As I blogged previously, Fr. Benedict Groeschel, one of the seven “initiators” (they don’t like to be called founders) of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, is celebrating his 50th anniversary as a priest this year. There are plans for a big celebration:
LOCAL CATHOLICS TO HONOR FATHER BENEDICT GROESCHEL WITH 50th ANNIVERSARY MASS
Celebration Will Highlight Infuential Clergyman’s Life and Priesthood
NUTLEY, New Jersey — Laypeople, church officials, friars and Catholic leaders will celebrate the anniversary of one of the church’s most visible and respected priests on Oct. 18 with a special mass and public celebration marking 50 years of Father Benedict Groeschel’s priesthood.
Father Benedict is perhaps best known both within and outside the Catholic community as a prolific author, the host of the popular Sunday Night Live with Father Benedict Groeschel program, and an outspoken activist who has championed civil rights and the teachings of the Catholic church. He’s also an internationally known speaker, a psychologist, a founding member of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, and co-founder and chairman of Good Counsel Homes. Good Counsel, a Hoboken-based non-profit that provides homes and long-term support for new and expectant mothers and their babies, is honored to plan Father Benedict’s 50th Anniversary mass.
While Father Benedict is known internationally through his writings and weekly program on EWTN — the world’s largest religious media network — his priesthood has been distinguished by a dedication to the poor and disadvantaged, work he has carried out through his involvement with Catholic-based charities. In addition to his role as co-founder and chairman of Good Counsel Homes, Father Benedict is involved with several other Catholic charities focused on providing education, shelter and youth programs.
“Tens of thousands of people have benefited from his writing and through his media communication,” said Archbishop John J. Meyers of Newark. “But I feel confident he is most grateful to the Lord not only for the gift of priesthood, but also for the fact that both he himself and his brothers in the community have reached out to God’s lowly ones. What a joy to work with him to serve our brothers and sisters who often find themselves in such difficult circumstances.”
Christopher Bell, who co-founded Good Counsel with Father Benedict, remembers a conversation in 1985 that inspired the two men to found the charity, which has since provided homes, nourishment, life skills training, and transitional support for more than 5,200 women and babies.
“When I shared with him my frustration over the scarcity of the housing and support services for homeless expectant mothers, Father Benedict challenged me to do something about it,” Bell recalled. “I couldn’t do this alone. He volunteered to help before I even voiced my concern.”
Bell described Father Benedict as one of the nation’s most beloved priests, “truly an American Mother Teresa, with total concern for serving Jesus Christ.”
“Father Benedict has helped hundreds of thousands of people, from the most humble to people constantly in the public spotlight,” Bell said. “He always does it with great dignity and personal humility.”
The 50th Anniversary mass will be celebrated on Sunday, October 18 at Holy Family Church in Nutley, New Jersey. Among the guests are concelebrants Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Apostic Nuncio to the United Nations and Archbishop John J. Myers of Newark, as well as diocesan leaders, members of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, and lay leaders of Catholic charities and projects Father Benedict has contributed to.
The Mass is open to the public, and media organizations are invited to attend. In addition, friends of Father Benedict who are unable to attend the mass can send their greetings and congratulations on his 50th anniversary through a special Tribute Journal.
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For more information on the celebration, or to schedule an interview with one of Good Counsel’s founders, call Nik Bonopartis at 914-815-5369 or James Schaffer at 203-912-2802.