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A Reporter’s Notebook New York, – Sunday, April 20

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Father McGivney’s ‘Remarkable Achievement’

All Knights of Columbus, and all priests with whom the Order stands in solidarity with, have reason to be proud that Pope Benedict XVI singled out the Venerable Father Michael J. McGivney’s “remarkable achievement” in founding our fraternal Order. He was the only priest mentioned by the Holy Father in his homily at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Saturday morning, April 19.

This fact, added to the fact that Benedict last month declared Father McGivney a “Venerable Servant of God” gives Knights greater hope that one day our founder will be added to the list of saints as the first US-born parish priest to be canonized.

Reflecting on the pope’s words, Father Jason Freiburger of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Fort Wayne, Ind., said, “For the Holy Father to hold up Father McGivney, his charity and achievement, shows us what all priests are called to, especially parish priests. We are to see the needs of the people of our day, like he did, and respond to those needs, and even go beyond what is expected because that is what Jesus did. Father McGivney would be a great example and it would be such a great blessing if he were beatified.”

Father Freiburger made his comments while attending the youth rally at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Dunwoodie (Yonkers), where he was with a group of priests, seminarians and youth from the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese.

American Idol’

More than 20,000 young people and their guardians spread out across the lower field of the 40-acre seminary campus that was opened in 1896. The last event of this kind on the grounds took place in 1994, when Cardinal John O’Connor, responding to the requests of young people who attended World Youth Day in Denver in 1993, staged Young New York at the seminary.

The entertainment at the rally included classical, religious and pop music. Kelly Clarkson, the Grammy winner and ‘American Idol’ took the stage for three numbers that got the crowd jumping, clapping and singing along. Yet she was just a warm-up act.

The real ‘American Idol’ on this day was Pope Benedict XVI, the simple, scholarly man with a warm, embracing smile. When rumor spread that his popemobile was coming this way, then that way, young people raced from one barricade to another to catch a glimpse and snap a photo.

When he did pass, his face was radiant, his eyes (though deep-set) were sparkling, his smile was charming yet understated, as though holding a great truth that he was about to reveal. He was the image of his first two encyclicals – “God Is Love” and “Saved By Hope.”

Pope Is ‘Cool’

Rob Villegas and Chris Smith were among those cheering. They are peer ministers at Union Catholic High School in Scotch-Plains, N.J.

“This is surreal. Wow!” said Smith, 19. “He’s so close. I see him as a strong man, because of all he’s been through in life.”

Villegas, 18, said simply, “He’s cool!”

Tim Humphrey, 13, of St. Gregory Barbarigo Parish in Garnerville, N.Y., had a smile that wouldn’t quit. “He’s awesome. I want to meet him so badly. He’s the head of our faith.”

Jessica Fields, 14, of St. Martin’s Parish in Enfield, Conn., said, “I didn’t know there were so many young kids in the Catholic Church. It’s nice to see all the kids come together as one.”

‘Take Courage!’

On the stage, the Holy Father electrified the crowd as he walked along, shaking hands with those in the first row.

He thanked the young people for singing “Happy Birthday” to him in German. “I give you an ‘A-plus’ for your German pronunciation!”

He also connected with the crowd when he was about the give his blessing and his aide pointed out politely that he had missed the final section of his prepared talk. Raising a professor’s finger as though to humbly correct himself, he said with a smile, “I forgot my Spanish.” Thousands of Hispanics cheered and waved papal flags as he delivered remarks in their language.

He spoke about his own teen years in Nazi Germany, which, he said, “were marred by a sinister regime that thought it had all the answers; its influence grew – infiltrating schools and civic bodies, as well as politics and even religion – before it was fully recognized for the monster it was.”

Warning the young people against false idols of money, sexual immorality, drugs and luxury, he exhorted, “Take courage! Fix your gaze on our saints.”

“In seeking the truth we come to live by belief because ultimately truth is a person: Jesus Christ.”





About Pope Benedict XVI

Deus Caritas Est 
Spe Salvi 

Pope Benedict XVI in Print
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