The Knights of Columbus have played a leading role in the pro-life movement for over 50 years. So it’s no
surprise that Father Michael McGivney’s, founder of the Knight of Columbus, beatification will take place during
Respect Life Month, or that the miracle attributed to Father McGivney - saving the life of little Mikey Schachle -
is a pro-life one.
Michael Joseph McGivney was an American Catholic priest based in New Haven, Connecticut. He founded the
Knights of Columbus at a local parish to serve as a mutual aid and fraternal insurance organization, particularly
for immigrants and their families. It developed through the 20th century as the world's largest Catholic fraternal
organization. He was born to Irish immigrant parents, Patrick and Mary (Lynch) McGivney. He was the eldest of
13 children, six of whom died in infancy or childhood. His father worked as a molder in a Waterbury,
Connecticut, brass mill. Michael attended the local Waterbury district school but left at 13 to work in the spoonmaking department of one of the brass mills. In 1868, at the age of 16 he went to seminary, but had to leave
seminary and return home to help raise his younger siblings when his father died. He later returned to seminary
and was ordained in 1877.
From his own experience, McGivney recognized the devastating effect on immigrant families of the untimely
death of the father and wage earner. Many Catholics were still struggling to assimilate into the American
economy. On March 29, 1882, while an assistant pastor at Saint Mary's Church in New Haven, Connecticut,
McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus, with a small group of parishioners, as a mutual aid society, to
provide financial assistance, in the event of the men's deaths, to their widows and orphans. The organization
developed as a fraternal society. McGivney spent seven years at St. Mary's, then became pastor of St. Thomas
Church in Thomaston in 1884. He died from pneumonia at the age of 38 in Thomaston on the eve of the
Assumption in 1890.
Fr. McGivney was not just a man of deep empathy but also a man with deep compassion and a spirit for action.
The legacy of this lives on in the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal organization he established in 1882,
whose purpose was to protect the faith of Catholics. This took the form of three pillars:
1) The Knights would serve as an antidote to those secret societies that lured Catholic men away from their
faith by offering financial benefits.
2) The Order’s insurance program would help keep Catholic families together when a breadwinner died; this
would also help prevent a loss of faith among widows and orphans forced to live in state institutions or
with non-Catholic relatives or adoptive families.
3) The Knights would champion the full rights of American citizenship for Catholics. This too would support
the Church, since ensuring equal rights for Catholics would help limit the social or civil pressure on them
to abandon their faith.
The Knights of Columbus was among the first groups to recruit blood donors, with formal efforts dating to 1937
during the Great Depression. As of 2013, the order has more than 1.8 million member families and 15,000
councils, of which our parish has one. During the 2012 fraternal year, the order donated $167 million and 70
million man-hours to charity.The approved miracle, attributed to Fr. McGinney,
involved the healing of a child in the womb from a fatal
condition. While expecting their 13th child, Daniel and
Michelle Schachle of Tennessee were told that the boy had
Trisomy-21 (Down Syndrome). A few weeks later, an
ultrasound diagnosed fetal hydrops, in which multiple
organs were filled with fluid. Doctors said that there was no
hope of survival and abortion was the best option. As
faithful Catholics, the Schachles refused abortion and
began praying to Father McGivney for a miracle. An
insurance agent with the Knights of Columbus, Daniel
earned a trip to the Marian Shrine in Fatima, Portugal, and
brought his wife for a prayerful pilgrimage. At Mass in
Fatima, Michelle felt something change within her when
she heard the words of Gospel about the Roman official
whose son was healed by Jesus: “Go; your son lives.” A
few days after returning to Tennessee, an ultrasound
indicated that the unborn child was healed of fetal hydrops.
Studied for years at the Vatican, the healing was declared
miraculous by medical and theological experts. Today,
Michael McGivney Schachle is an active 5-year-old, with
Down syndrome, who is surrounded by a loving family.
Find out more about the life of Fr. Michael J. McGivney
and the plans for his beautification
"We wear masks for your safety, will you wear your mask
for our safety?" This was a sign at a store. I think it is a
good reminder of the importance and respect of safety for
everyone. As we continue to face high COVID cases, I
remind you that the Bishop's dispensation from Sunday
Mass remains in effect. We continue to offer Masses for
those comfortable with attending Mass. We are down in
attendance by about 300 people in the last month at our
weekend Masses, but are up slightly at our weekday
Masses (6:45 a.m. Grand, 9:00 a.m. Waldo, and Tuesday
6:30 p.m. Grand). For those remaining home, we have a
live feed to our parish Facebook page and post recording of
all of our liturgies on our YouTube page. Also, note that
the Bishop is doing a 10:00 a.m. Sunday Mass on WFRV
TV. We remain vigilant in asking people who choose to
come to church to be healthy, wear masks (covering both
mouth and noise), and social distance. We want to
continue to provide a safe environment for all. Do keep
praying for a vaccine, for healing for those who are ill,
safety for health workers, and respect for each other.
P.S. To further our prayer opportunities, our Grand church
site is open for private prayer from in the morning (after
6:45 a.m. Mass) until 5:00 p.m. Feel free to stop in and
From the Pastor 10/25/20: