Michael J. McGivney was born to Irish immigrants in Waterbury, Conn., on Aug. 12, 1852. The eldest of 13 children (seven of whom survived to adulthood), he studied for the priesthood and was ordained on Dec. 22, 1877, and was assigned to St. Mary’s Church in New Haven, where he founded the Knights of Columbus in 1882. By his holy life, exemplary virtue, piety and priestly character, he was recognized by many as “a saint in the making.” He was also a priest of great vision and foresight who anticipated the Second Vatican’s Council proclamation of the “Universal Call to Holiness” by empowering laypersons to take leadership positions.
Never robust in health, Father Michael McGivney fell sick with pneumonia in January 1890 while serving as pastor of St. Thomas Church in Thomaston, Conn. After months of attempted “cures” and laboring to carry on his pastoral duties, he died on Aug. 14, two days past his 38th birthday. His funeral in his home parish in Waterbury was attended by throngs of faithful who recognized his virtue and sanctity.
In 1997, Archbishop Daniel A. Cronin of Hartford, Conn., opened Father McGivney’s cause for canonization, at the request of the Knights of Columbus. Dominican Father Gabriel B. O’Donnell was named the postulator, or promoter, of the cause.
In March of 2008, Pope Benedict XVI bestowed the title “Venerable” on Father Michael McGivney.
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