Sunday, October 5, 2014

Fr Benedict Groeschel, CFR

Fr Benedict Groeschel CFR (1933-2014)
A living saint, a friend, a mentor - all of these are personal attributes I give to Father Benedict Groeschel, who entered heaven just one hour before the feast of his order’s patron, Saint Francis of Assisi. I first heard Fr Benedict on a tape we listened to during dinner while doing a retreat in Spencer Abbey, probably around 1986. Then, I searched for a place where he was giving retreats so that I could attend one of them. Two years later, I was in Malvern, Pennsylvania attending one of his retreats. Somehow I was hooked to him, and in 1998 he became my Spiritual Director for the next 6 years. He also got a liking to me to, asking me to help him transcribe one of his many books, which he gave me in his handwriting on a yellow pad, while also giving me the same script spoken by him on tape. He would come behind me while typing his script, and would saying to me, “Father Julian, how can you decipher that jibberish!”
6 of the 8 capuchins who founded the Friars of the Renewal
In 2001 he visited Malta for the Youth 2000 retreat and even met my family (see photo.) It was in 2002 that I asked him to suggest for me a new Diocese with mission territory. That’s when he suggested I contact Bishop Robert Vasa, then bishop of Baker Diocese, and within a few months, in March 2003, I was a priest of the Diocese, serving in three parishes so far. I owe it to him that I am now serving as pastor in the parish of Bend dedicated to St Francis of Assisi, previously run by the Capuchin Franciscans, whom he knew well. He somehow knew that I would one day become pastor here, because he told me “We have a parish in that Diocese, in Bend, and they could use your talents there.” The rest is history.
With my parents, my brother Marcel and nephews Julian and Peter in Malta in 2001
Fr. Benedict J. Groeschel, beloved priest and preacher, died on October 3, 2014, the vigil of the Feast of St. Francis, after complications with an ongoing illness. He was 81. Fr. Benedict was born in 1933 in Jersey City, NJ and was very proud of his birthplace. He was a co-founder of the Community of Franciscan Friars of the Renewal (CFR), a reform community started in 1987 by eight Capuchin Friars based in New York City. A priest and psychologist, he was director of Trinity Retreat House in Larchmont, New York, and also taught Pastoral Psychology for many years at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Dunwoodie. Fr. Benedict was a popular writer, preacher, retreat master, and evangelist on Catholic television. His greatest joy was serving the poor and underprivileged. Founder of St. Francis House and Good Counsel Homes, he also served as chaplain at Children’s Village in Dobbs Ferry for 14 years.
Fr Benedict preaching during one of his many retreats
Always deeply concerned with the welfare of others, he tirelessly provided food, clothing, and assistance to people in need—people he always considered his friends. He poured himself out for others no matter what the cost — and sometimes the cost to him was very great. It was not simply his wealth of wisdom and knowledge from which many benefited. It was his profound faith and equally profound love, two gifts that he never failed to share generously.
Father Groeschel hosted and appeared on EWTN television shows for more than 25 years. He was ordained a priest in 1959 for the Detroit Capuchin province, and held a master’s degree in counseling and a doctoral degree in psychology. May he rest in peace.

With Blessed Mother Teresa

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