Founder of Knights of Columbus attended Niagara University
The Rev. Michael J. McGivney, the Connecticut-born founder of the Knights of Columbus, will take one step closer to sainthood on Saturday, Oct. 31, when he is beatified in a ceremony at 11 a.m. at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Hartford, Connecticut. McGivney entered Our Lady of Angels Seminary, the precursor of Niagara University, in 1871 and attended through the summer of 1872.
Cardinal Joseph Tobin will preside over the beatification Mass, which will include the reading of an apostolic letter from Pope Francis that gives the reasons why the church now considers McGivney blessed. Knights of Columbus Supreme Knight Carl Anderson will also be in attendance.
The following day, at St. Mary’s Church in New Haven, Knights of Columbus Supreme Chaplain Archbishop Lori and Hartford Archbishop Blair will celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving for Beatification. The Mass will be celebrated at noon.
On May 27, the Vatican announced Pope Francis approved the decree of validity for the miracle attributed to the intercession of McGivney, allowing for his beatification. The pope’s action means McGivney can be declared “Blessed,” the step just prior to sainthood. An additional miracle attributed to McGivney’s intercession will be required for his canonization as a saint.
McGivney is best known for founding the Knights of Columbus in 1882. Tradition states he conceived of the organization at Our Lady of Angels, while strolling through the old Vincentian cemetery near Clet Hall. Today, the Knights of Columbus is one of the largest Catholic organizations in the world, with 2 million members in North and Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia and Europe.
Born of Irish immigrant parents in 1852 in Waterbury, Connecticut, McGivney was a central figure in the dramatic growth of the church in the U.S. in the late 19th century. He was ordained in Baltimore in 1877 and ministered to a heavily Irish-American and immigrant community in the then-Diocese of Hartford. He served his flock during the pandemic of 1890, before himself becoming ill and dying of pneumonia.
“Father McGivney has inspired generations of Catholic men to roll up their sleeves and put their faith into action,” Anderson said. “He was decades ahead of his time in giving the laity an important role within the church. Today, his spirit continues to shape the extraordinary charitable work of Knights as they continue to serve those on the margins of society as he served widows and orphans in the 1880s. Father McGivney also remains an important role model for parish priests around the world and left us a transformative legacy of effective cooperation between the laity and clergy.”