Following his beatification, McGivney’s cause will require one more authenticated miracle before he can be considered for canonization.
The priest founded the Knights of Columbus in 1882, with an eye towards providing spiritual aid to Catholic men and financial help to the widows and orphans of its members. Today it is the world’s largest Catholic fraternal service organization, with close to two million members worldwide.
Father McGivney Catholic High School opened in fall 2012 with just 19 students, after seven years of preparations. It is located in Glen Carbon, Illinois, a town of some 12,000 people about 15 miles northeast of St. Louis.
For the high school's president, Fr. Jeffrey Goeckner, V.F., the success of the school is itself a miracle.
“To date, Father McGivney Catholic High School has successfully educated and faithfully formed over 400 students while promoting ‘A Culture of Life’. Truly a miracle,” Goeckner said in a statement.
Brummer said the beatification is “uniquely special for us,” as the high school is the only U.S. Catholic high school to have McGivney as a namesake.
McGivney, who was born in Waterbury, Conn. in 1852, played a critical role in the growth of the Catholic Church in the United States in the latter part of the 19th century. After his ordination in Baltimore in 1877, he served a largely Irish-American and immigrant community in New Haven.
He was serving as a parish priest during the pandemic of 1889-1890 when he became seriously ill with pneumonia. McGivney died on Aug. 14, 1890, at the age of 38. His contemporaries remembered him for his charity towards the poor, his sympathy to those suffering afflictions, his approachability, his cheerfulness and his integrity.
Brummer said McGivney’s own life offers lessons for students.
“When we offer the life of Fr. McGivney as an example of Christian discipleship, they can see that the life that he lived, as a Catholic, a child of immigrants, a priest, and a son of a deceased father, had plenty of points of connection,” he told CNA. “One year, I presented a lesson that asked students to choose someone in their life who reminded them of Fr. McGivney. Of course, the people themselves were a wide variety, but even the reasons why they reminded them of McGivney were just as varied.”
The school closes each day with a final prayer for McGivney’s canonization, Brummer said. This daily prayer calls him “an apostle of Christian family life” and invokes his work caring for “the needy and the outcast.”
“If the people who pray the prayer listen to the words, it would be hard to not be edified by the life of the man for whose intercession we are praying.”
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
At Catholic News Agency, our team is committed to reporting the truth with courage, integrity, and fidelity to our faith. We provide news about the Church and the world, as seen through the teachings of the Catholic Church. When you subscribe to the CNA UPDATE, we'll send you a daily email with links to the news you need and, occasionally, breaking news.
As part of this free service you may receive occasional offers from us at EWTN News and EWTN. We won't rent or sell your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time.
Elizabeth Moody, the high school’s development and marketing director, said the school will celebrate McGivney’s beatification during “an intimate, socially distanced event,” live streamed to the internet.
“Father McGivney spent his entire priesthood in parish ministry and died of pneumonia on August 14, after falling ill amid a pandemic,” Moody said. “Our students can relate to Fr. McGivney on so many levels: he was young, he was rooted in service, he lived during a pandemic, and he followed the path the Lord set for him. What a wonderful reminder to our students that they too should work towards becoming saints.”
The high school will host a virtual beatification celebration Oct. 31 via Facebook Live at 7 p.m. Central Time. A video presentation will begin the event, following exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and evening prayer. Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki of Springfield, Ill. will deliver a homily, and the event will close with benediction at 8 p.m.
The high school in a statement said its founders chose McGivney as a namesake because they “wanted to honor a person who was committed to the same values they hoped to instill in its future graduates.”
“Fr. McGivney was an idealist whose youthful vision and commitment to families led to the creation of his legacy – the Knights of Columbus,” said the school.
The high school works closely with the Knights of Columbus.