By Jessica Easthope and Bill Miller
Members of the Knights of Columbus filled St. Finbar Church Friday, Aug. 14, to celebrate the first feast day of their founder, Blessed Father Michael J. McGivney.
An honor guard of saber-toting knights, dressed in their newly authorized berets, stood by as fellow Knights from all over New York City and Long Island lined the central aisle for the chance to view and touch a Father McGivney relic.
During the Mass, retired Auxiliary Bishop Octavio Cisneros and Father Michael Gelfant, the homilist, urged continued prayers for the second miracle needed to complete Father McGivney’s canonization to sainthood.
They also reminded the congregants that ordinary people could become extraordinary through benevolent acts. Such has been the work of the Knights of Columbus since 1882, when Father McGivney founded the service group at New Haven, Connecticut.
Father Gelfant said serving in the Knights of Columbus is one way to answer the “universal call to holiness,” which, he said, “reminds the ordinary person that you are called to become a saint.”
“Then,” he added, “while we come to venerate the saints, we too are trying to become like them. And hopefully, with their intercession, we achieve this holiness.”
Father Gelfant is a chaplain for the Knights of Columbus, a former pastor of St. Finbar, and currently the pastor of Blessed Trinity Parish in Rockaway Point, Queens.
He described how Father McGivney, at age 30, was just an average parish priest when he “responded to a need in his local parish to help the widows and the orphans.”
“He prayed with them,” Father Gelfant added. “But as a preacher, he always wanted to do more. So from that, he formed this group … called the Knights of Columbus.”
He recalled how during the COVID-19 pandemic, Knights from Kings and Queens counties launched efforts to help feed people who suffered the cruelty of the coronavirus.
“Because the Knights of Columbus — we do crazy things. Don’t we? As we say, ‘Where there was a need, there is a Knight,’ ” Father Gelfant said.
Father McGivney died of pneumonia at age 38. Last year, Pope Francis announced the priest’s cause for sainthood was approved for beatification and declared him “blessed.”
Bishop Cisneros, like Father Gelfant, is a member of the Knights of Columbus.
“We need heroes,” he said before the Mass. “The church needs men who are convinced of their faith, willing to express their faith, and then go out and help the poor. That’s what the Knights of Columbus do. That’s what Christ has asked us to do.
“And, you know, Father McGivney was just that.”