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Rome Reports

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Michael McGivney, the 'people's priest' who founded the Knights of Columbus

Life wasn't easy for Catholics immigrants in the United States back in the XIX century. In the State of Connecticut, for example, they didn't have the right to buy land. For this reason, American priest Fr. Michael McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus in 1882, an organization meant to give support, both financially and spiritually, to Catholic families in need. CARL ANDERSON Supreme Knight, Knights of Columbus "He started the Knights of Columbus with the men of his parish, to come together, to support the Church, to support their families, to provide for financial security for them. But also in a way to defend the Church in a culture that wasn't always acceptable to Catholics.â? Now the Knights of Columbus have 1.8 million members in North and Central America, the Philippines, the Caribbean and Eastern Europe. This year alone, they donated $170 millions to charity. Although he is a decisive figure in American Catholicism, Fr. McGivney's message of charity and unity also reaches out to priests and laypeople all over the world. CARL ANDERSON Supreme Knight, Knights of Columbus "He represents a way, a model, for the parish priest, how he can relate to families, and how he can encourage the laity to participate more actively in the life of the Church, in the life of the parish.â? KEVIN COYNE Columbia University (New York) "He was a parish priest who didn't just serve Sunday Mass. He was very, very active in the lives of his congregants beyond the Mass. He organized a lot of activities.â? John Paul II opened his cause for canonization and Benedict XVI declared him Venerable in 2008. With the publication of his biography in Italian, the Knights of Columbus hope to further spread the message of this 'people's priest.' PM AA VM -PR Up: YJA