General News

An Encounter with Father McGivney

Posted on May 02, 2024 in: General News

An Encounter with Father McGivney

K of C chaplains travel from Poland to visit sites associated with the Order’s founder


By Cecilia Engbert


Twenty-one Knights of Columbus chaplains from Poland made a pilgrimage in the northeast United States, April 8-16, walking in the footsteps of Blessed Michael McGivney and visiting holy sites, churches and places of national interest from Connecticut to Washington, D.C.

The international pilgrimage, the first of its kind for Polish priests, was born from a desire for K of C chaplains to encounter the Order’s founder in a more concrete, personal way. Father Wiesław Lenartowicz, chaplain of Our Lady of Częstochowa Council 14004 in Radom and associate state chaplain of Poland, was inspired to help organize the pilgrimage after personally visiting sites associated with Father McGivney two years ago.

“These places have their own spirit that should be shown and promoted, because it helps us to understand Father McGivney’s actions and motivation,” he explained.

The chaplains first toured New Haven, Connecticut, where they visited the Blessed Michael McGivney Pilgrimage Center, celebrated Mass at St. Mary’s Church and prayed with Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly and others at the tomb of Blessed Michael McGivney. They also visited Waterbury, where Father McGivney was born in 1852, and Thomaston, where he died in 1890.

The pilgrimage then took the chaplains to Baltimore, where they celebrated Mass with Supreme Chaplain Archbishop William Lori at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Michael McGivney was ordained in the basilica in 1877.

“As you walk in this pilgrimage in the footsteps of Father McGivney, perhaps this is a moment to reflect back on your own ordination day, to recall the joy and beauty of that day,” Archbishop Lori told the chaplains in his homily. “Priests like Blessed Michael give us an example of the way in which apostolic zeal can transform all things. In each parish where he served, in the face of a culture hostile to the Church, aware of the many needs of those around him, Blessed Michael announced the victory of Christ.”

The Polish chaplains also visited the Saint John Paul II National Shrine and the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.; the National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton in Emmitsburg, Maryland; and the Shrine of Our Lady of Częstochowa in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. They concluded their pilgrimage with Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City.

Along the way, they had opportunities to tour several U.S. landmarks, including Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Gettysburg Battlefield in Pennsylvania and the Statue of Liberty in New York.

Experiencing the places Father McGivney lived and worked, and learning more about the history of the Catholic Church in the U.S., was illuminating for Father Krystian Wilczyński, chaplain of St. Sister Faustina Council 17906 in Gdańsk.

“Father McGivney read the signs of the time and looked for solutions to specific things,” Father Wilczyński said. “This is what I take with me from this pilgrimage — courage, the will to act.”

The success of the pilgrimage was a great joy to Father Lenartowicz.

“I see in the priests how they have changed their understanding of the activities of the Knights of Columbus,” he said. “It will certainly help us in promoting both the Order and devotion to Father McGivney.”

“The most important thing I experienced were the principles by which the Knights of Columbus live,” said Father Wilczyński. “You could say that Blessed Michael McGivney, as our father, led us. I feel that he allowed us to experience unity, fraternity and charity.”


CECILIA ENGBERT is a content producer for the Knights of Columbus communications department.