Benjamin J. Foerch, OFM
1932 – 2004
Fr. Benjamin J. Foerch, OFM, was born on Aug. 21, 1932, in Bergenfield, N.J. After his graduation from St. Cecilia High School in Englewood, N.J., he enlisted in the Navy, serving until 1953. He attended St. Peter’s College in Jersey City, N.J., before studying at St. Joseph’s Seraphic Seminary in Callicoon N.Y., graduatin gin 1958.
Fr. Benjamin was received into the Franciscan Order July 14, 1958, at St. Raphael Friary in Lafayette, N.J. On July 15, 1959, he professed temporary vows there. Fr. Ben professed solemn vows Aug. 22, 1962, at Christ the King Seminary in Allegany, N.Y. He completed his theological studies at Holy Name College in Washington, D.C., and was ordained a priest March 13, 1965, at Mount St. Sepulchre in Washington.
After ordination, Fr. Ben spent a year of intensive studies at the Language and Linguistics Institute at Georgetown University and completed his studies in 1966. He spent almost four decades of ministry as a Franciscan priest, during which he experienced three specific forms of ministerial service.
At the age of 34, Fr. Ben volunteered to serve as a dedicated missionary in Bolivia, where he served for six years and modeled patience, love and devotion.
He returned to the United States to serve as parochial vicar at St. Francis of Assisi Church in New York City. He served at the West 31st Street parish for 11 years as a kind confessor, simple preacher of the Word, prayerful celebrant of the Eucharist and wonderful listener. In 1984, Fr. Ben was called to work among the sick. He moved from New York to Wilkes-Barre, Pa., where he served as a chaplain at the Veterans Administration Hospital. Fr. Ben lived with the friars in Wilkes-Barre for 18 years before resuming his ministry in New York City.
Fr. Ben was a zealous missionary in Bolivia and a quiet, gentle presence at St. Francis. He was a dedicated and faithful chaplain and a simple friar whose life and ministry reflected the Gospel.
He died June 24, 2004, in the hotel room where he had lived with some of the relocated 31st Street friars. Fr. Ben was 71 years old, a professed friar for almost 45 years and a priest for 39 years.