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Venerable Fr. Michael McGivney: patron of coronavirus victims? Venerable Fr. Michael McGivney: patron of coronavirus victims? 

Fr. Michael McGivney: Coronavirus victim and soon-to-be Blessed

Looking for a saint in these Covid-19-troubled times? Look no further than Venerable Fr. Michael McGivney, founder of the Knights of Columbus, who died during what may have been a coronavirus pandemic in 1890.

By Devin Watkins

The coronavirus pandemic has turned our lives upside down and taken away some of the securities upon which our society was based.

In these difficult times, many are looking for help to make sense of it all. The time-honored Catholic tradition of invoking men and women of proven holiness to intercede with the Father for us offers one path toward peace and deeper faith in God.

Coronavirus victim

With that in mind, perhaps Venerable Father Michael McGivney is a good option.

The American priest died from pneumonia in 1890 during what some in the scientific community now say was likely a coronavirus pandemic. Some 1 million people died in that outbreak.

Pope Francis recently recognized a miracle attributed to Fr. McGivney, clearing the way for his beatification. Fr. McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus, a fraternal service organization of Catholic laymen.

Fr. McGivney, pray for us

In an interview with Vatican News, Supreme Knight Carl Anderson said the recognition of the miracle comes at a propitious time for the Church.

Fr. McGivney “suffered and died like so many Americans and other people around the world,” he said.

“So, when we say now ‘Fr. McGivney, pray for us’, we are going to have somebody who has been there and been through this suffering. I think his prayers will be very personal.”

Listen to the full interview

Confirmation of his example

Mr. Anderson said Fr. McGivney’s upcoming beatification “confirms what we thought about his saintly life and his inspiration for millions of men for more than a century.”

From humble beginnings in 1882 in a parish in New Haven, Connecticut, the Knights of Columbus now count over 16,000 councils in countries throughout the world.

Knights from the United States, the Philippines, Mexico, Canada, France, Poland, Ukraine, and Korea can look to their organization’s founder with confidence in his saintly example.

“Almost every day we have a deepening of our understanding of what it means to live a life of unity and fraternity, and we added the principle of patriotism, which was important to Fr. McGivney,” said Mr. Anderson.

Fraternal charity

Citing Pope Francis’ frequent call for a more “fraternal” society, the Supreme Knight said the soon-to-be Blessed had a similar approach to charity.

“It’s not just about writing a bigger check or putting a few more dollars or euro in the collection plate,” he said. “It’s about looking at your neighbor as a brother or a sister, and when they are in difficulty, to help them out.”

Community for the Catholic layman

Throughout history, great religious orders have arisen to meet a need within the Church.

“What about the Catholic layman?” wondered Mr. Anderson. “What about the man who can’t take a vow of poverty because he is married, has a family, and has to work in the world and support his family?”

Fr. Michael McGivney, he said, offers the Catholic layman a fraternal community where he “can meet other men who consider themselves to be brothers, who will help each other, who are concerned for each other, and can also have a certain spiritual life together.”

Supreme Knight Carl Anderson said this is the key to the success of the Knights of Columbus.

02 June 2020, 14:45