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Pastor's Letters

JOYFUL NEWS IN THIS TIME OF DIFFICULTY: FATHER McGIVNEY, A MIRACLE AND A BEATIFICATION

Updated: Oct 13

Many of you have heard the news, but in case anyone has not, this past Wednesday the Vatican announced that a miracle, attributed to the intercession of Ven. Fr. Michael J. McGivney, had been approved by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and confirmed by Pope Francis. With the recognition of this miracle, Father McGivney will soon be beatified and be the next “Blessed” in the Church. As a Blessed, public devotion to him will be permitted, and he will be one step away from being declared a full saint in the Catholic Church. This is an exciting moment in the history of our parish, the Knights of Columbus, and indeed our country and our Church. “Announcement day,” as I am calling it, was a complete whirlwind around St. Mary’s, as requests for interviews poured in from media sources based in New Haven all the way to international sources in Rome. TV news crews were appearing at the church sporadically throughout the day, and the intense flurry of activity made the day fly by. It was a wonderful, exciting, exhausting day that I believe most of us here are still in the process of recovering from. I recall thinking to myself at one point during the day that it was unfortunate that the announcement came in the midst of the pandemic. Despite the flurry of activity, we spent the day wearing face masks and keeping social distancing. Interviews were more difficult to understand and our prayers said around Fr. McGivney’s tomb were muffled. In a nonpandemic time, I am almost certain there would have been a spontaneous FLOOD of people parishioners, Knights, and other Catholics in the areawho would have flocked to St. Mary’s Church to pray at the tomb, perhaps leave flowers there or a lit candle nearby. Alas, it was not to be. A small trickle of people passed by St. Mary’s during the course of the day, some hollering “congrats!” through their masks as they did so. But the realities of the COVID pandemic prevented much of that spontaneous celebration from happening. However, as I have reflected more deeply, I also think this was the ideal time for us to receive this joyful news in this time when we are 10+ weeks into the pandemic lockdown. I think it is safe to say that the last ten weeks have been a difficult road. Whether the suffering we have experienced is due to the loss of a loved one to the virus, or loss of our income, or the loss of our freedom to go about our lives as we had before, none of us have escaped this pandemic unscathed. And into the midst of all this… a miracle from Fr. McGivney! Into the midst of this uncertainty, we have confirmation from Holy Mother Church that a miracle has been worked through the intercession of Father McGivney. “Our” Father McGivney. The humble priest of our parish, whom many of us have believed for a long time was in heaven, has interceded in a miracle worked on earth. More than ever, now is the time for us to “storm heaven” with prayers to Father McGivney. Whether it is yourself who needs a miracle, or a family member, or someone you know in our parish… or whether the miracle is simply to pray for the ending of this pandemic, I echo the words of St. Paul, “now is the acceptable time; now is the day of salvation” (2Cor 6:2) to once again ask Fr. McGivney to intercede for us. Surely he who had such a profound love for his parishioners during his time on earth has an even more profound love for us, his parishioners, now that he is in heaven! There is another reason why this might be such a providential time to receive the news we did. I learned very recently that there has been some new research about what may have caused Fr. McGivney’s early death at the age of 38. It was from pneumonia caused by something being called at the time the “Russian Flu,” which was ravaging the whole world in 18891890. But on the basis of researching the symptoms being reported about those who had this flu, combined with some genetic testing of virus samples, there is a strong possibility that the pandemic that ultimately felled Fr. McGivney was not a flu pandemic at all, but a coronavirus pandemic! While this hasn’t been established with certainty, if that was indeed the case, what might this be saying to us? For a confirmation of the power of Fr. McGivney to work miracles to come to us in the midst of the same pandemic surely cannot be a mere coincidence. As we all look forward to the official announcement about when and where the beatification will take place, let us all raise our voices together and cry out with great hope and great faith, “Venerable Father Michael J. McGivney, pray for us!”


God Bless,

Fr. John Paul




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

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