I recently had the opportunity to pray for you at the tomb of Fr. Michael McGivney in our parish of St. Mary’s in New Haven, Connecticut. As I did so, a fog lifted from my eyes. 20/20 usually refers to perfect vision, but the lack of clear perception in the year 2020 has been palpable. In a world beset by pandemic, lockdowns, ethnic unrest, and political divisions, it has become harder to see the path of faith and reason.
Providentially, this year has also seen the beatification of a man who carried crosses similar to ours and who can be a guiding light in these times. Blessed Michael McGivney’s immigrant parents were discriminated against because of their country of origin and their Catholic religion. His working class parishioners struggled economically. He lost his own life to a pandemic at age 38.
Before he died, Fr. McGivney called together a band of brothers, knights, who would battle the evils of their day. Undaunted by adversity, he persevered because he was filled with zeal from his faith in Christ. Today the Knights of Columbus continue to stand united in charity and truth—and suffer criticism for it, even by US Senators in violation of our Constitution.
The Dominican friars stand with them as their chaplains, pastors, retreat directors, and friends. As you will read in an article by Fr. Patrick Briscoe, O.P., this relationship dates back to Fr. McGivney himself, who befriended the Dominicans who served his parish, St. Mary’s, just after his departure. He was even found wearing the Dominican scapular when he died.
Like St. Dominic, Fr. Michael McGivney was a true child of our Blessed Mother, who in every age raises up an army to battle the forces of evil. Sometimes this battle takes a practical form, as when Blessed McGivney trained his Knights to be better husbands and fathers or care for the families of men who had lost their lives in industrial accidents. As a supporter of the Dominican Friars, you know that it can also take the form of a conflict of ideas that shape the soul of a nation.
Kneeling at Blessed McGivney’s tomb, I saw clearly that, although the battle is pitched and the stakes high, our present situation is not unprecedented. I am convinced that Mary is again raising up an army loyal to her divine Son. In union with our growing band of preachers and our friends the Knights, I invite you to join the battle by praying the rosary, considering a Marian consecration, and in whatever ways, big or small, providence affords.
Yours in Christ,
Fr. Gabriel Gillen, O.P.
Dominican Friars Foundation