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Parish Priest: Father Michael McGivney and American Catholicism [Hardcover]

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Item description for Parish Priest: Father Michael McGivney and American Catholicism by Douglas Brinkley & J. M. Fenster...

Profiles Father Michael McGivney, a Catholic priest and founder of the Knights of Columbus, who built a way for laymen to make a substantial and enduring contribution to their parishes and communities, and to the security of their families.

Publishers Description

"Father McGivney's vision remains as relevant as ever in the changed circumstances of today's church and society."—Pope John Paul II

Is now the time for an American parish priest to be declared a Catholic saint?

In Father Michael 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. And 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 infernolike 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, an organization that has helped to save countless families from the indignity of destitution. From its uncertain beginnings, when Father McGivney was the only person willing to work toward its success, it has grown to an international membership of 1.7 million men.

At heart, though, Father McGivney was never anything more than an American parish priest, and nothing less than that, either—beloved by children, trusted by young adults, and regarded as a "positive saint" by the elderly in his New Haven parish.

In an incredible work of academic research, Douglas Brinkley (The Boys of Pointe Du Hoc, Tour of Duty) and Julie M. Fenster (Race of the Century, Ether Day) re-create the life of Father McGivney, a fiercely dynamic yet tenderhearted man. Though he was only thirty-eight when he died, Father McGivney has never been forgotten. He remains a true "people's priest," a genuinely holy man—and perhaps the most beloved parish priest in U.S. history. Moving and inspirational, Parish Priest chronicles the process of canonization that may well make Father McGivney the first American-born parish priest to be declared a saint by the Vatican.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: William Morrow
Pages   240
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.75" Width: 5.75" Height: 8.75"
Weight:   0.95 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Feb 1, 2006
Publisher   Harper Collins Publishers
ISBN  0060776846  
ISBN13  9780060776848  

Availability  0 units.

More About Douglas Brinkley & J. M. Fenster

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Douglas Brinkley is a professor of history at Rice University, CBS News Historian, and a contributing editor at Vanity Fair. The Chicago Tribune has dubbed him "America's new past master." Seven of his books have been selected as New York Times Notable Books of the Year. Cronkite won the Sperber Prize for Best Book in Journalism and was a Washington Post Notable Book of the Year 2012. The Great Deluge won the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award. He lives in Texas with his wife and three children. Brinkley has been awarded honorary doctorates from Trinity College (Connecticut), University of Maine, Hofstra University, and Allegheny College, among many others.

Douglas Brinkley has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Library of America

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > General
2Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > Leaders & Notable People > Religious
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Catholicism > Roman Catholicism
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living > General

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Books > Church & Ministry > Church Life > Roman Catholic

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Reviews - What do customers think about Parish Priest: Father Michael McGivney and American Catholicism?

wow...  Mar 21, 2007
This is a great little book, and a quick read. However, it is packed full of historical facts and interesting people.

What is most authentic about the book in my opinion is the depiction of Catholic life in Waterbury and New Haven at the turn of the last century. While times have certainly changed in 100 years, they haven't changed all that much. I spent quite a bit of time in Waterbury growing up, and I could almost feel the environment Fr. McGiveny grew up in. As I read, I became nostalgic.

I am a Knight, and the story of how the Knights began is personal and inspiring for me. I hope many read the book and consider joining the Knights. If non-Catholics read the book, I hope they consider joining other civic organizations. As Dr. Robert Putnam of Harvard University has pointed out in his excellent book "Bowling Alone," (which mentions the Knights and has a chart on Knights membership rates) social capital in this country has been in steep decline for the past 50 years. We must reinvigorate our great civic organizations to reclaim this source of social capital. Many folks who graduate college today and get jobs experience profound loneliness once they move away from the academic setting. This loneliness that characterizes modern life was not the norm 50 years ago or more. We are suffering and leading poorer lives because of a lack of social capital.

Fr. Michael McGivney was "just" a parish priest. However, he saw the need men had to connect with each other and spend time with each other. He saw that young Catholic men were being lured away by secret societies that at times sought to remove them from the Church. He saw that Catholic men seeking to make their way in a new and often hostile country needed a way to build social capital AND keep the faith, for if they lost the faith, the consequences were eternal. He provided all of this, even while he transformed the lives of millions of Catholic families, giving them access to Life Insurance and other benefits for the first time. Today, he is known as the man who founded what became one of the wealthiest civic organizations the world has ever seen. The Knights give millions away every year to charity and have billions in assets. They are, by all accounts, the largest private and religious charitable organization in the entire world.

Ultimately though, all this is not the best reason to buy the book and read it. At its core, this is just a biography of one good man who became one good and holy priest. At times like ours we are in need of reminders of what good and holy priests look like, act like, and achieve. Thank God the authors gave us such a portrait at such an important time.
I found the book gave an excellent account of life in the late 19th century. It left me with a feeling of what it would be like to lack insurance and reasonable health care, something that is widespred today. The lack of good health care coupled with the struggle of Father McGinvey to serve his community, made it clear his challenges were great. It was very interesting to see how he established the Knights of Columbus and worked at preserving family life.
A Must Read for Catholics  Feb 23, 2007
Brinkley and Fenster have written a must read for every Catholic. This biography depicts the struggles of Catholic Americans and immigrants in the 19th century. Fr. McGivney was a man of faith with a mission. He saw the discrimination and bigotry and created a faith-based organization to overcome them and their families. McGivney's short life (38 years) was filled with challenges. Through his vision the Knights of Columbus was formed. It is a legacy that will surely carry him to sainthood. As we face the current attacks on the Catholic Church, we must look to Fr. McGivney for guidance. His faith was strengthened by his trials and tribulations, so must our own faith be fortified by the frequent barrage of negativity we encounter today.
A fine biography of an ambiguous hero  Jan 10, 2007
This is a very well written book about the life and times of a Catholic Parish priest in the late 1800's. The stories of all the persons in and around his life give one a keen appreciation of all the hard work that this man put into his parish, his community, and the world. Its amazing how a single young and determined cleric could change the face of society and the Catholic Church in America. I highly recommend this book for those interested in the life of an ambiguous american hero.
A Must Read for all Knights  Jan 7, 2007
Parish Priest gave me an appreciation for the difficulty and uncertainty of people's lives in the 1800's and it strengthened my understanding and faith in Jesus Christ and the Church.

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