Father Groeschel Suffers Stroke

Father Groeschel speaks last October during EWTN's Family Celebration at Northern Illinois University.
Father Groeschel speaks last October during EWTN's Family Celebration at Northern Illinois University. (photo: CNS)

Father Benedict Groeschel, whose whole life has been spent preaching the Gospel, suffered a minor stroke in mid-March, leaving him with some speech difficulties.

Father Benedict made the news public on his regular Sunday evening talk show March 29 on the Eternal Word Television Network, “Sunday Night Live With Father Benedict Groeschel.”

Appearing before a live audience, the 75-year-old Franciscan Friar of the Renewal noted that he had missed the show the previous Sunday because he had suffered a stroke overnight March 20-21. Another member of his community, Father Andrew Apostoli, also well-known to EWTN viewers, substituted for him.

Father Benedict’s speech was obviously impaired as he revealed the news, and he misspoke Father Andrew’s name as Father Augustine.

He also confused a recent story in the news when he said that the University of Notre Dame was receiving an award from President Obama.

But Father Benedict said that his speech difficulties improve as he continues to talk, and, in fact, by the time the one-hour program was over, he was speaking much more normally. He even poked fun at himself for getting Father Andrew’s name wrong: “I’ll never live that down.”

His guest on the program was author Immaculée Ilibagiza, whose book Left to Tell described her experience during the mid-1990s tribal conflict in Rwanda that left 800,000 people dead. Although the subject of the interview was her new book, Our Lady of Kibeho, and the Vatican’s approval of the apparition, Father Benedict and callers to the program also discussed Ilibagiza’s survival of the atrocities in Rwanda and the role her faith played in it.

As if to drive home the need for faith and hope during such times, Father Benedict, near the end of the program, repeated the news that he had suffered a stroke. He said he decided to go ahead with his program so that viewers who may be suffering in some way won’t give up.

Father Groeschel also announced that he was beginning a new series on the network.

— John Burger