ROCKLAND — In honor of Blessed Father Michael McGivney’s feast day (Aug. 13), the Knights of Columbus Limerock Council #136 in Rockland and William S. Brannagan Council #3942 in Belfast invite all to gather for a special evening Mass on Thursday, Aug. 12, at 6:30 p.m. at St. Bernard Church on 150 Broadway in Rockland. Blessed Father McGivney, who was born on Aug. 12, 1852, is the patron and founder of the Knights of Columbus.

In May of 2020, Pope Francis approved the promulgation of a decree recognizing a miracle attributed to the intercession of Father McGivney, meaning that he can be declared “Blessed” and is a step away from sainthood. He was beatified in October of 2020. The miracle recognized as coming through Father McGivney’s intercession involved an unborn child in the United States who in 2015 was healed in utero of a life-threatening condition after prayers by his family to Father McGivney. An additional miracle attributed to Father McGivney’s intercession will be required for his canonization as a saint.

Father McGivney is best known for founding the Knights of Columbus in 1882. Nearly a century before the Second Vatican Council, his vision empowered the laity to serve Church and neighbor in a new way. Today, the Knights of Columbus is one of the largest Catholic organizations in the world with two million members in North and Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia, and Europe.

“Father McGivney has inspired generations of Catholic men to roll up their sleeves and put their faith into action,” Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson said. “He was decades ahead of his time in giving the laity an important role within the Church. Today, his spirit continues to shape the extraordinary charitable work of Knights as they continue to serve those on the margins of society as he served widows and orphans in the 1880s. Father McGivney also remains an important role model for parish priests around the world and left us a transformative legacy of effective cooperation between the laity and clergy.”

Born to Irish immigrant parents in 1852 in Waterbury, Connecticut, Father McGivney was a central figure in the dramatic growth of the Church in the United States in the late 19th century. Ordained in Baltimore in 1877, he ministered to a heavily Irish American and immigrant community in the then-Diocese of Hartford. At a time of anti-Catholic sentiment, he worked tirelessly to keep his flock close to the faith in part by finding practical solutions to their many problems, spiritual and temporal alike. With a group of the leading Catholic men of New Haven, he founded the Knights of Columbus in 1882 at St. Mary’s Church to provide spiritual support for Catholic men and financial resources for families that had suffered the loss of their breadwinner. The fledgling group soon became a major force in the areas of evangelization, charity, racial integration, and the defense of religious freedom. 

Father McGivney spent his entire priesthood in parish ministry and died of pneumonia on August 14, 1890, after falling ill amid a pandemic. Known by his contemporaries for his devotion to the faith and his embodiment of the characteristics of the “Good Samaritan,” his cause for sainthood was opened in the Archdiocese of Hartford in 1997.

For more information about the Mass on Aug. 12, call 207-594-5204.