Miracle baby brings McGivney beatification
November 18, 2020 | posted by Carol Baass Sowa
Miracle baby brings McGivney beatification
Daniel Schachle was attending a conference in San Antonio in May 2015 when he received word his 13th child was being delivered prematurely by cesarean section. He flew home to Tennessee immediately. It would be a miracle birth in more ways than one, for little Michael “Mikey” McGivney Schachle was not expected to be born at all, and his birth would provide the miracle needed for beatification of Blessed Father Michael J. McGivney Oct. 31.
Diagnosed in in utero with Down syndrome and, shortly after, with fetal hydrops, the latter was filling him with fluid. “His little body looked like a balloon on the ultrasound,” recalls Daniel. “They told us he wouldn’t survive because his body wouldn’t continue to develop due to the fluid.”
Sometimes babies develop fetal hydrops due to infections or other causes, but Mikey’s was due to the genetic abnormality of Down syndrome, so was pronounced untreatable to Daniel and wife Michelle. Their doctor, a Catholic who knew their strong feelings on abortion, none-the-less recommended one, explaining this was a case of “zero hope.” The Schachles refused to accept this.
“So, you have a baby that the medical community has marked for death, that they said is unworthy of continuing, special needs,” Daniel explains. “Our culture is getting into this whole mindset where they think it is their job to determine what another person’s quality of life is and whether one can continue living.”
Instead, the Schachles turned to the Knights of Columbus and its founder, Venerable Father McGivney. Daniel had joined the Knights when he was 18 and been active in it off and on through his days in the U.S. Air Force. As Grand Knight of his council, he became more familiar with the story of Father McGivney, the beloved parish priest who founded the organization as a fraternal benefit society to care for widows and orphans in 1882.
Daniel went to work for the Knights’ insurance program, which turns premiums into charitable impact, in 2005. “That was the beginning of my real devotion to him,” he relates. “I always felt like he was with me, when I was going out on my job working with people, and our agency prayers always invoked Father McGivney, so he’s been part of our life for a long time.” The Schachles even dubbed their home school “Father McGivney Academy.”
“After we got the fetal hydrops diagnosis,” says Daniel, “I had this Agony in the Garden moment and I wanted God to take all this away. ‘Let this cup pass from me, if it’s your will.’” And he told Father McGivney they both needed a miracle. The next morning, the couple began e-mailing all their family and friends, explaining the situation and imploring them to ask Father McGivney to pray for their baby.
The award trip for agents reaching their goal in the Knight’s insurance program that year included a visit to Fatima, which the Schachles had already planned to make. “So, we had several hundred people praying back home, while we were in Fatima,” Daniel notes. Part of the reason the Schachles would not accept the doctor’s zero percent chance was Fatima. “There’s not a zero percent chance,” Daniel kept telling himself.
In Portugal, they attended a rosary at the apparition site and Mass at the basilica. The reading for the day was from John 4, in which the Roman official begs Jesus to save his dying son. It was a very heavy moment for the Schachles, with their unborn son not expected to live. Ultrasounds were scheduled both before and after the trip. The first was required by the European airlines and also would ensure the baby was strong enough to travel. The second was to confirm the baby was still alive.
A new doctor performed the ultra-sound scan on their return home, and Michelle became confused when told how the baby would be cared for after birth and what to expect in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. “What are you talking about?” asked Michelle. “I was told I had no hope that he would be born.” The doctor flipped through her charts. “Well,” she replied, “now you’re going to have a baby.”
Michael McGivney Schachle was born May 15, 2015, named, as promised, for Father McGivney who also came from a family with 13 children. The little boy not expected to be born is now five years old and was an active participant in the recent rite of beatification for Blessed Father McGivney at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Hartford, CT, Oct. 31. Accompanied by his parents and beaming joyfully, he presented Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin with the reliquary containing a relic of his holy namesake.
“He’s just so lovable,” Daniel says of Mikey. “We are blessed every day.” If anyone says “hi,” he immediately runs to hug them. He wants to be fireman someday, loves airplane rides and enjoys watching “PAW Patrol” on television, whose heroes’ motto is: “No job is too big, no pup is too small.”
“I don’t feel like we deserved any of this grace,” says Daniel. “We’ve just felt like our whole lives we should trust God and do what we feel he’s asking us to do.” This included accepting as many children as God would send, though he never dreamed he would one day have 13.
Had they not been open to God early on, he notes, there would never have been a Mikey -- or a beatification. He believes Mary played a part in this as well, helping secure Father McGivney’s beatification at a time when the priesthood is under attack.
“It’s a great symbol of strength from heaven to our parish priests right now when they need it,” Daniel adds. “I feel like God sent this special grace from heaven right now, because Father McGivney is who the world needs to see.”
Blessed Father Michael J. McGivney
Blessed Father Michael J. McGivney, parish priest and founder of the Knights of Columbus, was a central figure in the growth of Catholicism in America. Born in Waterbury, Conn., in 1852, his parents were part of the great 19th-century wave of Irish immigrants experiencing anti-Catholic bigotry while struggling to make a living. An example of charity, evangelization and empowerment of the laity, he died of pneumonia at age 38, after ministering to the sick in the global Russian flu pandemic, 1889-1890, which recent research indicates may have resulted from a coronavirus. Learn about Father McGivney at KofC.org.