Archbishop Lori: St John Vianney, Bl Michael McGivney were both 'exemplary pastors of souls'

Lori Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore delivers a homily during a Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore, Md., May 31, 2021./ © 2021 Catholic Review Media. Photo: Kevin J. Parks/CR Staff. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, Supreme Chaplain of the Knights of Columbus, on Wednesday highlighted the similarities between St. John Vianney and Blessed Michael McGivney, the founder of the Knights. 

He made the comparison during his homily at a Mass concluding the fraternal organization’s annual convention Aug. 4.

The Knights of Columbus, the world’s largest Catholic fraternal organization, has over 2 million members in 16,000 councils worldwide. The order was founded in 1882 by McGivney, a Connecticut parish priest. Initially, the organization was intended to assist widows and their families upon the deaths of their husbands. 

The feast of St. John Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests, is celebrated Aug. 4 in the ordinary form of the Roman rite. Vianney’s pastoral care, especially his willingness to spend hours each day in the confessional, ultimately meant his parish was thriving by the time he died, Archbishop Lori noted. 

Fr. McGivney was beatified Oct. 31 last year, with Pope Francis praising his “zeal for the proclamation of the Gospel” which “made him an outstanding witness of Christian solidarity and fraternal assistance.”

McGivney and Vianney’s lifetimes overlapped by seven years, and both were “exemplary pastors of souls.” The “Good Shepherd’s heart” filled both these men, Archbishop Lori said; they felt the suffering of their people, and helped to turn their minds and hearts from sin and error. 

This kind of authentic charity and mercy are to be the hallmarks of all our lives, Archbishop Lori said, saying the Lord is asking all Knights to practice “a charity that evangelizes...so rooted in the person of Christ that it leads many into the heart of the Gospel.”

Archbishop Lori’s celebration of the Mass concludes the Knights’ 139th annual convention, held at St. Mary’s Church in New Haven, where Blessed McGivney is buried. The Knights normally convene in-person each year, but 2021 marks the second year in a row that the meeting has been held virtually.

In the past year, the Knights have provided more than $150 million in donations and more than 47 million hours of hands-on volunteer service, Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly said Aug. 3. 

Some notable charitable projects include support for Special Olympics, scholarships for seminarians, and funds to rebuild churches in the Middle East and other aid for persecuted Christians both there and in countries like Nigeria. 

Kelly announced that the Knights are and will continue to be major sponsors of the US bishops’ planned Eucharistic revival, set to take place over the next few years.

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