The Oct. 31 beatification of Father Michael McGivney at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Hartford, Connecticut was a boost for the priesthood, the Knights of Columbus and young Catholics. 

Blessed Father McGivney, who was an American priest and recognized by the church for his humility, charity and concern for all people, founded the Knights of Columbus in 1882 as a fraternal Catholic’s men order to help widows and orphans. It is the largest lay Catholic organization in the world with two million members dedicated to a range of educational, charitable and religious activities. The Knights look up to Father McGivney for inspiration, heavenly guidance and intercession for their needs. 

Father McGivney, who died during the flu pandemic of 1889-1890, is credited with the healing of a child in the womb from a fatal condition. While Daniel and Michelle Schachle of Dickson, Tennessee were expecting their 13th child, doctors told them their unborn son had Down Syndrome.  

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A portrait of Father Michael J. McGivney, by Antonella Cappuccio. Courtesy of the Knights of Columbus

 

A few weeks later, an ultrasound diagnosed fetal hydrops, in which multiple organs were filled with fluid, and doctors said that there was no hope of survival and abortion was the best option.  

As faithful Catholics, the Schachles refused abortion and prayed to Father McGivney for a miracle. A KC insurance agent, Daniel earned a trip to the Marian Shrine in Fatima, Portugal, and brought his wife for a prayerful pilgrimage.  

During Mass in Fatima, Michelle reportedly felt something change within her when she heard the words of the 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 the unborn child was healed of fetal hydrops. Today, Michael McGivney Schachle is an active 5-year-old with Down Syndrome.  

Father McGivney is the third American-born priest to be beatified, after Blessed Stanley Rother and Blessed Solanus Casey, both of whom were beatified in 2017.  

Father McGivney is one of three beatifications, all within days of each other, demonstrating the church sees saints in the faces of the young and so much can be accomplished even in a short life.  

Blessed Carlo Acutis, teenage Italian computer whiz who died in 2005 from Leukemia, began cataloguing worldwide miracles at age 11. He completed a website dedicated to this shortly before his death at age 15. He was beatified on Oct. 10.  

Since Father McGivney’s beatification, Blessed Joan Roig i Diggle was beatified in Barcelona, Spain on Nov. 7. He was 19 years old when he was martyred for his faith during “in odium fidei,” or “fight for the faith,” during the Spanish Civil War in 1936. One night militia men took him from his home and brought him to a nearby cemetery.  

It is said when the executioners pointed their rifles at him, he uttered words of forgiveness for them. The moment they shot, he cried out, “Long live Christ the king!”