Knights of Columbus Founder Declared Venerable

Father McGivney Sought to Help Immigrant Families

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NEW HAVEN, Connecticut, MARCH 16, 2008 ( The founder of the Knights of Columbus was declared venerable by Benedict XVI, furthering his process toward possibly becoming the first American-born priest to be canonized.

The Pope approved Saturday a decree recognizing the heroic virtue of Father Michael McGivney.

"All of us who are members of the Knights of Columbus are profoundly grateful for this recognition of the holiness of our founder," said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. "The strength of the Knights of Columbus today is a testament to his timeless vision, his holiness and his ideals."

Worried about the religious faith and financial stability of immigrant families, Father McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus with the help of several men of St. Mary's Parish in New Haven in 1882 to help strengthen the faith of the men of his parish and to provide financial assistance in the event of their death to the widows and orphans they left behind. He was also known for his tireless work among his parishioners.

Michael McGivney was born in Connecticut in 1852 to parents who were natives of Ireland and immigrants to the United States.

From an early age, he realized a calling to the priesthood and was ordained in 1877 in Baltimore, Maryland.

His cause for canonization was opened in December 1997.

Still maintaining its headquarters in New Haven, the Knights of Columbus is the world's largest Catholic fraternal organization with more than 1.7 million members in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Central America, the Caribbean islands, the Philippines, Guam and, most recently, Poland.