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Father Michael McGivney beatified: Founder of Knights of Columbus attended Niagara University

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NIAGARA UNIVERSITY – Father Michael J. McGivney, the Connecticut-born founder of the Knights of Columbus, moved one step closer to sainthood during a ceremony at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Hartford, Conn. Father McGivney entered Our Lady of Angels Seminary, the precursor of Niagara University, in 1871 and attended through the summer of 1872.

Cardinal Joseph Tobin presided over the beatification Mass, which included the reading of an apostolic letter from Pope Francis that gives the reasons why the Church now considers Father McGivney blessed. Knights of Columbus Supreme Knight Carl Anderson also attended. 

Knights of Columbus Supreme Chaplain Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore and Hartford Archbishop Leonard P. Blaircelebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving for Beatification on Nov. 1

A cross containing a relic of Blessed Michael McGivney, founder of the Knights of Columbus, is displayed during his Oct. 31, 2020, beatification Mass of at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Hartford, Conn. (CNS photo/courtesy Knights of Columbus)

On May 27, 2020, the Vatican announced that Pope Francis approved the decree of validity for the miracle attributed to the intercession of Father Michael McGivney, allowing for Father McGivney’s beatification. The pope’s action means that Father McGivney can be declared “Blessed,” the step just prior to sainthood. An additional miracle attributed to Father McGivney’s intercession will be required for his canonization as a saint.

Father McGivney is best known for founding the Knights of Columbus in 1882. Tradition states that Father McGivney 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, Conn., Father McGivney was a central figure in the dramatic growth of the Church in the United States 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,” Supreme Knight Carl A. 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.

To read about the beatification ceremony click here.

Photo of Clet Hall on the campus of Niagara University.

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