By Cecilia Hadley
A first-class relic of Blessed Michael McGivney visited Texas in early March, traveling almost 900 miles through three dioceses and drawing thousands to venerate the Knights of Columbus founder.
From March 5 to 9, the reliquary made stops at five parishes, including two cathedrals, in Keller, San Angelo, Odessa, Lubbock and Wichita Falls. At each church, Masses were said, Father McGivney’s story was shared, and Knights and other parishioners had the chance to pray for the priest’s intercession in front of his relic.
“The purpose of the tour is to raise awareness of Blessed Michael’s life and mission and charism, but also to increase devotion, to let people know that they can ask his intercession,” explained Dominican Father Jonathan Kalisch, the Order’s director of chaplains and spiritual development, who accompanied the relic. “The Catechism speaks about a spiritual exchange of goods between we who are still on earth and all those who have gone before us, especially blesseds and saints. Their prayers for us can be very effective from heaven.”
A steady stream of people came to ask for those prayers.
“Not one minute was Father McGivney alone,” noted Knights of Columbus General Agent Chris Stark, who organized the pilgrimage. Stark had to ask for an additional shipment of prayer cards and other materials from the Supreme Council only a day into the tour.
The turnout at Holy Redeemer Church in Odessa, where the relic traveled escorted by a group of Knights on motorcycles, was particularly large. Hundreds of people venerated the relic before a packed weeknight Mass on March 7.
During the week, Father Kalisch and Stark also brought Father McGivney to three schools, two K of C exemplifications, a priests’ retreat, a pediatric hospital, and even the grave of a Knight who had died a few days before.
Everywhere they went, Stark said, he could feel Father McGivney at work — but nowhere more so than during this graveside visit on the last day of the pilgrimage.
Brad Wolf, the grand knight of Ketteler Council 1824 in Windthorst, had died March 3, leaving his wife, Dena, and their 11-year-old daughter, Riley. He was 39. Stark, whose agency handled Brad’s life insurance policy, offered to bring the relic to his family in Windthorst. Dena, Riley and other family members met him and Father Kalisch at their parish before going together to the cemetery where Brad had been buried the day before.
“We were never planning on coming to Windthorst,” Stark told Dena. “But God knew we were coming, Blessed Michael McGivney knew we were coming. He is here to bring you comfort as he greatly understands the grieving.”
“When Father Kalisch put the relic in Dena’s arms, she just hugged it with a sense of peace on her face,” Stark later recalled. “This is what Father McGivney founded us for, to aid the widow and the orphan. He had to come there. Father McGivney is still working — he’s working hard.”