Is now the time for an American parish priest to be declared a Catholic saint?
Born and raised in a Connecticut factory town, the son of Irish immigrants, Father Michael McGivney’s (1852-1890) legacy of hope is still celebrated around the world. At a time when discrimination against American Catholics, homelessness, and starvation were widespread, Father McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus, an organization that has helped save countless families from the indignity of destitution.
In this moving and inspirational work, Douglas Brinkley, the New York Times bestselling author of The Great Deluge and The Boys of Pointe du Hoc, and award-winning author Julie M. Fenster re-create the all-too-brief life of perhaps the most beloved parish priest in U.S. history and chronicle the process of canonization that may well make this fiercely dynamic yet tenderhearted man the first American-born priest to be declared a saint by the Vatican.
“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 inferno like 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, a 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.
July 17th, 2006
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“In their stirring new book, Parish Priest, Brinkley and Fenster not only trace the too-brief life of Father Michael Mcgivney, but also use his career to give the reader an intimate glimpse of an immense story: the rise of the Catholic Church in this country. An engrossing and affecting tale.” – Richard Snow, editor, American Heritage Magazine
“As a boy, I remember my father’s proud membership in what then seemed to me a faintly mysterious society, the Knights of Columbus. This engaging story parts the curtain to reveal this admirable organization’s roots and its creator, a humble parish priest, a current candidate for sainthood who, in the layman’s sense, already is one.”
– Joseph E. Persico, author of 11th month, 11th day, 11th house, Armistice Day 1918
“At a time when the Catholic priesthood has lost a great deal of respect because the sex abuse scandals involving the clergy, it is refreshing to read this inspiring biography of a Catholic priest who devoted his life, to the service of others.”
– Jay P. Dolan, professor emeritus of history, University of Notre Dame, and author of The American Catholic Experience and In Search of an American Catholicism
“This is a wonderfully told tale of a good friend of the voiceless and of the dramatic rise of Irish Catholicism in the swelling slums of our industrial cities. It reaches out over a century of time to speak to the public and spiritual deficiencies of our own age.”
– Donald L. Miller, Author of City of the Century: The Epic of Chicago and the Making of Modern America
“If politics needs leaders and sports heroes, religion needs saints. This excellent account of the life of Father McGivney by Brinkley and Fenster is astute and sensitive. This book should remind readers of the true meaning of religion: commitment, love, justice, sacrifice, forgiveness.”
-John Patrick Diggens, distinguished professor of history, Graduate Center, City University Of New York