The Franciscan Friars of the Renewal have announced that Father Benedict Groeschel, C.F.R., has died at the age of 81.
I first saw Father Benedict Groeschel on television. I was a 24 year old (Protestant) seminarian in Philadelphia. I was flipping through the channels at night and saw Father Benedict talking about Martin Luther and John Calvin. He said something like, “Luther I couldn’t work with, but Calvin, I think I could have turned him into a Catholic.”
I was immediately fascinated with this man wearing a long beard and “dressed in sackcloth.” I started watching him at night and he certainly planted seeds in my heart for a future conversion to Catholicism.
Years later when I was an Episcopalian priest, I was able to meet him in person in Washington DC. He was very interested in the fact that I was an Episcopalian priest and he was certain that I should become a Catholic. “Oh, you went to Nashotah House in Wisconsin,” he said with enthusiasm, “then you’re almost Catholic already!”
Father Benedict Groeschel Read My Soul
I’ve never said this publicly, but he leaned in to me and whispered. He read my soul right then and there. He told me things that I had thought but that I had never told to people. It was alarming but also comforting.
It was a miracle and I have ever since believed that Father Benedict was a holy man with miraculous charisms like Padre Pio. He gave me counsel and encouraged me. It was quite a remarkable experience. These are things that cannot be explained by science or natural observation. There was something deeply supernatural about Father Benedict Groeschel.
Father Benedict Groeschel into the Arms of God the Father
We had been following Father Benedict’s health for awhile, and my CFR friends had told me that he had not been doing well for the least several weeks. This morning Joy told me that Father Benedict had died. We stopped during breakfast and prayed that he would skip purgatory and go straight into the arms of the Father.
I’m pretty certain that he did. He was very close to the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus and he deeply understood the profound mercy of God. He would say that when he died and showed up at the pearly gates, all he would do is cast his eyes down and humbly beg for mercy. I know that he received it!
May Father Benedict rest in peace and do more for us in Heaven than he did for us on earth.
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