Blog Post

Fr. Benedict Groeschel Dies at 81

rev-benedict-groeschelThe Community of Franciscan Fiars of the Renewal (CFR) have announced that their co-founder, 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.

According to statements released by the CFR, Fr. Benedict died at around 11:00 p.m. on October 3 of complications from an ongoing illness.

A priest and psychologist, Fr. Groeschel was a 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. He also served as director of Trinity Retreat House in Larchmont, New York, and taught Pastoral Psychology for many years at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Dunwoodie. He was also a popular writer, preacher, retreat master, and evangelist on Catholic television.

But his greatest joy was serving the poor and underprivileged. Founder of St. Francis House and Good Counsel Homes, he served as chaplain at Children’s Village in Dobbs Ferry for 14 years. 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.

Father Benedict is survived by his sister, Marjule Drury, several nieces and nephews, 115 CFR brothers and priests, and 31sisters who were inspired by his authentic witness to religious life and devotion to Jesus and His Church.

Wrote Fr. John Paul Ouellette, Community Servant, Franciscan Friars of the Renewal: “We are deeply saddened by the death of Fr. Benedict. He was an example to us all. His fidelity and service to the Church and commitment to our Franciscan way of life will have a tremendous impact for generations to come.”

Details for the wake and funeral will be forth coming.

"The Catholic Church and the Franciscan family lost a giant today," the CFR said in a statement. "This moment is one that finds the Community of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal (CFR) with mixed emotions, as we are deeply saddened by the loss of Fr. Benedict but also relieved that God has set him free from the physical and mental suffering he has experienced over the past decade."

Even though the world knew Father Benedict as a priest, teacher, evangelist, retreat master, and a steadfast defender of and advocate for the Catholic Church, his community knew him as that and much more.

Fr Groeschel" . . . (W)e were also blessed to know him as a father who cared for each of us, a father who was always accessible when we needed him and always glad to see us when we came to visit. The words of a fellow Franciscan, Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, describing St. Francis, characterize Fr. Benedict well, 'His intuition of a universal brotherhood, extending to every creature, accompanied by his choice of minority, turn him and his followers into the brothers of every person, the enemies of none, and the companions of the least ones'.”

In a world often overwhelmed with darkness, "he was a man filled with hope, a hope that he shared with both the rich and poor alike," the friars said.

"His love for others and deep desire to serve, sent him among poor families who were in need of assistance, young people trying to find their way, bishops faced with challenging decisions, priests and religious in need of an encouraging word, and the stranger who was far from God."

Fr. Benedict was selfless and "to have known him was to have been helped by him and even loved by him," his community says.

"Our CFR Family and everyone who knew him received an enormous amount from Fr. Benedict—probably more than we were ever able to give back. 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."

The friars are asking that we join with them in praying for the repose of the soul of Fr. Benedict, for his family and Community, and also in thanksgiving for the legacy of renewal within the Church and Franciscan family that Fr. Benedict championed.

Funeral arrangements will be announced soon.

Click here for additional information on the life and service of Fr. Benedict Groeschel.