Father Michael J. McGivney (1852-1890), born and raised in a Connecticut factory town, the modern era’s ideal of the priesthood hit its zenith. The son of Irish immigrants, he was a man to whom “family values” represented more than mere rhetoric. He left a legacy of hope still celebrated around the world.
In the late 1800s, discrimination against American Catholics was widespread. Many Catholics struggled to find work and ended up in inferno like mills. An injury or the death of the wage earner would leave a family penniless. The grim threat of chronic homelessness and even starvation could fast become realities. Called to action in 1882 by his sympathy for these suffering people, Father McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus.
The Knights of Columbus was formed as a fraternal benefit society offering low-cost life insurance to Catholic families facing destitution if a breadwinner died. Through the Knights of Columbus, Father McGivney gave Catholic laymen a new opportunity and the chance to grow in holiness while contributing to their parishes, communities and security of their families. Today, more and more Church leaders are recognizing his spiritual genius in animating the laity.
Today the Knights of Columbus has more than $50 billion of life insurance in force. Its insurance program has received the highest possible ratings from both the A. M. Best Co. and Standard & Poor’s.