SAN DIEGO — To mark the beatification of Father Michael J. McGivney, founder of the Knights of Columbus, the organization’s San Diego chapter will be hosting a Mass, a rosary prayer service and a membership drive.
The prayer service will be held on Friday, Oct. 30, at St. Joseph Cathedral in downtown San Diego. It will immediately follow the 12:07 p.m. Mass, which itself will be offered in honor of Father McGivney’s beatification. All 16 of California’s Knights of Columbus chapters, which represent more than 740 parish-based councils and more than 79,000 individual Knights, have been asked to hold a prayer service on the same date.
The San Diego chapter also has set a goal of recruiting 30 new members by Oct. 31, the day that Father McGivney will be declared “blessed” during a Mass in Hartford, Connecticut. The number 30 represents the typical size of a new council, and the membership drive is intended as a tribute to the establishment of the first council by Father McGivney.
Tom Davis, president of the Knights of Columbus San Diego Chapter, explained the importance of celebrating the long-awaited beatification locally.
“Individual councils are the core of what the Knights of Columbus’ mission is about,” he said, explaining that Knights “put our faith into action in our own parishes.”
A humble parish priest from what is now the Archdiocese of Hartford, Father McGivney’s sainthood cause was opened in 1997. He was awarded the title “venerable” in 2008, after it was determined that he had led a life of heroic virtue. A miracle involving an unborn child with a life-threatening condition, who was cured through Father McGivney’s intercession in 2015, was approved by the Vatican in late May and paved the way for his beatification. A second miracle is required for canonization.
Rene Trevino, who serves as treasurer for the Knights of Columbus California State Council, is already looking forward to the day that Father McGivney becomes St. Michael McGivney.
“All we need is one more miracle — and they’re out there,” said Trevino, who joined the Knights in 2003. “They just have to be recognized by the Vatican. I’m sure there’s been many cases [that] have been sent to the Vatican.”
Davis urges everyone to continue praying for Father McGivney’s canonization and to request favors through his intercession. He especially encourages prayers that Father McGivney intercede on behalf of widows and orphans, keeping families together, and other concerns closely tied to Father McGivney’s personal story.
Though it’s not the sort of thing that would count as that second miracle required for sainthood, Davis said he considers the Knights themselves to be “one of Father McGivney’s miracles” because of all of the “tiny miracles” that Knights do every day to help those in need as well as the fact that the organization is still going strong after almost 140 years.
Davis, who became a Knight 27 years ago out of a desire to engage in more charitable service, recalled the Knights’ humble beginnings.
The men’s organization was founded in 1882, primarily to help provide for the material needs of Catholic widows and orphans. Its first council met in the basement of a parish church in New Haven, Connecticut.
Today, it is the largest lay Catholic organization in the world and boasts almost 2 million men as members. It continues to aid families as an insurance provider and through its support for a variety of causes, including pro-life and pro-marriage efforts.
Davis noted the appropriateness of beatifying Father McGivney amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, since the 38-year-old priest died in 1890, during an earlier pandemic.
Trevino said, “The values that he instilled in the Knights back in the 1800s are the values we still have today. … He died at a young age, but his legacy still continues.”
Trevino said that contemporary Catholics, even those who are not Knights, can take inspiration from Father McGivney by finding ways to serve others.
“Serve your parish, serve your neighbor, and serve those that are in need,” he said, “because that’s what Father McGivney’s legacy is.”