Adult: Parish Priest
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Title: Parish Priest: Father Michael McGivney and American Catholicism
Author: Douglas Brinkley and Julie Fenster
Publisher: William Morrow
Date Published: January 2006
Comments: Fr. McGivney, a Connecticut parish priest who helped to transform
American Catholicism, is under consideration for sainthood.
From Publishers Weekly
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. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All
"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
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.
About the Author
Douglas Brinkley is a Clark professor of history and director of the Theodore
Roosevelt Center at Tulane University. His most recent publications include
the New York Times bestsellers The Boys of Pointe Du Hoc and Tour of Duty, and
The Mississippi and the Making of a Nation with Stephen A. Ambrose. He lives
in New Orleans, Louisiana, with his family.
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