Father McGivney's Cause

The process of “saint making,” more properly called the process for canonization, is normally long and complex.

In 1997, Archbishop Daniel A. Cronin of Hartford, Conn., opened Father McGivney’s cause for canonization. Dominican Father Gabriel B. O’Donnell (pictured at right) was named the postulator, or promoter, of the cause.

Over the next three years, in collaboration with the Knights of Columbus and the archdiocese, Father O’Donnell and others compiled the historical record of Father McGivney’s life and works.

Some 700 pages of documentation – called “the acts” – were presented to Archbishop Cronin in March 2000. He attested to their authenticity and entrusted them to Father O’Donnell. That same month, Father O’Donnell conveyed the acts to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints at the Vatican. The Congregation for the Causes of Saints soon attested that the Church’s norms had been successfully met in this initial diocesan phase of the process toward sainthood.

The Congregation for the Causes of Saints appointed a relator, or advocate, to work with Father O’Donnell in the writing of the positio, or extended argument, for Father McGivney’s canonization. The relator was Dominican Father Ambrose Eszer, the chief relator at the congregation, who has shown a keen interest in Father McGivney’s cause.

The positio is nearly 1,000 pages in two volumes, one Father McGivney’s biography, the other an essay on his spirituality. The volume on spirituality is organized around his life of virtue. The biography is based on text prepared for the cause by Christopher Kauffman, professor of American Church history at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., and author of two books on the history of the Knights of Columbus.

The positio was presented to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in January 2002.

On June 30, 2000, the diocesan phase of the investigation into a reported miraculous cure attributed to Father McGivney’s intercession was completed. That report was also conveyed to the congregation, where it was under consideration for a number of years before being ruled not convincing. One miracle is required for beatification, at which time Father McGivney would be declared "Blessed." Another miracle after that declaration is required for canonization or sainthood, at which time Father McGivney would be declared “Saint.”

The important work of guiding a reported miracle through the process of approval by the Congregation of the Causes of Saints belongs to the postulator of the cause. Often, such a process requires additional information on medical terms and procedures from the locale where the reported miracle occurred.

The postulator should be present in Rome to be available to collaborate with the Congregation.In order to make this possible, the Knights of Columbus, the chief sponsor of the cause of Venerable Father Michael J. McGivney, appointed a new postulator who lives in Rome, Dr, Andrea Ambrosi. Father Gabriel B. O’Donnell will become the vice-postulator in the United States. Guild members should be aware that this is a real step forward in the progress of the cause.