Fr Benedict Groeschel Once Read My Soul – May He Rest in Peace

The Franciscan Friars of the Renewal have announced that Father Benedict Groeschel, C.F.R., has died at the age of 81.

Father Benedict Groeschel and Taylor Marshall

Fr Benedict Groeschel and a younger “Rev” Taylor Marshall as an Episcopalian priest

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.

Taylor Marshall

Question: Do you have any memories of Father Benedict that you’d like to share? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  • Maggie Sullivan

    Thank you Dr. Marshall for your words and may Lord bless Father Groeschel.

  • ‘only me’

    Dear Dr. Marshall,
    I knew Father Benedict too. All the way from Jersey City!
    Please mention next time that Father Benedict received his PhD. in Psychology from Columbia University. He always said, “They treated me very well there!”
    God bless you. Love in JMJ/MTA +++ ‘only me’

  • Vicki

    I had the great honor to meet him at a seminar at St. Marks in Vienna, Virginia some years ago. He very graciously autographed one of his books for me there. May his dear soul rest in peace.

  • Lisa Ann Homic

    Wonderful memory. He lives on in you, as do all the saints.

  • woodyjones

    Dr. Marshall, I hear also that Fr. Bill Stetson is not doing so well. Please pray for him, too.

  • TheresaEH

    I only knew this good priest thru EWTN and his books. I considered him my virtual spiritual director.

    • M Patricia Willard

      Wonderful way to describe him! Me too.

  • M Patricia Willard

    Wonderful story! I met Fr Groeschel at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception many years ago. It was a moving experience that I am glad I had. I, too, pray he bypassed Purgatory. And would be inclined to think he did.

  • Barbara Ann

    I was blessed to meet him at my parent’s parish, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, outside of
    Philadelphia where he came to give a talk during Advent. I asked him to pray for my father who
    was suffering in the hospital and died a few months after. My children have been so blessed to have
    been exposed to the wonderful joy of the CFR fathers. They have worked along side them in NYC, and experience their charism as they spoke at our catholic youth group. What a blessing the CFR’s
    are to the whole church.

  • C.T.

    Fr. Groeschel had a gift of insight when expressed would shake up others instantly. He was a pure heart, a rarity in the world faithful to Mary, Immaculate. As with times of old, the Modern Church hides such souls from the public when they are old weak or in-firmed. As they had when he began to speak of paedophile priests and how he had come to have a divinely given compassion and love for them. In suffering he had connected with His Passion on the Cross expressing the love of God to all those in sin and error.Christ died for those who would commit heinous crimes as well as Saints. As weak human beings we are repelled by sins which ought to offend mankind. Yet, because we are not yet made perfect in Love we judge the sinner by the sin. God, the Lord sees the heart and judges the intent of it. Fr. Groeschel from my view not only expressed Love he was submersed in His divine Love for every soul. Jesus suffered and died on the Cross even for those who would reject Him in this life on earth at one point or another. As the world sees those within Catholicism for a large part it views them as wanting for this Divine Love in lives exemplifying the Cross of the Savior of the World. We ought to measure ourselves to his example and with fervent haste ask for the intercession of the ever-Virgin Mother of God to overcome the one sin which is keeping us from turning into a Saint – Condemnation.

  • TaylorKH

    That’s pretty neat Taylor. Thanks for that.

  • Patti Day

    I love saying the rosary with Father and Simonetta using my old mp 3.,Father’s voice is so serene. I think it was recorded in the nineties. Rest in peace dear Father Groeschel.

  • Marty Barrack

    I never personally met Father Benedict, but Father Hardon was my mentor in the Faith. There is something about the personal experience of direct contact with a saintly soul that marks us forever.

    Laus tibi Dómine, Rex ætérnæ glóriæ

  • David

    Please correct me if I am wrong. I would occasionally watch Fr. G. on Sunday nights. He said something I will never forget. Hopefully I heard him correctly. He said that every day since the age of 12 he had read the Bible and some writings of St. Augustine. Has anyone else heard this?

  • Catherine

    I never met him in person, but I always loved listening to him on the radio or watching him on Youtube. I can’t count the times where I was listening to him on Catholic radio in the car and would keep listening in the car until the show ended for an extra half an hour or so after I’d arrived at my destination. What a beautiful, sensitive, thoughtful, and psychologically astute man and priest… May God receive his soul and provide a fitting dwelling place for him in Heaven.

  • Victor

    Doctor Marshall as I’m sure you know and believe, the Catholic Church teaches us that when a man participates in the priesthood, he participates in the priesthood of Christ Himself… from what you’ve said about this good man, those word say a lot to me… you both were blessed to have known each other… God Bless his soul

  • DaveFarrell

    Thank-you for sharing the experience you witnessed with Fr. Benedict. He was a always a “must see” on EWTN up until his accident. A great soul and Holy priest he was. May he rest in peace.

