Many families count “Father B” as “one of them,” and he drew great satisfaction from his inclusion in their weddings, baptisms, funerals, sporting events, birthday and anniversary celebrations and any other event that drew multiple generations together.
Services will be at St. John the Evangelist Cathedral. Interment will be in St. John Cemetery.
Visitation was observed in Martin & Castille’s downtown Lafayette location on Tuesday, March 15, 2011 from 1:00 PM to 8:00 PM and on Wednesday from 8:00 AM until time of service.
A Rosary was prayed by Reverend Kenneth Bienvenu on Tuesday at 7:00 PM in Martin & Castille Funeral Home.
The Most Reverend Michael Jarrell, Bishop, Diocese of Lafayette, will be the Celebrant of the Funeral Mass and conduct the funeral services.
Benefiel was a veteran of World War II and a successful businessman and educator before becoming a priest. He was assigned to St. Anthony’s twice - for two years in the early 1970’s and for four years beginning in 1976.
An educator as well as a priest, Monsignor Benefiel was responsible for three Catholic schools in the Diocese of Lafayette over the course of nearly two decades: St. Cecilia School in Broussard, LA, St. Edmund High School in Eunice, LA and St. Landry Memorial in Lake Charles, LA.
Survivors include three nephews, Sidney Becnel, Jr., Darryl Becnel and Michael Becnel; and three nieces, Kathleen Jennings, Mary Ann Becnel and Elaine Romero. He was preceded in death by his parents, Harry Ernest Benefiel and Mary Agnes Fitzgerald Benefiel; his sister, Lorrain B. Becnel; two brothers, Raymond Lee Benefiel and George G. Benefiel; and one brother-in-law, Sidney J. Becnel of Lafayette, Louisiana.
The monsignor was a native of Kenner.
Upon graduation from Southwestern Louisiana Institute in 1941, hel worked as an accountant for the Federal Land Bank in New Orleans before volunteering for service in 1941 in the U.S. Coast Guard in the Pacific Theater during World War II.
After the war, he earned his MBA from Louisiana State University in 1948, and appointed to head the Department of Commerce at McNeese State University in Lake Charles, where he served from 1948 to 1953.
In September 1953, he entered Boston College in preparation for entry into St. John’s Seminary in Little Rock, Arkansas. He received his Bachelor of Theology Degree on May 1, 1960 and was ordained a Roman Catholic Priest on May 21, 1960 for the Diocese of Lafayette, Louisiana.
Benefiel was assigned as a Priest to the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Lafayette, Louisiana from June 11, 1960 to January 23, 1963. He was named Principal of Landry Memorial High School in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and served there from January 23, 1963 to June 15, 1968.
He was the first Pastor of St. Pius X Church in Lafayette, Louisiana, and served that congregation from June 15, 1968 to January 5, 1972. From January 1972 until February 1974, he served as Pastor of St. Anthony’s Church in Eunice, Louisiana. He was next appointed Pastor of Sacred Heart in Broussard, Louisiana from February 23, 1974 to January 10, 1976; and returned to Eunice as Pastor of St. Anthony’s Church in Eunice, Louisiana from January 10, 1976 to July 1, 1980.
After leaving his last pastoral appointment, he served as the Lafayette Diocesan Insurance-Parish Fiscal Affairs Coordinator from July 1, 1980 to January 1, 1982. He was named Vicar for Management-Finance for the Diocese of Lafayette in 1982 and later was named Diocesan Consultor and Diocesan Coordinator for Health Affairs. Monsignor Benefiel was the Chairman of the Diocesan Building Review Board, a member of the Diocesan Finance Board, the Parish Review Board, the Clergy Welfare Board, the Property and Liability Insurance, Health Insurance, Parish Boundaries and New Parish Development boards and the Holy Rosary Board of Trustees.
In addition to his service to the Diocese, Monsignor Benefiel took an active interest in his community, serving on the Lafayette Parks and Recreation Commission, and keenly followed politics.
Monsignor Benefiel was also passionate about golf, hunting, fishing and dining and he took great joy in the time he spent on the golf course - hitting a hole in one, at least once -i n duck blinds, on the water and at the dinner tables of his friends.
Donations may be made to St. Edmund High School, 351 West Magnolia Ave., Eunice, LA 70535-3319.
Pallbearers will be Freddie Fruge, Pat Manuel, Charles Patin, Harold Bernard, Roland Dugas, Jim Weber, Reverend Angelo Cremaldi and Reverend Kenneth Bienvenu. Honorary pallbearers are Theresa Broussard, Mark Dugas, Freddie Fruge, II, Steve Laborde and Brian Tanner.