- About the Shrine
- The Shrines
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Fr. Michael McGivney was born August 12, 1852 in Waterbury, Connecticut, one of 13 children. At the age of 16, Michael traveled to Quebec, Canada where he registered at the French-run College of St. Hyacinthe to prepare him for seminary admission.
After 2 years at Our Lady of Angels Seminary and four years at St. Mary’s Seminary he was ordained. He offered his first Mass at Immaculate Conception Church in Waterbury. His priestly ministry began on Christmas Day, 1877, as curate of St. Mary’s Church.
One of the responsibilities of St. Mary’s priests was pastoral care on inmates in the city jail. He worked closely with the young people of St. Mary’s, holding catechism classes and organizing a total abstinence society to fight alcoholism. In an age when parish clubs and fraternal societies had wide popularity, Fr. Michael sought information that would help the Catholic laymen to organize themselves into a benefit society. The Connecticut legislature granted a charter to the Knight of Columbus on March 29th establishing it as a legal corporation. Thus was born the “Knights of Columbus”, in 1882, with their core principles of Charity, Unity, Fraternity, and Patriotism.
Father McGivney was struck with a severe case of pneumonia in January 1890. Although various treatments were tried, his health continued to decline and he died August 14. Delegates were present at his funeral from almost every one of the 57 Knights of Columbus councils that had been founded in the Order’s first eight years. Today, there are over 15,000 councils.
To mark their 100th anniversary in 1982, the Knights of Columbus brought the remains of Father McGivney from Waterbury back to St. Mary’s Church in New Haven, where he founded the Order. There he now rests, in a setting in which daily Mass is offered for deceased Knights and prayers are said in his honor.
Fr. Michael McGivney was declared Venerable in 2008 by Pope Benedict XVI. Fr. McGivney was Beatified in October, 2020 by Pope Francis.
When an individual becomes a candidate for sainthood, there is an opportunity to call upon him or her for help. Favors received through Father McGivney’s intercession are signs of God’s love manifested through the holiness of his life.