    • MaryJean H

      Hi Dave,
      Father Groeschel’s accident occured in January 2004. He miraculously recovered and his live show, “Sunday NIght Live,” began AFTER his recovery, in October of 2004 and continued until September of 2012.

  • Carl Eppig

    Ten years ago we were at a retreat across the country in Paso Robles, CA. Father Groeschel was one of the principal speakers. He left before the retreat was over to catch a plane to Orlando. After the retreat on the way to the airport in Oakland we heard the news on the radio that he had the accident after landing. We have been praying for him ever since.

  • ColleenR

    When I heard that he had died I immediately prayed for a desired miracle through his intercession. I’ll let you know if it goes through! 🙂

  • Genevieve

    My 22 year old son, Jordan, was watching Fr. Benedict on EWTN in Brisbane, Australia during his treatment for leukaemia. Father referred to those who had a terminal illness as lucky because they had time to prepare for death. It struck such a chord with Jordan and I believe it changed the way he looked at his illness. Tomorrow will be five years since he passed away.

  • BillEmmerich

    My mother would take the LIRR into Manhattan to listen to him speak. She was a year older than Father. She approached him afterwards once to tell him that she loved him.

  • Carole Tokaruk

    When Father Groeschel was on EWTN he told one person who phoned in to not bother to come into the Catholic Church because he was doing good works where he was. I’m afraid that after that I was totally turned off by him and would no longer listen to anything he had to say. But I do not wish him any harm and I do hope he makes it to Heaven.

  • Marjorie J. Benke

    I was so happy to read that you too believed that Fr. Groeschel went straight to Heaven, as I do. When I first heard his death announced on EWTN, I couldn’t be sad and felt like we should all rejoice that he was finally in Heaven!

  • william mcintosh

    Condolences to you Taylor-thanks for passing on the sad news. I had met several times with Fr. Groeschel starting at Holy Cross when a group of us went to a weekend discernment. Thereafter I met with him a few more times. I was grateful for his kind generosity to me in hearing about my personal problems. he told me once to lie my head in God´s lap. May he Rest In Peace.

  • TomD

    I met Fr. Groeschel once, and even spoke to him. He had those piercing eyes. He was friendly enough. He didn’t tell me anything that reached into me, but gave me a positive recommendation of a Catholic writer I was interested in. He also made two comments in his speech which stuck with me.

    The first comment was to this effect: “Look at Arius. Arianism is such a sleazy heresy. If you want to see a classy heresy, look at Calvinism. And John Calvin knew how to pray!”

    The second comment had to do with a debate he had with an unnamed female theologian. She said something that he found suspect, and answered “I’d have to check that out with Chalcedon” to which she replied “Just who is this Cal Cedon guy you keep talking about?”

  • Kenneth M. Fisher

    When Fr. Groeschel was scheduled to speak at the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress. Father Groeschel was scheduled to speak there and CRCOA, Inc. made contact with him and enlightened him as to the nature of that Congress, he subsequently cancelled and has not been back since.

    God bless, yours in Their Hearts,
    May God have mercy on an amoral Amerika!
    Viva Cristo Rey!

    Kenneth M. Fisher, Founding Director

    Concerned Roman Catholics of America, Inc.

  • Elana

    I saw Fr. Grosechel at a talk in Virginia and knew I was in the presence of a saint. My sister had a encounter with Fr. G. she went with a group in NYC to Mass where he celebrated Mass and the invited everyone afterwards for breakfast. My sister is a kind of “Martha”; her job us cooking for her parish priests. Any way she was standing near Fr. G. and he asked her to get him a bagel and cream cheese. Nothing spectacular, but serving Christ… he picked her out to serve him. I thought that was pretty cool. May he rest in Eternal Peace.

  • Mary

    We attended his conferences at Maryknoll. He had to sit b/c his legs pained him. He got stronger by listening to his doctor. He was obedient. In 1980 , I studied at the Spiritual Direction Center under him for 2 years. He gave wisdom with humor. My personal conference with him remains very precious to me. He spoke to me one day after he has purchased land for the friars cemetery. He was a very practical saint and his store of knowledge was incredible. I have learned to blend the spiritual with the psychological as I try to listen to family or peers in painful distress. Fr Benedict taught me how to listen to folks in pain. I recall when he founded the friars of renewal and how painful it was for him to leave his community and do this. Looking at the fruits of his action is a lesson to all on how to move on when things are clearly harmful.

  • Dhaniele

    Time has passed now, but Fr. Benedict did what he could for the cause of orthodoxy in the diocese of Newark, New Jersey in the troubled 70’s. I owe him a lot.

  • Lora

    We will miss him! He was a devoted priest and a great man of God!

  • Chia Toh Paul

    I was opportune to watch Fr Benedict on EWTN when He was talking on the topic ”Call to religious life”. Since then I have always followed his programs on the same channel. His presentations have been so enriching. May God Grant Him Rest. Amen.

