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Ven. Fr. Michael J. McGivney

Michael Joseph McGivney was born in Waterbury, Connecticut, on August 12, 1852, the first child of Patrick and Mary (Lynch) McGivney. His parents came to the United States in the great 19th-century wave of Irish immigration and were married in Waterbury. Young Michael thus experienced from an early age grief, anti-Catholic bigotry and poverty. But his faith sustained him. At home and in church, he learned and embraced love, faith, fortitude, prayer and putting love of God above any earthly rewards.


Father Michael J. McGivney was ordained on December 22, 1877, and assigned to St. Mary’s Church. It was here in 1882 he founded the Knights of Columbus with the intention that this group would strengthen the faith of the men of the parish and care for the widows of members. Today, the Knights is the largest Catholic fraternal benefit society in the World. Father McGivney spent seven years at St. Mary’s, being assigned pastor of St. Thomas in Thomaston in 1884, where he died in 1890 at the age of 38. In 1982, his remains were reentombed at St. Mary’s Church. In 1997 Archbishop Daniel Cronin opened the cause for Father McGivney; in April 2008, Pope Benedict XVI declared him Venerable; and on May 27, 2020, Pope Francis recognized a miracle attributed to Fr. McGivney, meaning that Fr. McGivney will become beatified on October 31, 2020.


Knights of Columbus

The Knights of Columbus (K of C) is a global Catholic fraternal service order. Founded on the principles of charity, unity and fraternity, the Knights of Columbus was established in 1882 by Father Michael J. McGivney, assistant pastor of St. Mary's Church in New Haven, Conn., and a group of parishioners. Their intent? To bring financial aid and assistance to the sick, disabled and needy members and their families.

As of 2019, there were nearly two million members around the world. There are more than 16,000 local Knights of Columbus councils around the world, including over 300 on college campuses.


The Tomb

A special place of prayer and pilgrimage is the sarcophagus where the bodily remains of Father McGivney are entombed, near the entrance of St. Mary’s Church. Knights and families from many parts of the world, as well as visitors from New Haven and beyond, come to St. Mary’s to pay tribute to Father McGivney. They recite the prayer for canonization (as seen below) and thank God for favors received through the intercession of the holy priest. 

The mortal remains of Father McGivney were reverently placed in the polished granite sarcophagus on March 29, 1982, the centennial of the founding of the Knights of Columbus. The remains had been exhumed from the McGivney family plot in his hometown of Waterbury, where his parents and some of his siblings are still buried in Old St. Joseph’s Cemetery.

The Father Michael J. McGivney Guild

The Father Michael J. McGivney Guild serves as a source of information about the life, works and spirituality of Father McGivney. The Guild distributes informational materials about him, receives reports of favors granted through his intercession and oversees the distribution of relics. There are more than 155,000 members of the Father McGivney Guild.

The purpose of the Guild is to inspire greater personal holiness and cooperation with God’s grace by disseminating information about Father McGivney. The Guild’s goal, as stated by Dominican Father Gabriel B. O’Donnell, guild director and vice postulator of Father McGivney’s cause for canonization, is to, “spread the good word about Father McGivney’s holiness of life, to encourage devotion to his memory, and to seek his intercession before the throne of God.”

Prayer for Canonization

God, our Father, protector of the poor and defender of the widow and orphan, you called your priest, Father Michael J. McGivney, to be an apostle of Christian family life and to lead the young to the generous service of their neighbor. Through the example of his life and virtue may we follow your Son, Jesus Christ, more closely, fulfilling his commandment of charity and building up his Body which is the Church.Let the inspiration of your servant prompt us to greater confidence in your love so that we may continue his work of caring for the needy and the outcast. We humbly ask that you glorify your venerable servant Father Michael J. McGivney on earth according to the design of your holy will. 

Through his intercession, grant the favor I now present

(here make your request).


Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

(Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be.)


St. Mary Parish  | 5 Hillhouse Ave New Haven, CT 06511 | (203) 562-6193 | church@stmarysnewhaven.org

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