EWTN Remembers Fr. Benedict Groeschel
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He was one of the eight founders of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, a bearded, gray robed priest who lived and worked with the homeless and destitute in New York's South Bronx. He was also a prolific author, spiritual director, counselor, TV and radio host, and a psychologist who was known and loved as much for his charmingly irascible New York personality as for his holiness.

He was Father Benedict Groeschel and, as the world now knows, on Friday, Oct. 3, the God He served his entire life called him home. The world lost a great priest, and EWTN lost a great friend – at least here on earth. (EWTN will air a Prayer Vigil at 6:45 p.m. ET, Thursday, Oct. 9, and the Mass of Christian Burial at 10:45 a.m. ET, Friday, Oct. 10.)

"Father Benedict played an enormous role in the work of EWTN … for nearly three decades," said EWTN Chairman & Chief Executive Officer Michael P. Warsaw. "[H]e had a profound impact on the lives of countless individuals who knew him only through his television and radio presence. In many of the most difficult days in the history of EWTN, Father Benedict was a strong and vocal supporter of Mother Angelica. The Network is what it is today, in part, because of the encouragement and commitment of Father Benedict."

As EWTN President & COO Doug Keck, and a fellow New Yorker, noted tongue in cheek at a 2007 EWTN Family Celebration, "The first time I met Fr. Benedict was at a conference, years before I came to work at EWTN. He was barking orders, and he's kept right on barking. Not sure where the passage is in Scripture, 'Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way,' but it's on Page 1 of his New York Bible!"

EWTN's viewers will remember that the world almost lost Fr. Groeschel in January 2004, after a horrific auto accident that left him in a coma for three weeks. Keck remembered the incident during that same Family Celebration talk: "After his heart stopped beating and he had no vital signs for 28 minutes, his young confrere and his live show's associate producer, Fr. John Lynch, prayed all night on his knees for his recovery – as did thousands of you … and millions more watching now at home around the world. With his very life, Fr. Benedict proved the truths that he had been preaching to us for years."

Those truths that he preached included the fact that prayer works – and that a personal relationship with Jesus Christ must be the bedrock of our spiritual lives. That was the subject of many of his many appearances on "Mother Angelica Live," and his more than 20 EWTN series, mini-series, and specials including "Basic Steps in the Christian Journey," "Christians Living in a Pagan World," "Get a Life in Christ," "Stumbling Blocks and Stepping Stones," "They Will Be Done," "What To Do When Life Does Not Make Sense," "You and the God of Mercy," "Mountains and Valleys in the Spiritual Life," "Gates of Hell," and many others – especially his last series, "Sunday Night Prime."

These truths were also the subject of his many books, including "Praying to Our Lord Jesus Christ: Prayers and Meditations Through the Centuries," "The Rosary: Chain of Hope," and "Arise From Darkness, A Still Small Voice," which was written after his accident, and many others. "We must remember, our devotion grows as we increase in our realization that our God is a personal God," Groeschel said.

Father Groeschel is survived not just by his immediate family, but by his extended family in Christ and his numerous good works. He served for many years as a professor of pastoral psychology at St. Joseph's Seminary in the Archdiocese of New York as well as the Archdiocese's Director for the Office for Spiritual Development. He even served as promoter of the cause of Canonization of Cardinal Terence Cooke. In addition to being a co-founder of his own order, Father Groeschel founded Trinity Retreat, where clergy can pray and recharge; and served as chairman of Good Counsel Homes for babies and mothers, and of St. Francis House for homeless young men aged 18 and up who have run out of alternatives.

As Michael Warsaw said: "While we will miss him, we are also confident that he has achieved his final goal of life everlasting with the Father. May this good and faithful servant rest in peace."