  • Martha O’Brien

    Thank you Taylor for relating your experience with Fr. Groeschel. I first discovered Fr. Benedict on EWTN and watched him every Sunday night. On two separate occasions I remember that he described the main-stream media as “the septic tank of toxic waste”. I also attended a talk he gave at St. Peter Catholic Church in DeLand Florida. I too, think that he is already with our Lord.

  • Blestbarbianne

    I didn’t know Fr. Groeschel, but met this holy man once. Our Apologetics group had him come speak for a conference and we had a lavish dinner prepared in his honor — a few of us were fortunate enough to spend a little time with him during this meal.
    Instead of eating the dinner, he chose only to enjoy the simple but delicious soup, and then spent a good bit of the rest of the dinner holding my newborn daughter Angelina in his arms, while he gently danced w/ her in his arms singing an old Italian song “Angelina Josephina”… I do believe my daughter was in the arms of a saint!

  • Barry

    In 1993 I was at a low in my life. I was raised Baptist but far, far away from God — in my New Age/Agnostic stage of life with several addictions. One dark day I happened upon EWTN and Fr. Groeschel was speaking. He said something very much like, “The problem with people’s ideas about God today isn’t that they don’t believe He exists, but that He is senile. It is as if they believe His rule are arbitrary and the only true virtue is obedience. In fact, His rules are not arbitrary — they are meant to lead us to a good life and keep us from harm.” That sunk into my soul was the beginning of a new life for me — it trickled in slowly but over the last 20 years God has brought me home to the Catholic Church, and very much healing has occurred. I always look back at that one incident as a sort of subtle but definitive turning point. May the Lord bless him abundantly!

  • J.J.

    A bit off topic, but what is the difference between reading souls and reading minds?

  • Kelly Atkins

    I met Father at EWTN in 1991……Bob and Penny Lord, Father…..myself…went back to Terry Ruhmore’s house. Bob and Penny were running the show. Father talked with me over the cheese tray. He said….”You have started the climb…but you are way too slow (a direct quote from my Alpine dwelling grandmother)…….then he said something to seal the deal. He called me “SchmutzigesGesicht” (Dirty Face) a name only my grandmother called me. He had an impish smile…and walked away from me…back to the party. That was a major turning point in my life.

  • Darren

    It was on YouTube watching one of his EWTN videos on prayer, and the life story of St. Joseph Benedict Laboure. Also, his Eucharistic prayer book on Adoration was inspiring.

  • Dan S

    I used to watch Fr. Groeschel as a student, too. I was a religious studies major but still had much I needed to work through. I believe I received grace simply from hearing him speak, as could have been the case with others on EWTN as well. I agree that he was a holy, gentle man. May his soul rest in peace and may he intercede on our behalf!

  • paul

    I’ve never met Fr. Groeschel in person, but I love him very much, I’m very saddened by his death.
    He did something for me that I’ll never forget, he made me feel calm while listening to him when I was very sick with a very serious health problem.
    I bought one of his books, I wanted to meet him in person but I didn’t get the chance.
    He spoke on his show “sunday night live”, as it was called at that time. I felt very bad a few years ago when I heard he made a statement that caused some bad publicity, that’s just not him,that was old age getting to him because he was a beautiful person while his mind was intact, when old age really set in, that’s when he needed our prayers. He did so much good for so many people that I’m sure he Is with our Lord in heaven. May God bless him&keep him & let perpetual light shine upon him. Amen

  • Monique

    Yes, I also believe Father Groeschel went straight to be with God. I also feel Father Groeschel was a Angel on earth who touched so many souls.

  • don tomas

    I took a psyh course from him. He was hilarious. He loved Columbia, but he said, “Rats, gentlemen, they only study rats”.

  • Dan Grimm

    I met Fr. Groeschel at Franciscan University’s Gaming, Austria, campus, when i was raising money for the International Theological Institute. He said, “I am a fundraiser, too.” Pointing to his frayed gray habit, he smiled and said” “Every tatter is worth money!”

  • Kelso

    Thank you for this kind tribute. I went to confession once to Father Benedict. It was just by chance. I was visiting a friend in Steubenville and I mentioned wanting to go to confession. He said that there was a friary right down the street. I went there and Father Groeschel answered the door. Nothing more to it. I felt much peace at the time. I am glad to hear he believed in converting people to the Catholic faith.

  • Christina Martin

    I remember hearing him speak at an SCRC event. One thing I particularly remember him saying is that the worst day in purgatory is better than the best day in heaven, because there is no temptation, and there is no sin. I have comfort thinking of that when I consider the possibility of him being in purgatory… but greater comfort with the very real hope that he is already in heaven.

  • Sunday Ruvolo

    Thank you for that wonderful story of how father was a big influence in your spiritual journey. He was the same for me. I first heard him speak in 1998 and then began attending his monthly reflections in Kearny, NJ. Attending these until his accident gave me amazing knowledge and insight into my spirituality. Fr. Benedict Groeschel will live on in the hearts of all who knew him. His books are a treasure for generations to come. RIP, Father Benedict.