The McGivney Guild also noted the Knights founder’s “enthusiasm for the relatively new game of baseball.” Again, that was not lost in succeeding generations. In May of 1960, Walshe had to stay in Fr. Finn’s rectory because his mother had to care for his grandmother. Fr. Finn taught the 16-year-old how to drive, and as they drove through the back roads of Connecticut, the priest told his nephew a number of stories, and then took him to meet his cousin, Msgr. William Fox.
“He was probably 90 years old when I met him,” Walshe said. But he was “the coolest guy I ever met in my whole life at that point. Why? Because he’d played baseball for Holy Cross, and one of his teammates was Louis Sockalexis, who was an Indian. And the rumor was that later on — because he played baseball for the pros, including the Cleveland Indians — that they were called the Cleveland Indians because of Sockalexis. There’s a debate about it. But here’s a guy who played with this famous Indian.”
Now that their beloved ancestor is being beatified, “the whole family is doing somersaults about what’s going on,” Walshe said. He expressed satisfaction about the miracle that is attributed to Fr. McGivney’s intercession — the healing of an unborn child of a fatal condition. “Hearing about this miracle that happened to this little kid who was in his mother’s womb, and praying to Fr. Mike, and getting cured of fetal hydrops, it’s awe-inspiring,” Walshe commented.
“This is just phenomenal,” said Philips, 74. “I am so thrilled. And I’m so thrilled to be alive for this, and I hope it won’t be too long before he’s declared a saint. …It was just such an incredible heritage, to think that an Irish Catholic priest, the son of Irish immigrants, would start such a phenomenal organization that grew and grew and has had such an impact on the world. I’m very proud to be a part of it.”
Walshe has his own story about an inexplicable “favor” he received from Fr. McGivney — or Fr. Mike, as he refers to him. He was recently in hospital with a serious condition, and his wife, Kathleen, invited a priest to come and pray for him.
“I opened my eyes,” he said, “and standing in back of [the priest] was Fr. Mike.”
This too might one day become part of the family lore.