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Growing up in a family of poor Irish immigrants, Michael McGivney couldn’t pursue his vocation—at first. He worked for three years as a molder in a brass factory until his dad gave him permission to study in seminary. But soon after he left, Michael’s father died, and he was suddenly hit with a reality far too common for children during the 19th century—a period of rapid industrialization and the Asian flu pandemic.
If it weren’t for the bishop of Hartford, Connecticut, making arrangements for the promising young student to continue his studies in Baltimore, Fr. McGivney’s dream of being a priest might have ended there.
The tragedy of losing his father, and the subsequent charity of the Church left a deep impression on Fr. McGivney.
He understood firsthand what so many other families endured upon losing a breadwinner. He also knew that it could have been far worse—if he were a minor, he might have been taken into custody by the state and put in a secular orphanage because of his mother’s financial inability to provide for him.
To protect families both spiritually and materially Fr. McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus as a Catholic fraternity and insurance program. He taught that Knights should be known for their faithfulness to Christ, fidelity to our Holy Mother Church, personal integrity, courageous service and opposition to injustice.
Father McGivney’s spiritual genius was in founding an organization that transformed friends into brothers – a mission that resonates especially today, after the release of Pope Francis’ latest encyclical, which emphasizes how we are all brothers and sisters, children of our common Creator, and appeals to us to live as such.
10 Things to know about the pope’s newest encyclical letter
In May of 2020, following extensive investigations by Vatican medical experts and theologians, Pope Francis confirmed that Mikey Schachle, an unborn child with Down Syndrome, was miraculously cured of fetal hydrops–an uncommon and typically fatal condition–after the intercession of Fr. McGivney.
The recognition of this miracle led the way to his beatification, which will occur on October 31.
To prepare for this day, Aleteia is joining the Knights of Columbus in a novena, which began on October 22 and concludes on the vigil of the beatification.
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Little boy healed through prayers of Fr. McGivney is “like a kiss from Jesus”
List of Saints from the United States of America