Michael J. McGivney

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Ven. Michael J. McGivney
Father McGivney 300.jpg
Father Michael McGivney
Born Michael Joseph McGivney
(1852-08-12)August 12, 1852
Waterbury, Connecticut
Died August 14, 1890(1890-08-14) (aged 38)
Thomaston, Connecticut
Cause of death
Occupation Priest
Employer Archdiocese of Hartford
Known for Founding the Knights of Columbus
Religion Roman Catholic

Father Michael Joseph McGivney (August 12, 1852 – August 14, 1890) was an American Catholic priest. He founded the Knights of Columbus, which became the world's largest Catholic fraternal organization. In March 2008, Pope Benedict XVI declared McGivney "Venerable".[1]

Early life[edit]

Michael J. McGivney was born to Irish immigrants, Patrick and Mary (Lynch) McGivney on Aug. 12, 1852. He was the eldest of 13 children, six of whom died in infancy or childhood. His father worked as a molder in a Waterbury, Connecticut brass mill. Michael Mcgivney attended the local Waterbury district school, but left at the age of thirteen to work in the spoon making department of one of the brass mills.[2]


At the age of sixteen Michael McGivney entered Séminaire de Saint-Hyacinthe in Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec, Canada, in 1868. He continued his studies at Our Lady of Angels Seminary in Niagara Falls, NY[2] (1871–1872) and at the Jesuit's St. Mary's College in Montreal, but had to leave the seminary and return home to help finish raising his siblings, due to the death of his father in June 1873.[3] He later resumed his studies at St.Mary's Seminary in Baltimore, Maryland and was ordained a priest on December 22, 1877, by Archbishop James Gibbons at the Baltimore Cathedral of the Assumption.[2]

McGivney died from pneumonia on the eve of the Assumption in 1890, when he was thirty-eight years old.

Michael J McGivney

Founding of the Knights of Columbus[edit]

From his own experience as a member of the immigrant community, he saw first hand the devastating effect on families of the untimely death of the father and wage earner.[3] On March 29, 1882, while an assistant pastor at Saint Mary's Church in New Haven, Connecticut, McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus with a small group of parishioners,[3] to help strengthen the faith of the men of his parish and to provide financial assistance in the event of their death to the widows and orphans they left behind. He was also known for his tireless work among his parishioners.[1]

The Knights of Columbus was among the first groups to recruit blood donors, with formal efforts dating back to 1937. The order now has over 1.8 million member families and fifteen thousand councils. During the 2012 fraternal year, $167 million and 70 million man-hours were donated to charity by the order.[4]

Cause for canonization[edit]

Fr. Michael J. McGivney monument in the Parish of St. James the Apostle patio, Plaridel, Bulacan.

In 1996, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford opened an investigation into Father McGivney's life, with a view towards formal recognition by the Church of his sainthood. Fr. Gabriel O'Donnell, OP is the postulator of McGivney's cause, as well as director of the Fr. McGivney Guild. The guild now has 150,000 members.[5]

The diocesan investigation was closed in 2000, and the case was passed to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Vatican City. On March 15, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI approved a decree recognizing the heroic virtue of Fr. McGivney, thus declaring him "Venerable".[3] A miracle attributed to the intercession of McGivney is under investigation at the Vatican.[5]


Fr. Michael J. McGivney monument in Sts. Peter & Paul Parish Church, Bauang, La Union.
  • A stained-glass window depicting Father McGivney was dedicated Sept. 12, 2009, at St. John Fisher Seminary in Stamford, Connecticut, by Bishop William E. Lori of Bridgeport. The window was created by Rohl’s Stained and Leaded Glass Studio of New Rochelle, New York. [7]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Brinkley, Douglas; Julie M. Fenster (2006-01-10). Parish Priest: Father Michael McGivney and American Catholicism. William Morrow Publishers. ISBN 978-0-06-077684-8.