Saturday, September 17, 2011

Priests Retreat with Father Benedict Groeschel

Monday to Thursday this week I participated in the Marquette diocesan priests' retreat at Marygrove Retreat Center. The food is excellent! And so were the conferences given by Father Groeschel, founder of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal.

Father is clearly ageing - he miraculously survived a serious car accident some years ago - but is full of practical wisdom. Death was mentioned in probably every one of his conferences which dealt with the topics of Faith, Hope, Trust and Charity in the life of a priest. He spoke about Purgatory (pronounced in his Jersey City accent as Poygatoyry - "if you want to know what Poygatoyry is like, go to Joysy City" he quipped) and said that he expects to spend a long time there and looks forward to meeting us there too! There's a thought - we are all likely to need Purgatory.

Father also spoke clearly on some of the madness that has occurred in the Church in recent years, particularly the catastrophe of the Blessed Sacrament having been removed in so many churches and chapels to side rooms or concealed spaces where It is hidden from view.

Another "small world" eperience occurred as Father Fidelis - Father Benedict's "carer" pictured above - and I remembered one another from when he was superior of the CFR community in London. He remembers also my brother, Father Stephen, and my sister Susan who was and is very much involved in the pro-life movement in London.


  1. I was fortunate to attend an all-day conference Father Groeschel gave a few years back at St. Charles Seminary in Philadelphia. I had no clue how debilitated he was until the young friar who had accompanied him had to lift him from the chair and help him from the stage. "Don't get old" he joked with us, his humor undoubtedly disguising the pain. His was the best talk by a priest I've heard to this day. If Father thinks he's going to Purgatory, I'm not going to argue with him, but in my opinion, he is the most saintly of the well-known priests who write books and give talks.

  2. Is your sister Susan Boyle? :)

  3. I went on a retreat earlier this year at Pentasaph and Father Fidelis gave the main addresses and was available for counselling. What a great priest he is, and Father Groeschel, as we all know, is fantastic. Pray for all these good priests.

  4. Stargazer: she was until she married! :)

  5. I’m glad Fr. Groeschel talked about Purgatory as he did. Even the saints never took it for granted that – barring martyrdom - they would go straight to Heaven. In fact many – even mystics - feared they would go to Hell!

    Some time ago I came across a devotion dedicated to helping the souls of priests who are in Purgatory. The thinking behind the devotion is that few people – other than immediate family – think of praying for deceased priests. Also that many people probably assume that most priests go straight to Heaven! However, many priests (most? – especially diocesan priests…) die without having a priest in attendance or the benefit of the Last Rites.

    I have embraced this devotion, admittedly not entirely from altruistic motives, for - as we know - any help we give to the Holy Souls will be returned by them once they reach Heaven. But then that is the Mystical Body of Christ – and we all have our part in it.


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