Father Michael Joseph McGivney
Michael Joseph McGivney (August 12, 1852 – August 14, 1890) was an American Catholic priest based in New Haven, Connecticut. He founded the Knights of Columbus at a local parish to serve as a mutual aid and fraternal insurance organization, particularly for immigrants and their families. The Knights of Columbus have developed through the 20th century as the world’s largest Catholic fraternal organization.
From his own experience, Fr. McGivney recognized the devastating effect on immigrant families of the untimely death of the father and wage earner. Many Catholics were still struggling to assimilate into the American economy. On March 29, 1882, while an assistant pastor at Saint Mary’s Church in New Haven, Connecticut, Fr. McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus, with a small group of parishioners, as a mutual aid society, to provide financial assistance in the event of the men’s death to their widows and orphans. The organization developed as a fraternal society. He was also known for his tireless work among his parishioners. Fr. McGivney died from pneumonia on the eve of the Assumption in 1890, when he was 38.
The Knights of Columbus was among the first groups to recruit blood donors, with formal efforts dating to 1937 during the Great Depression. As of 2013, the order has more than 1.8 million member families and 15,000 councils. During the 2012 fraternal year, $167 million and 70 million man-hours were donated to charity by the order.
Father McGivney DVD
An hour-long docudrama on Father Michael McGivney that aired nationwide on public television is now available for purchase on DVD. Learn more about the founder of the Knights of Columbus as his cause for sainthood moves forward at the Vatican.
Father Michael J. McGivney is a documentary that brings to life the story of one of America s most extraordinary Catholic priests. Born in Connecticut of Irish immigrant parents just a few years before the Civil War, Michael McGivney grew up at a time when millions of Catholic immigrants were struggling to overcome poverty and prejudice.
As a parish priest in the gritty New England manufacturing town of New Haven, he made a deep impact on his community, earning the respect of the Protestant establishment and the love of his parishioners at St. Mary s Church. Emboldened to care for families threatened by the death of the breadwinner, Fr. McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus, a mutual benefit society that today remains the world s largest Catholic lay organization with 1.8 million members in 13 nations. This film offers a rare glimpse into the life of an extraordinary priest and visionary leader. From defending the persecuted Church to protecting widows and orphans Father Michael McGivney celebrates the triumphs and tribulations of a priest who may very well be America s first canonized parish priest.
Pope Benedict XVI has approved a decree recognizing the heroic virtue of Father McGivney.
Father Michael MMcGivney and Ameircan Catholicsm
“FATHER MCGIVNEY’S VISION REMAINS AS RELEVANT AS EVER IN THE CHANGED CIRCUMSTANCES OF TODAY’S CHURCH AND SOCIETY.” – POPE JOHN PAUL II
Is now the time for an American parish priest to be declared a Catholic saint?
In Father Michael McGivney (1852-1890), born and raised in a Connecticut factory town, the modern era’s ideal of the priesthood hit its zenith. The son of Irish immigrants, he was a man to whom “family values” represented more than mere rhetoric. And he left a legacy of hope still celebrated around the world.
In the late 1800s, discrimination against American Catholics was widespread. Many Catholics struggled to find work and ended up in inferno-like mills. An injury or death of the wage earner would leave the family penniless. The grim threat of chronic homelessness and even starvation could fast become realities. Called to action in 1882 by his sympathy for these suffering people, Father McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus, an organization that has helped to save countless families from the indignity of destitution. From its uncertain beginnings, when Father McGivney was the only person willing to work toward its success, it has grown to an international membership of more than 1.8 million members.
At heart, though, Father McGivney was never anything more than an American parish priest, and nothing less than that, either – beloved by children, trusted by young adults, and regarded as a “positive saint” by the elderly in his New Haven parish.
In this incredible work of academic research, Douglas Brinkley and Julie Fenster re-create the life of Father McGivney, a fiercely dynamic yet tenderhearted man. Though he was only thirty-eight when he died, Father McGivney has never been forgotten. He remains a true “people’s priest,” a genuinely holy man – and perhaps the most beloved parish priest in U.S. history. Moving and inspirational, Parish Priest chronicles the process of canonization that may well make Father McGivney the first American-born parish priest declared a saint by the Vatican.
God, our Father, protector of the poor and defender of the widow and orphan, you called your priest, Father Michael J. McGivney, to be an apostle of Christian family life and to lead the young to the generous service of their neighbor. Through the example of his life and virtue may we follow your Son, Jesus Christ, more closely, fulfilling his commandment of charity and building up his Body which is the Church.
Let the inspiration of your servant prompt us to greater confidence in your love so that we may continue his work of caring for the needy and the outcast. We humbly ask that you glorify your venerable servant Father Michael J. McGivney on earth according to the design of your holy will. Through his intercession, grant the favor I now present (here make your request).
Through Christ our Lord.
(Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be.)