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The Legacy of Father Michael McGivney, Holy Priest

On Oct. 31, at St. Joseph Cathedral in Hartford, Connecticut, Father Michael J. McGivney will be beatified, 23 years after the opening of his cause in 1997 in the Archdiocese of Hartford.

On May 27, Pope Francis approved a decree recognizing a miracle attributed to his intercession, involving an unborn child who was healed in utero of a life-threatening condition in 2015.

Family Provider 

Although Father McGivney died two days after his 38th birthday in 1890, he’s considered a saint for our times.

“Father McGivney had a great love for the needs of the family. The unity of the family was very important to him,” Father James Sullivan, rector of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Waterbury, Connecticut, Father McGivney’s hometown, told the Register.

As a spiritual father, Father McGivney was concerned with Catholic families’ spiritual and physical needs, seeing them through serious financial situations during those times; he provided insurance to these families as well as to widows and orphans, but more importantly he provided them a framework for unity as faithful Catholics. It is this spiritual provision, Father Sullivan said, which remains the more vital part of Father McGivney’s legacy.

“Father McGivney emphasized the unity of the family and the necessity of an intact family,” Father Sullivan said. 

In seeing the relevance of Father McGivney for our times, Dominican Father John Paul Walker said another characteristic of his time was the plight of immigrants. Father Walker is pastor of St. Mary Church in New Haven, Connecticut, where Father McGivney was first assigned and where he founded, in 1882, the Knights of Columbus, which today numbers nearly 2 million men plus their families. 

This situation tied directly into family problems. “One of the biggest parts of his ministry was reaching out to broken families, often because the father died at a very young age, leaving those children without a father figure,” Father Walker explained. “The causes today might be different, but many families in our country today are without a father figure. All these parallels are realities Father McGivney faced every day — the realities we face. Watching and learning from him how he served those needs in his day help us how to understand to serve people better with these needs in our day.”

That model earned him the title of “Protector of Christian Family Life.” 

Read more at National Catholic Register

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