was instrumental in naming the high school when it was founded in 1992, and the council commissioned a stained glass window and door panels for the chapel. 30

FROM TOP: Knights of Columbus Multimedia Archive, Photo by Anthony Wood, Photo by Brion McCarthy, Photo by Todd Yates

From top: Statues of Father Michael J. McGivney, a widow and her children stand outside the Supreme Council headquarters in New Haven, Conn. • A reflection garden dedicated to Father McGivney and sponsored by New Jersey Knights is seen at Discovery House retreat center in Hammonton, N.J. • A bronze bust at St. Mary’s Seminary & University in Baltimore commemorates Father McGivney, who studied there from 1873-1877. The sculpture was commissioned by a group of seminarian Knights who wished to honor Father McGivney during the Year for Priests in 2010. • A bronze statue of Father McGivney graces the courtyard of St. Mary Magdalene Roman Catholic Church in Flint, Texas. St. Mary Magdalene Council 14636 raised funds to install the statue in 2017.


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FROM TOP: Photo by KC Kratt, Knights of Columbus Multimedia Archive, Photo by Robin Newbern, Photo by Light Imaging/Karlo King


Join the Father McGivney Guild



Please enroll me in the Father Michael J. McGivney Guild: NAME ADDRESS CITY STATE/PROVINCE ZIP/POSTAL CODE

Holy Family Figure This beautiful faux wood figure depicts Mary holding Baby Jesus with Joseph watching over them. Made of resin and created by Joseph’s Studio, it measures 6" x 3.25" x 3.25". $16

Complete this coupon and mail to: The Father McGivney Guild, 1 Columbus Plaza, New Haven, CT 06510-3326 or enroll online at:

K OF C ITEMS OFFICIAL SUPPLIERS Official council and Fourth Degree equipment IN THE UNITED STATES


Pewter Holy Family Ornament This custom die-cut ornament, featuring a Nativity scene and the emblem of the Order, has an antique pewter finish etched with 3D detail. Measuring 2.5" x 3", it comes with a red ribbon for hanging and is packaged in a gift box. $12 Personalized Winter Jacket This jacket has a 100% ripstop nylon shell with Taslan nylon accents and is fully seamed for added waterproof protection. Two ounces of polyfill insulation in the body with a 100% polyester Sherpa fleece lining, and 3 ounces of polyfill in the sleeves, will keep you warm. It also includes a zip-off hood, four zippered pockets and a drop-tail hem with adjustable drawcord. Your council or assembly name and number will be embroidered around either the emblem of the Order or the Fourth Degree emblem. Please allow 1012 business days for your custom order. S, M, L, XL: $90, 2XL: $92, 3XL: $93, 4XL: $94

Questions? Call: 1-855-GEAR-KOC (855-432-7562) Additional shipping costs apply to all orders. Please call before mailing in an order. 32

KNIGHTS GEAR CANADA 1-888-266-1211



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Photo by David Ellis

Knights of Charity Every day, Knights all over the world are given opportunities to make a difference — whether through community service, raising money or prayer. We celebrate each and every Knight for his strength, his compassion and his dedication to building a better world.

Grand Knight Andy Fischer of St. Joseph the Worker Council 13359 in Maple Grove, Minn., and his son, Cody, stack supplies donated during a “baby shower” drive at St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Church. The Knights regularly hold collections to benefit several pregnancy resource centers that the council has supported for the past decade, including WomenSource in Anoka and Abria Pregnancy Resources in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

To be featured here, send your council’s “Knights in Action” photo as well as its description to: Columbia, 1 Columbus Plaza, New Haven, CT 06510-3326 or e-mail: COLUMBIA NOV 20 COVERS FINAL 10_19.indd 3

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‘Trust less in yourself and more in our Lord.’

Father Curt Vogel Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph St. Patrick’s Council 6722, Holden, Mo.


Photo by Kdog PHOTO LLC

I was born with a severe speech impediment, but after nearly getting into a car accident at age 6, I could suddenly speak clearly. Though I could never pay God back for this gift, he gave me my voice for a reason. My parish priest, through his dynamic homilies and reverence for the Mass, planted the seed of a priestly vocation within me when I was 12. Late in high school and during my freshman year of college, I discerned that I was indeed called to be a priest of Jesus Christ. So, I responded and entered the seminary. My advice to any man considering the priesthood is to embrace the cross and embrace our crucified Lord as your best friend. Intimacy with Christ is essential, and love for the Mass fosters that relationship; it is at the heart of the priesthood. Trust less in yourself and more in our Lord, and you will see his grace acting through you as his instrument of salvation for his Church.

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