In Our Founder’s Footsteps
Supreme Knight presents charter for new council at Blessed Michael McGivney’s alma mater, St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore
Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly presented the charter for a new college council named for Blessed Michael McGivney during Solemn Vespers at St. Mary’s Seminary & University in Baltimore, where the Knights of Columbus founder completed his studies for the priesthood 145 years ago. Supreme Chaplain Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore presided over the Solemn Vespers on April 26, and Maryland State Deputy Vince Grauso and Sulpician Father Philip Brown, president-rector of St. Mary’s Seminary & University and the council’s chaplain, were also present for the occasion.
Congratulating the new members of Blessed Michael McGivney Council 17759 during the charter presentation ceremony, Supreme Knight Kelly noted that the Order’s founder is a model for the spiritual formation of all Catholic men.
“Father McGivney was extraordinary in his ordinariness,” the supreme knight said. “But Father McGivney was heroic in performing his priestly duties.”
He added, “There’s a quote that’s sometimes attributed to Teddy Roosevelt, which says ‘You should do what you can, with what you have, where you are.’ And that epitomizes Father McGivney — doing what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
Supreme Knight Kelly also shared about his recent private audience with Pope Francis and his visit to Poland and Ukraine that followed immediately afterward, during Holy Week. He said he spoke with the Holy Father about the Order’s aid for the people of Ukraine and how such aid carries on Blessed Michael McGivney’s mission.
“He praised Father McGivney,” the supreme knight noted. “And he said Father McGivney is exactly the kind of priest we need, priests who are with the people, priests who are connected to the people, priests who know the needs of the people.”
In his homily during vespers, Archbishop Lori emphasized that the chartering of Council 17759 should re-energize and motivate the seminarians and Knights alike to seek the Knights of Columbus founder’s intercession.
“It’s not every seminary in the United States that can count among its alumni, a parish priest, on his way to canonization,” the supreme chaplain said. “As we celebrate the chartering of this new council, I would ask you to redouble your prayers for Blessed Michael’s canonization and we pray that the new council will succeed not only in numbers, but above all in helping us all to imitate the example of Blessed Michael, who was formed here at the nation’s oldest seminary for the priesthood.”
Supreme Knight Kelly presented the charter to Father Brown and three of the seminarians among the council leadership: Grand Knight Michael Schultz from the Archdiocese of Louisville, Deputy Grand Knight Adam Feisthamel from the Diocese of Albany, and Chancellor Joseph Tokasz, a transitional deacon from the Diocese of Buffalo. During his remarks, Father Brown thanked the supreme knight, supreme chaplain and other dignitaries for attending the ceremony, and recalled his long association with the Knights of Columbus.
During a banquet following the charter presentation, Grand Knight Michael Schultz spoke about Father McGivney’s relevance to the seminarians at St. Mary’s.
“He shared the same struggles we share: the challenges of priestly formation in a Sulpician seminary, the many obligations of prayer, study and work,” Schultz said. “He understands our daily life as our brother, urging us on with our prayers.”
He added, “My brother seminarians and worthy brother Knights, may we live up to the example set by our friend, our brother and our fatherly guide — the namesake of this new Knights of Columbus council.”
Founded in 1791 on a hill above Baltimore’s harbor, St. Mary’s is the oldest Catholic seminary in the United States. Father McGivney attended the seminary for four years, before his ordination in 1877 by Archbishop (later Cardinal) James Gibbons. He was assigned to St. Mary’s Church in New Haven, Conn., where he founded the Knights of Columbus in 1882. The seminary has since moved five miles north from its downtown location, and the Paca Street site where Father McGivney lived and studied is now St. Mary’s Spiritual Center & Historic Site. The only structure still standing from Father McGivney’s days in Baltimore is the historic chapel where he prayed.
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