The recent beatification of Father Michael McGivney by the Catholic Church was cause for great celebration among Catholics throughout Connecticut, and here in the New Haven area in particular. McGiveny, a simple parish priest assigned to St Mary Church there, was elevated to the rank of Blessed.
This designation is assigned only after an arduous process of investigation and discernment. A miracle must also be attributed to the person’s intercession.
Fr. McGivney, by all accounts was a humble man, virtuous and concerned about the plight of the poor. His ministry was focused in particular, on the widows who, when left to fend for themselves, were very often destitute. In the 19th century, a woman who was widowed was left to the care of her family, assuming they had the means to provide for her.
The focus of the Knights of Columbus, which he founded, is to offer insurance that leaves widows and children provided for, and I’m sure that his ministry informed that choice .
So now, in these modern times, we stop to recognize the work of a saintly man whose life was dedicated to the care of those less fortunate.
The formality of the church’s investigation and final declaration brings me to thinking about those among us, in this day and age who might also be considered saintly — or givers, or quiet benefactors to those in need. Further, I wonder how we might quantify those qualities in these times of fractured interaction among the diverse groups that constitute our social environment.
Are there people out there who might be our modern Fr. McGivney — doing good work and helping others? Do we have in our midst, some who might themselves be candidates for saintly recognition at some time in the future?
Look around during these difficult times, and you will surely find those who are doing God’s work, quietly and in good humor. I find that sometimes I meet someone who appears to have an aura of authenticity, something akin to wearing an invisible halo. I’m usually taken by surprise, but I am immediately humbled to be with them.
We all know people like this, those who are genuine, those who you understand immediately are sincere and who are serious about their commitment to others.
Sometimes it’s a member of the clergy, someone whose calling has penetrated their very being and who walk the walk of goodness. They see themselves as a vehicle through which we can connect with the heavenly powers.
But, just as often, it’s simply someone who is going about the business of life, but doing it in a special way; a way that ultimately benefits us, even in our role as bystander.
The pandemic, of course, has driven some of these people out of their hiding places — they have had to come out into the open in order to take care of all those needy souls.
We see them in plain sight, takin care of us during these troublesome times when every little thing we do has taken on added potential for harm. These are the angels of mercy.
But if you look deeper into the landscape around you, you will be able to single out those who have dedicated themselves to making the world a better place. Sometimes we don’t appreciate them in our midst because they seem so far removed from our reality, but they are the engines of good who give us all reason to think carefully about our own commitment to giving something back.
Look around you and you may see a Fr. McGivney in training.
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