COLUMBUS – Fr. Jonathan Kalisch, O.P., Director of Chaplains and Spiritual Development for the Knights of Columbus, delivered a speech this evening to seminarians and priest faculty at the Pontifical College Josephinum. The Dominican priest exuded a spirit of joy and camaraderie which was contagious, working the room as he distributed copies of a recent biography of Fr. McGivney, and warmly greeted as many seminarians as he could personally meet.
Fr. Kalisch spoke about the life of Fr. Michael J. McGivney (1852-1890), founder of the Knights of Columbus, as a model of American Catholic priesthood. As a seminarian from a poor Irish Catholic family living in 19th century Connecticut, McGivney realized that as a priest he could not expect to live past the age of 40. He died at 38, having served as a priest for only 13 years among the sick and disenfranchised Irish immigrant community. Despite the prevailing atmosphere of poverty and persecution, he founded what has since become the largest Catholic men’s fraternal organization in the world, boasting over 1.8 million members and supporting many charitable causes each year such as the March for Life and the Special Olympics. These programs are made possible in part by donations, but also through the revenue generated by the organization’s top-rated life insurance program. Originally established in 1882 as a way to assist needy immigrant families, this program is now what Fr. Kalisch calls “the number one reason” for a man to join a Knights Council. “Reinvestment in the Catholic faith,” he noted in his talk, happens whenever families choose to put their insurance premiums toward supporting the Knights’ charitable work rather than a for-profit insurance company.
Regarding the seminarians’ future roles as Knights of Columbus chaplains, Fr. Kalisch echoed Pope Francis by urging them worry less about fundraising, and more about evangelizing and caring for the families of the parish. “If we’re a family organization, that’s what we have to promote!”Tags » Fr. Michael J. McGivney, Knights of Columbus, March for Life, Pontifical College Josephinum, seminarians