Family and friends of the gray-habited friar Fr. Benedict J. Groeschel bid farewell to him Oct. 12 as he was laid to rest in the crypt of the Most Blessed Sacrament Friary after his funeral Mass at the Basilica Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Newark. The priest, who was an author, former EWTN host, and one of the founders of the Community of Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, passed away at 11:00 p.m. on Oct. 3, at the age of 81. Fr. Groeschel was one of eight Capuchin friars in New York City who helped found the Community of Franciscan Friars of the Renewal in 1987, which is is committed to poverty and evangelization. Known for his love of the poor, he founded the St. Francis House for the homeless, and Good Counsel Homes for pregnant women in crisis. He also directed Trinity Retreat House in Larchmont, New York, and taught at Dunwoodie Seminary. In an Oct. 14 column for CNA, Dr. Alice von Hildebrand, author and wife of the late philosopher Diedrich von Hildebrand, wrote a tribute to her friend saying that although this man who was a spiritual father to many is gone, he has not left us as “orphans.” “In this context, I am exclusively referring to the very many books that he has written, and which, now that he is gone, continue to transmit his message and faith, hope and charity,” she wrote of Fr. Groeschel’s book, “Arise from Darkness.” “Not only is this book a personal testimony of the way God leads some of his particularly beloved children, but it is a powerful medicine for all of us who, as soon as we encounter darkness in our spiritual life, lose hope of reaching the top of the mountain,” von Hildebrand wrote. She went on the detail the suffering and trials found in the lives of the saints such as Padre Pio, St. Catherine of Siena and St. Bernadette, to name a few. In his book, Fr. Groeshcel gives insights into what many might see as a “baffling topic”: the extreme suffering of those whom are loved by God. von Hildebrand wrote that the priest explains in his book that “… it is precisely when we feel abandoned by God or are the victim of crying injustices — that is, when the road is in total darkness — that He invites us to see human events in the light of eternity.” In this light, suffering takes on new meaning. It is not a punishment or as something that can ever be totally avoided, but another way that God can work in our lives.
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