Founder’s story provides inspiration to priests and brother Knights
By William Nardi
Father Dan Guenther of Saint Mary’s Council 8592 in Humboldt, Iowa, loved watching Father McGivney: An American Blessed so much, he’s gifting copies of the documentary to every K of C council in his state.
His parish receives a large number of magazines, promotional materials and church supplies that he combs through each week. Some of it ends up in the recycling bin, but when he saw a listing for the 27-minute Father McGivney documentary, he felt compelled to order it.
“Then a few weeks later it arrived, and I watched it one evening and my initial response was that it caught me. I thought this was something every K of C member, especially newly joined members, should look at it,” he added.
The documentary, which all Knights of Columbus council is encouraged to show both to members and for their parish at large, explores Father McGivney’s life in depth. Father Guenther, who describes himself as a bit of a history buff, said he appreciated learning about the various experiences that inspired Father McGivney to found the Knights of Columbus.
“I knew he was in Connecticut, lived during the latter part of the 1800s, died as a young priest and that was about it. I didn’t realize his father died when he was in seminary, which explains his concern for widows, the less fortunate, and the story about Chip Smith [a young man whom Father McGivney helped during prison ministry] — these are such great things for our guys to know to motivate them,” he said.
Father Guenther was moved by Blessed McGivney’s complete dedication to his parish.
“This was inspirational to me, especially because he served in tough times when the Irish were rejected by society. And yet he maintained what he was doing and started the K of C,” Father Guenther said.
As a Knight for 25 years and a Fourth Degree member, Father Guenther compares learning about Father McGivney to members of religious orders learning the story of their founders. He decided to start by sharing the video with his brother Knights in Iowa.
“I looked it up online and saw we had 242 councils, and I had a number of priest friends that were quite involved, and I thought about it, prayed about it over the weekend. And I said I’m going to pay to get this sent to every council in the state,” Father Guenther said.
“In these hectic days, everyone is feeling down with fatigue, so I figured all people need some sort of boost. And I found the documentary is doing that for me and others,” he added, noting his council is not currently meeting in person because of COVID-19 restrictions.
Describing council members as the “hidden heroes of the parish,” Father Guenther said there’s no job too big or small for his Knights — from day-to-day parish activities to major construction projects. Father Guenther said he also knew he could count on them to lend a hand when he reached out to the council’s grand knight Brian Jergens to help him distribute the DVDs.
“He was thrilled to pieces about this, so that’s how it fell into place here,” Father Guenther said.
Thanks to their efforts, soon every council in Iowa will have their own copy of Father Michael McGivney: An American Blessed.
Every Knights of Columbus council is encouraged to share Father McGivney: An American Blessed with their members and with their parish community. Order your copy on Knights Gear.
Originally published in a weekly edition of Knightline, a resource for K of C leaders and members. To access Knightline’s archives, click here.
Share your story of devotion to Blessed Michael McGivney by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.