Michael J. McGivney

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Michael J. McGivney
Fr. Michael J. McGivney, c. 1890
BornMichael Joseph McGivney
(1852-08-12)August 12, 1852
Waterbury, Connecticut, U.S.
DiedAugust 14, 1890(1890-08-14) (aged 38)
Thomaston, Connecticut, U.S.
Venerated inCatholic Church
BeatifiedOctober 31, 2020, Cathedral of Saint Joseph, Hartford, Connecticut, United States by Joseph Cardinal Tobin (on behalf of Pope Francis)
Major shrineChurch of Saint Mary, New Haven, Connecticut, United States
FeastAugust 13

Michael Joseph McGivney (August 12, 1852 – August 14, 1890) was an Irish-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 insurance organization, particularly for immigrants and their families. It developed through the 20th century as the world's largest Catholic fraternal organization.

The cause for his canonization started in the Archdiocese of Hartford in 1996; in March 2008, Pope Benedict XVI declared McGivney "Venerable" in recognition of his "heroic virtue".[1] On May 27, 2020, Pope Francis announced that McGivney had been approved for beatification, which officially occurred on October 31, 2020.[2]

Early life[edit]

He was born to Irish immigrant parents, Patrick and Mary (née Lynch) McGivney. 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 attended the local Waterbury district school but left at 13 to work in one of the brass mills' spoon-making departments.[3]


In 1868, at the age of 16, he entered the Séminaire de Saint-Hyacinthe in Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec, Canada. He continued his studies at Our Lady of Angels Seminary, near Niagara Falls, New York[3] (1871–1872) and at the Jesuits' St. Mary's College, in Montreal, Quebec. While in seminary, he and other seminarians formed a baseball team and McGivney was a "naturally talented ballplayer."[4] He had to leave the seminary, returning home to help finish raising his siblings after his father's death in June 1873.[5] McGivney later resumed his studies at St. Mary's Seminary, in Baltimore, Maryland; he was ordained a priest on December 22, 1877, by James Gibbons, Archbishop of Baltimore at the Cathedral of the National Shrine of the Assumption.[3]

Michael J. McGivney

Founding of the Knights of Columbus[edit]

From his own experience, McGivney recognized the devastating effect on immigrant families of the father and wage earner's untimely death. Many Catholics were still struggling to assimilate into the American economy.[5] 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,[5] as a mutual aid society, to provide financial assistance, in the event of the men's deaths, to their widows and orphans. The organization developed as a fraternal society. McGivney was also known for his tireless work among his parishioners.[1]

McGivney spent seven years at St. Mary's, then became pastor of St. Thomas Church in Thomaston in 1884. He died from pneumonia at the age of 38 in Thomaston on the eve of the Assumption in 1890.[6]

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 had more than 1.8 million member families and 15,000 councils. During the 2012 fraternal year, the order donated $167 million and 70 million man-hours to charity.[7]

By 2020, the order reached the 2 million member mark.[8] During the 2019 fraternal year, the order donated $187 million and 77 million man-hours to charity.[citation needed]

Cause of beatification and canonization[edit]

In 1996, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford opened the cause for canonization, an investigation into McGivney's life with a view towards formal recognition by the Catholic Church of his sainthood. Gabriel O'Donnell is the postulator of McGivney's cause. He is also the director of the Fr. McGivney Guild, which now has 150,000 members supporting his cause.[9]

The diocesan investigation was closed in 2000, and the case was passed to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in the Vatican City. On March 15, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI approved a decree recognizing McGivney's heroic virtue, thus declaring him as "Venerable."[5]

As of May 5, 2015, a miracle attributed to McGivney's intercession was under investigation at the Vatican.[9] On May 27, 2020, the miracle attributed to the intercession of McGivney was approved by Congregation for the Causes of Saints and authorized by Pope Francis.[2] The Miracle involved the healing of Michael "Mikey" Schachle in his mother's womb after being given a zero percent chance of survival by doctors at Vanderbilt Medical Center in 2015.[10]

On October 31, 2020, the beatification Mass of Michael McGivney was celebrated at the Cathedral of Saint Joseph in Hartford, Connecticut with Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin presiding on the Pope's behalf.[11][12]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Knights of Columbus Founder Declared Venerable". Zenit.org. March 16, 2008. Archived from the original on June 7, 2011.
  2. ^ a b "Knights of Columbus founder Fr. Michael McGivney to be beatified". Catholic News Agency. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  3. ^ a b c "Early Years : Father Michael McGivney Office – Philippines". Retrieved June 23, 2020.
  4. ^ Father McGivney, Knights founder, could hold his own on baseball field
  5. ^ a b c d "Father Michael McGivney," Connecticut Public Broadcasting Network Archived September 16, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ "St Mary's Parish | New Haven, CT". ST MARY PARISH. Retrieved June 23, 2020.
  7. ^ "Knights set record for giving $167 million, 70 million volunteer hours, in 2012", Catholic Philly, June 2013
  8. ^ "Knights of Columbus unveils new initiation ceremony that will be public". Archdiocese of Baltimore. January 29, 2020. Retrieved June 23, 2020.
  9. ^ a b "Annual Report of the Supreme Knight" (PDF). Knights of Columbus. August 6, 2013. Retrieved October 16, 2013.
  10. ^ Telli, Andy (June 12, 2020). "Miracle for Mikey: Dickson boy's cure opens door to K of C founder's beatification". tennesseeregister.com. Retrieved October 27, 2021.
  11. ^ "Beatification of Fr. Michael McGivney: Example for post-pandemic parish renewal - Vatican News". www.vaticannews.va. October 31, 2020. Retrieved October 31, 2020.
  12. ^ "Beatification of Father Michael J. McGivney To Be Held Saturday". NBC Connecticut. October 31, 2020. Retrieved October 31, 2020.
  13. ^ Father Michael McGivney Catholic Academy
  14. ^ "McGivney Institutions and Memorials", Father McGivney Guild

Further reading[edit]

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

External links[edit]