The Louisville Young Catholics is considered by one of its members, treasurer Guthrie Savage Friedman, to be a best-kept secret of the city.
Intended for those aged 21-40, the group meets several times a month to “provide Catholic intellectual and spiritual nourishment to young adults in community with one another,” according to its website, louisvilleyoungcatholics.org.
On Aug. 10, the young Catholics held a meeting of their monthly pub series, Distilled Doctrine. In the upstairs room of Four Pegs gastropub, the group gathered for drinks, dinner and discussion with Daniel Schachle of the Knights of Columbus, who spoke about the miracle that led to the beatification of the Knights’ founder.
Schachle, a life insurance agent for the Knights of Columbus, lives with his wife and their 13 children in Dixon, Tenn. He leads a team of agents who serve Catholics in Kentucky, Tennessee and Arkansas.
The youngest of Schachle’s children, Michael McGivney Schachle, is seven years old. Michael, who has Down syndrome, is named after the founder of the Knights of Columbus, Blessed Michael McGivney. And he wasn’t expected to live to birth.
During an ultrasound in February 2015, it was discovered that he had fetal hydrops, a life-threatening condition in which fluids build up in the tissue around the lungs, heart or abdomen or under the skin.
The doctor told Schachle and his wife that the baby had a 0% chance of survival and suggested termination.
Schachle recalled his own anger and his wife’s pain and despair one night after receiving the diagnosis. He went into their garden to pray.
“I said, ‘Lord, I can’t do this. Please let this cup pass from my hands,’ ” Schachle told the group. He said he began praying and asking for an intercession from Father McGivney, whom he had an affinity for since joining the Knights of Columbus and reading the book “Parish Priest,” based on the man’s life.
The family set to praying, asking family members and friends to ask the late Father McGivney to pray on their behalf. Father McGivney, born in Connecticut in 1852, founded the Knights of Columbus in 1882 with a mission of charity. He died in 1890 at just 38 years old.
During a March 2015 trip to Rome and Fatima, Portugal, sponsored by the Knights, the family received several instances of “extra grace,” he told the group.
They attended Mass at the Vatican in a randomly chosen chapel, which happened to be one sponsored and restored by the Knights of Columbus years prior.
During a daily Mass at a basilica in Fatima, the reading was from John 4. The reading said: “ ‘Lord, come help me, my son’s going to die,’ ” Schachle said he remembers hearing. “Pretty overwhelming.”
The visit also coincided with the pope’s announcement of the upcoming year of mercy.
“With all these things adding up, there was irrational hope building in us,” Schachle said.
When they returned to the United States and had another ultrasound, Schachle said the doctor began discussing different specialists the family would need to meet. High-risk pregnancy doctors, genetic disorder specialists and the like.
His wife asked why, since the baby wasn’t going to live.
The doctor — not the one who gave the original diagnosis — told them, “Well I know one thing, you’re going to have a baby.”
There wasn’t a trace of fetal hydrops on any of the ultrasound images.
On May 15, 2015, the anniversary of the chartering of the first Knights of Columbus council, their son, Michael McGivney Schachle, was born.
Schachle doesn’t know, “Why this child,” he said. “We have 13 (children) but we lost three. Why did God choose this one? We were praying for those too. I don’t know.”
Perhaps, Schachle said, “It was time for Blessed McGivney and God was lining things up.”
For Father McGivney to become Blessed McGivney, possible miracles were submitted to the Vatican for consideration. Schachle said it took five years of various panels and tribunals to determine that the miracles submitted on McGivney’s behalf couldn’t be explained by science.
In May 2020, Pope Francis approved the promulgation of a decree recognizing Michael Schachle’s cure from a fatal case of fetal hydrops in utero as a miracle attributed to the intercession of Father McGivney. In October of the same year, Father McGivney was beatified and received the title blessed.
“My son has been a powerful witness of God’s grace,” Schachle said.
After living through that experience, Schachle said his default assumption is that God is always working on something.
“Lacking the knowledge of God, we have no right to question why bad things happen to us,” Schachle said.
Among the 17 young adults who attended Schachle’s talk Aug. 10, six are Knights of Columbus, hailing from different parishes, including St. Margaret Mary and St. Louis Bertrand churches.
Schachle told them, “Masculinity is not so en vogue in our culture sometimes. The Knights of Columbus strengthens and endeavors men to do it the right way.”
The next meeting of the Louisville Young Catholics will be a Young Adult Mass on Sept. 18 at 5:30 p.m. celebrated by Archbishop Shelton Fabre at the Cathedral of the Assumption, 433 S. 5th St.
All young adult Catholics, ages 21 to 40, are invited to attend.