Gratitude is a great word to begin with here today. Pause for a moment and consider what it may mean to you.
It was put to me quite recently that I did not possess “not even an ounce” of gratitude. I considered the point being made and it is definitely “au contraire” .
I found myself faced with some sad news that same day and my entire thoughts became filled with gratitude. My emotions, now writing this are filled with gratitude. Often times we forget the people that have come into our lives, for whatever reason, we move on and we grow and we do indeed evolve along our own journey. Yes we have all met many people along our journey. I have even noticed a post on social media recently asking people if they can remember an influential person from their childhood days, a school teacher or someone that inspired their entire life.
It is worth giving some thought to for sure.
I wish to use this post today to make public a deep sense of gratitude that I possess for a man who by his own good nature afforded me a wonderful opportunity in life.
Rev. Fr. Roch Bennett O.F.M cap.
Fr. Roch passed away on Monday evening/night at the ripe age of 97. Now that I think of it, he seemed 97 when I met him first, all those years ago.
Maybe it was just me but when a Capuchin brother who wears a brown robe and has a grey beard and is as big a man as Fr. Roch, in his spirit and presence, well they just seem older, maybe because he oozed wisdom. Yeah that could be it alright, his wisdom made him seem older.
I have a ton of fond memories to share with you about the great and mighty Fr. Roch, for all those who knew him well, they can attest to how sometimes you just didn’t want to hear or know he was on his way.
It is not that Fr. Roch was with me for any great length of time in my life or any great deep conversations we may have had. Some of the laughs we had shared over the years or even some of the sermons he would dive in to when we were just having a casual coffee. It was his vision and again his wisdom. For Fr, Roch to have existed meant a man in the world had an idea and gave it his all and created something which then in turn gave me a great opportunity in my life. I am sure there are tens of thousands of people that are saddened by the news of his passing and many of whom can recall a story or two that will bring a smile to their face even a laugh, a deep chuckle type laugh that Roch himself would have. Like everyone in the world, there are sure to be good and bad stories and when the good outweigh the bad a million to one, then these are my point of focus.
Because Fr. Roch existed in the world I was given an opportunity to begin my life all over again.
Many hands can be raised to testify of similar. I was a wayward type teenager and I had a ton of trouble on my plate. Officials of all kinds knew who I was and the common answer from most was, send him to jail. Though when in court and pleading for my own release it was only because Fr. Roch had established an adolescent treatment center that I was given a chance. I did not know of or had ever heard of the man prior to me being 17 and in a whole bunch of trouble.
Yes indeed, I put in the work on myself and I have lived my life as a sober living person ever since those days, yes it is true. The scenario that came about though that day I was in court and given a suspended sentence to be in residential treatment in the county of Cork Ireland. When the courts had heard that all the alcohol treatment facilities were for much older adults and that prison was not the place for me, a counselor who had done some work placement in this “new adolescent treatment center in cork” spoke up on my behalf and the judge gave me that chance.
Yes to the judge that day I am grateful, yes to all who spoke on my behalf that day in court I am grateful. Though the gratitude that exists in my life is recalled by the passing of Fr. Roch this week.
Fr. Roch saw that there was no bad in anybody and that every person deserved a chance. His work on keeping kids off the streets of Cork and getting troubled youth jobs and placement on courses and pushing people to better themselves in their own lives is what stood out to me the more and more I got to know the man. It is because he saw that an idea about helping and doing good in his community just like he had taken his vows to do so was what he stood by.
He sure did love his religion too and a few sweets here and there. A scone and some butter, yeah he had a bit of sweet tooth alright. The man helped so many in his lifetime it would be too many to begin getting in to and I can humbly say, I AM EVER GRATEFUL to Fr. Roch for his vision, his putting together teams of excellent staff members and his continued begging to keep us going.
He used to joke about his main profession was that he was a professional beggar as he had taken a vow of poverty when he entered into the brother hood and so that made him by trade a professional beggar.
His begging kept us alive and well in the treatment center and we ate like kings during our time there. We received a small weekly allowance and we had everything at our disposal. Sports centers, summer holidays, schooling, one to one counselling, horse back riding on weekends, sweets and goodies when he would visit (even when he came to give out and call us ungrateful ha-ha) he still brought the sweets/candy.
Top to bottom, managerial staff, a day center, a phase one, two & three residential facilities, a home for youth other than the drug and alcohol rehab, staff living facilities, boy oh boy his begging amassed a massive amount of resources to continue to push on and help people. WOW.
The world has lost one of the greats this week in Fr. Roch’s passing. A fond lover of the Kilkenny cats and all the hurling championships. Roch loved sport and part of our routine involved a daily run every morning before breakfast. Heavens knows how I hated getting up to go running every morning, lol. Fr.Roch is a legend and always will be.
I write this post to give a tiny glimmer into how much of an amazing man Roch was. One doesn’t meet these kinds of people often and there are often times we will forget those who have helped us in such a subliminal way.
Because Fr. Roch existed in this world I got a second opportunity at life. I have lived, loved and lost and I remain EVER GRATEFUL to the mighty Fr. Roch.
Rest now Father and don’t run a muck in heaven, in the words of your father “let them all go to hell” lololololol