On October 3rd, the Vigil of the Feast of St. Francis, Father Benedict Groeschel took his leave from this earth after saying the rosary. News of his passing quickly took over Catholic social media and news outlets. Everyone had a story to tell about Father Benedict, whether it was a quote from their favorite book, a personal encounter with Father, or how he completely changed the direction of some lives – actually many lives. The new book, Father Benedict Groeschel, A Conversational Biography, offers a fresh perspective on the life of this extraordinary person, friend, father, friar, and Priest. Recently, I had a chance to speak with the author, Joe Quattrocchi, about how the book came to be.
Back in 2009, just around the time of his 50th Anniversary of his Ordination, Chris Bell asked Father Benedict if we could honor him in some way. Father declined initially, but when Chris explained that it could be a way to support Good Counsel Homes, he changed his mind and agreed! Chris then asked Joe, currently a Fund Development Specialist for Good Counsel, to write the book. Father’s biography would be Joe’s first book, but he was up for the labor of love.
Of his initial plan for writing the biography, Joe stated, “I was hoping for a couple of sit-downs with Father, but there only wound up being one. Shortly after I interviewed him he had a minor stroke. Basically, I had from April to August to write. I knew there was no way I could do a narrative, so I leaned on my journalistic background and wrote it in a Q&A format. I think it proved better in the end because it does allow each individual to say what was on their mind with virtually no editing from me.”
Joe first met Fr. Benedict in Yonkers around 1989 having been reluctantly dragged to one of his talks by his two sisters. He was hooked and began attending monthly talks began to take part in the tradition of attending Good Friday services at Holy Trinity in Mamaroneck, NY, to hear Father Benedict preach.
Divine providence led Joe to eventually work for Chris Bell and Good Counsel Homes where he got to spend more time around and with Fr. Benedict at board meetings and dinners. “Those were some of the most special meals I ever had. It was a pleasure to break bread and chat with Father Benedict.”
Joe’s hope is that the book serves as an “opportunity to celebrate a priest who was like a friend to so many of us.” Much has been written about Father Benedict since his passing, but Joe adds further, “I like to think that this book allows the reader to get an inner look at the man, through his biological sister, through people he worked with, mentored and had an association with. Some of the stories may already be known, but it is a treasure to have such a personal dynamic all in one place. Upon re-reading the book, I still get a kick out of hearing he wanted to be a fireman and his father wanted him to be a Jesuit.”
What you’ll find inside A Conversational Biography…
- 24 pages of inspiring, profound, and humorous stories from the life of Father Benedict
- Intimate conversations with those close to Father Benedict, including Father Benedict’s sister, Majule Drury, Christopher Bell, Fr. Andrew Apostoli, and more!
- An interview with Father Benedict from 2009, where he describes his life as a young priest and his experience with death a few years before
As we still mourn for Father Benedict and miss him greatly, he remains in our hearts and minds at Good Counsel. We constantly hound him for prayers and intercession in keeping up the work of helping homeless, pregnant mothers, babies, and children – a mission he helped to begin almost 30 years ago.