Cardinal Bertone Supports Cause

by Father Gabriel B. O’Donnell, O.P.

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Cardinal Bertone speaks about the support for canonization of Father Michael J. McGivney

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone

I am anxious to report the good news regarding the cause for canonization of the Servant of God, Father Michael J. McGivney.

The Knights of Columbus held its 125th annual international convention in Nashville, Tenn., Aug. 7-9. The guest of honor was Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican secretary of state and a close collaborator with Pope Benedict XVI.

During his homily at the convention’s opening Mass, Cardinal Bertone acknowledged that Father McGivney’s cause holds important pastoral significance for the Church in North America and for Knights around the world.

The cardinal expressed his intention to support the cause in Rome, where it is under review by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

Cardinal Bertone has grasped the implications that Father McGivney’s beatification will have for the English-speaking Catholic world and for Knights and their families. To have such support from a high-ranking member of the Roman Curia should stir both hope and encouragement in all of Father McGivney’s Knights and devotees.

It is a signal that Guild members should pray with renewed fervor and a certain urgency that Father McGivney’s beatification will soon become a reality.

Father McGivney’s beatification would affirm the call to holiness for all who are busy living out the demands of their particular vocations.

For priests and those who aspire to the priesthood, Father McGivney has become a prophetic challenge. His life proves that one can have a vital relationship with Jesus Christ while shouldering heavy pastoral duties. Simply put, a parish priest can be a saint.

The witness of Father McGivney’s life challenges all priests and seminarians to keep clear priorities as they face diminishing numbers and a certain flagging of morale. His beatification would bring all of this to the fore.

Father McGivney’s cause stands at an important moment. The process, as outlined by the norms of the Church, has been completed. We have presented to the Holy See both the positio for life and virtue and the positio for a reported miracle. While we await the judgment of the Congregation, it is encouraging that the Vatican secretary of state has recognized the impact that this cause will have on the life of the Church.

Father Michael J. McGivney was a newly ordained priest when he founded the Knights of Columbus during his time as curate of St. Mary’s Church in New Haven, Conn. While his ideas were taken up with enthusiasm by the young “go ahead” Catholic men of the city, his fellow priests were more cautious, some in clear opposition.

How could an inexperienced parish priest dare put forth a plan that directed young men to become solid leaders of family and society, that sought to nurture in them the life of Christian holiness?

It was a tall order, and some of his contemporaries doubted that young Father McGivney was so talented or enlightened.

History has proven them wrong on both counts. This was a man possessed of unusual insight and imagination, as well as a winning way with men and women from every walk of life.

Father McGivney “was a man of the people.” He belonged to the workingman and his family as much as to the wealthy and influential members of the city.

In the final year of his life, as he lay dying in his rectory in Thomaston, Conn., in 1890, Father McGivney realized that the brotherhood he founded was a success and was growing beyond the borders of Connecticut.

He had lain down principles that would hold true no matter the enlargement and expansion of the Order; he had carefully instructed those first members with zeal and enthusiasm.

The key to understanding Father McGivney’s vision is found in the profound insight into human nature that flowed from his own life, a nature that was both reflective and spiritual.

His clear understanding of what it means to be a man and his personal relationship to Jesus Christ served as the cornerstone of his important work.

All Guild members are invited to join together in prayer that God will raise Father McGivney to the honors of the altar.

Dominican Father Gabriel B. O’Donnell is director of the Father Michael J. McGivney Guild and vice postulator of Father McGivney’s cause for canonization.