Benignus Smith, OFM
1912 – 1988
Br. Benignus Smith, OFM, was born in New York City on May 11, 1912. He came to know the Franciscans through the friars at St. Francis of Assisi Church on 31st Street and became a tertiary brother Dec. 15, 1938.
He was received into the Province’s novitiate at St. Bonaventure Friary in Paterson, N.J., Sept. 4, 1940, and professed temporary vows Aug. 6, 1941. While in temporary vows, Br. Benignus was assigned to Holy Cross Friary in the Bronx where he served as sacristan. He professed his solemn vows Sept. 17, 1944, and was assigned to St. Francis where he worked as porter for 14 years.
Hospitality was characteristic of Br. Benignus, and he served as a tour guide of New York City for many friars who passed through 31st Street friary. In 1965, he was transferred to St. Anthony Friary in Butler, N.J., where he was porter for 23 years.
Br. Benignus was a steady, reliable, matter-of-fact friar, whose very name symbolized his life of kindness and gentleness. He died in Warwick, N.Y., on July 16, 1988. He was 76 years old and a professed friar for almost 47 years.