Synopses & Reviews
"Father McGivney's vision remains as relevant as ever in the changed circumstances of today's church and society."—Pope John Paul II
Is now the time for an American parish priest to be declared a Catholic saint?
In Father Michael McGivney (1852-1890), born and raised in a Connecticut factory town, the modern era's ideal of the priesthood hit its zenith. The son of Irish immigrants, he was a man to whom "family values" represented more than mere rhetoric. And he left a legacy of hope still celebrated around the world.
In the late 1800s, discrimination against American Catholics was widespread. Many Catholics struggled to find work and ended up in infernolike mills. An injury or the death of the wage earner would leave a family penniless. The grim threat of chronic homelessness and even starvation could fast become realities. Called to action in 1882 by his sympathy for these suffering people, Father McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus, an organization that has helped to save countless families from the indignity of destitution. From its uncertain beginnings, when Father McGivney was the only person willing to work toward its success, it has grown to an international membership of 1.7 million men.
At heart, though, Father McGivney was never anything more than an American parish priest, and nothing less than that, either—beloved by children, trusted by young adults, and regarded as a "positive saint" by the elderly in his New Haven parish.
In an incredible work of academic research, Douglas Brinkley (The Boys of Pointe Du Hoc, Tour of Duty) and Julie M. Fenster (Race of the Century, Ether Day) re-create the life of Father McGivney, a fiercely dynamic yet tenderhearted man. Though he was only thirty-eight when he died, Father McGivney has never been forgotten. He remains a true "people's priest," a genuinely holy man—and perhaps the most beloved parish priest in U.S. history. Moving and inspirational, Parish Priest chronicles the process of canonization that may well make Father McGivney the first American-born parish priest to be declared a saint by the Vatican.
"Fr. Michael McGivney (1852 1890) is under consideration for sainthood in the Roman Catholic Church. So why has almost no one heard of this Connecticut parish priest who helped to transform American Catholicism? McGivney entered seminary when he was just 16 and studied there until his father's unexpected death forced him, the eldest child, to abandon his studies and support his family. Although the diocese eventually came through with a scholarship, McGivney never forgot the devastation of his family's sudden poverty and devoted much of his priestly life to helping the Catholic poor. He founded the Knights of Columbus, an organization that simultaneously met two critical needs of Catholics in the late 19th century: it was an insurance policy for the indigent, and its devotion to America and patriotic ideals helped to assuage anti-Catholic prejudice. Brinkley and Fenster offer a popular history that is accessible in style and respectful, albeit at times hagiographic, in tone." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Acclaimed historian and biographer Douglas Brinkley, the New York Times bestselling author of Tour of Duty and The Boys of Pointe du Hoc, returns with an inandndash;depth biography of Father Michael J. McGivney, the Roman Catholic priest who stood up to antiandndash;Papal prejudice in America and founded The Knights of Columbus.
"Father McGivney's vision remains as relevant as ever in the changed circumstances of today's Church and society."
andndash;andndash;Pope John Paul II
Just about every day Catholic laymen bound in a common association gather to advance the welfare of their communities. They meet in harbor towns of Nova Scotia, suburban New Jersey, Mexican cities and Philippine villages. Some will help families pay off medical bills or secure aid for disaster victims. Others will help finance Catholic schools or independent living for people with disabilities.
They are the Knights of Columbus, the legacy of Father Michael J. McGivney. Since Father McGivney's cause for canonization began in 1997, the spreading of his story has increased. The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. has added a stainedandndash;glass widow depicting his image.
Father McGivney dedicated his life to the spiritual and physical welfare of others, creating the Knights of Columbus to provide insurance for the protection of widows and orphans. Today, a growing number of schools, medical centres and social service agencies named for him associate their work with his charisma, and the Knights of Columbus insures the lives of more than 1.2 million men, women and children.
About the Author
Douglas Brinkley is professor of history and director of the Roosevelt Center at Tulane University. Four of his books were selected as New York Times Notable Books of the Year. His last three historical narratives Tour of Duty, The Boys of Pointe du Hoc, and Parish Priest were all New York Times bestsellers. A contributing editor to Vanity Fair and American Heritage, he lives in New Orleans with his wife, Anne, and their two children, Benton and Johnny.