Never robust in health, Father McGivney was suddenly stricken with a serious case of pneumonia in January 1890. It hung on. Various treatments for consumptive illness were tried, but his decline continued. The young priest lost physical strength just as the Order he founded was moving toward new vitality, and died on August 14, two days past his 38th birthday.
Later that August, one of the largest funerals in the history of Waterbury, Conn., took place. The bishop of Hartford and more than 70 of Connecticut’s Catholic priests were joined by many civic leaders and throngs of other attendees. It was reported that mourners rented every available carriage within miles for the great procession.
Father McGivney’s funeral was an indication of the love and respect the people felt for this hard-working, holy parish priest. It also reflected the deep personal appeal that immigrant Catholics immediately found in the Knights of Columbus.
Delegations were present from almost every one of the 57 Knights of Columbus councils that had been chartered in the Order’s first eight years.
To mark their 100th anniversary in 1982, the Knights of Columbus brought the remains of Father McGivney from Waterbury back to St. Mary’s Church in New Haven, where he founded the Order. There he now rests, in a setting in which daily Mass is offered for deceased Knights and prayers are said in his honor.