RIP Mr. Joe Benedetti

My boyhood Parish of St. Benedict’s in Richmond Virginia will be filling up in an hour for Joe Benedetti. I’ve often told people that when I was in high school the Godfather of one of my sister’s decided to run for the State House, my Dad wrote a letter on his behalf, and I went around and knocked on every door I could to hand it out. His election set me on course for four decades of canvassing neighborhoods for candidates and causes in eight states.

That candidate was Joe Benedetti, and I am somewhat nostalgic for the days when someone like him spent decades of serving the community (Knights of Columbus, the National Conference of Christians and Jews, etc.) and then ran for office. In the recent mid-term elections $4 billion was spent, but I was still thankful to have grassroots trump money in a couple of my last elections such as Larry Stutts defeating Senate Minority Leader in Alabama (who ironically was first elected the same year I was knocking on doors for Mr. Benedetti, 1982).

Mr. Benedetti’s love for his community was not just for show. I used to serve 6:45 a.m. Mass at St. Benedicts, and he would be there most days – one of only 6 to 12 on average so hardly a political gathering (I used to count them from the altar to make sure the Priest had enough communion hosts out).

When I returned to Virginia after four years at Marquette I will never forget my call to Mr. Benedetti.

“Mr. Benedetti, I am working at the Charlottesville Daily Progress, but I want to try to get into politics and run campaigns in about 10 years, is there anyone here I should meet?”

Mr. Benedetti: “Have you met George Allen yet?”

Me: “The football coach?”

Mr. Benedetti: “No, his son George Allen moved there to play for UVa, and he pulled a big upset to win a House seat there. The Democrats are really scared of him because we all think he is going places, but I don’t believe they can beat him. You need to go meet him right away, I will give him a call.”

A few weeks later I was working for George Allen, and putting together a press conference for George and Joe Benedetti’s former law partner Jim Gilmore, then Henrico County Commonwealth’s Attorney.

I know Mr. Benedetti is probably reliving all the ways he changed people’s lives without knowing it – much like “It’s a Wonderful Life,” That one call placed by him resulted in me working for the next two Governor’s of Virginia – Allen and Gilmore.

When he ran for Attorney General he called and asked for my advice in getting into some new areas of the state he didn’t know as well, and he asked if I could see if anyone in the Knights of Columbus could help in Southside Virginia.

“Mr. Benedetti, in Southside Virginia my Catholic friends all go to church Saturday night to make sure noone knows they are Catholic,” I told him.

His wife Peggy passed away shortly thereafter – a wonderful woman and friend of my parents whose cheerfulness even as she visibly struggled through cancer that last year was an inspiration to us all.

At her funeral I was happy that George Allen and many other protestants were going to St. Benedicts to see a Catholic Mass for the first time. It all went well until the sign of peace. Every time someone greeted George with “Peace be with you,” he returned his charming grin and said matter-of-factly, “Peace through Strength!” quoting Ronald Reagan.

The last time I saw Mr. Benedetti was at a fundraiser at one of his son’s house for a very special cause. St. Benedict’s had been very kind to the nine Pudner children – getting us all through school for almost no money while priests were even known to bring a bag of groceries by the house if they found out we were hungry. With nine children of our own it was years before we could contribute anything, but finally I had my chance.

We had one good year, and the first check of any size I wrote was to pay for one child’s tuition at St. Benedict’s – still very reasonably priced. Then a couple of years later one of Mr. Benedetti’s sons called me about a fundraiser the school desperately needed as they stayed committed to staying in the city instead of moving out to the much more affluent suburbs.

Mr. Benedetti’s son inherited his charm and used it to get a little more out of me than I would have done on my own, but I was very proud when Mr. Benedetti walked into his son’s house on Monument Avenue and saw, “The Pudners” as one of the sponsors of the event.

We managed to connect, and have what turned out to be our last conversation. It was just a few minutes, and I couldn’t convey how important he had been to my career because there were a couple of hundred people there, and it seemed everyone had something for which they needed to thank Mr. Benedetti.

Yes, it truly was a wonderful life – RIP Mr. Benedetti and may the Mass and funeral in an hour bring peace to all the Benedetti children and the whole St. Benedict’s and Richmond Virginia community that has lost such a true champion on this earth.

John Pudner


246 E. Glenn Street

Auburn AL 36830

Ushers Needed for the Christmas Concert 12/1/14

Subject: Commonwealth Catholic Charities Christmas Concert


Sir Knights,


Commonwealth Catholic Charities (CCC) has once again requested that the Richmond area Assemblies provide the ushers for the Christmas Concert to be held on Monday, December 1, 2014 at the Cathedral. The Sir Knights always enhance the experience of the guests and the feedback on our participation is always positive and gratifying.


CCC has graciously offered to allow each Sir Knight that serves, free admission for himself and for one guest (wife). Also, this year CCC is going to provide the Sir Knights and their guest our own hospitality room with refreshments.


This is not a color corp event so any Sir Knight can serve as an usher if interested.




Social Baldric


Arrival time as an usher will be 5:30, with the concert beginning at 7:00.

Please let me know of your interest with copy to Executive Secretary and PSD Kelly Mortensen,

You can also sign-up via Sign-up Genius with the following link:


If you do not want to serve as an usher, but would like to attend the concert, information is below on that as well.

From the CCC website:



December 1 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

| $ – $40.00

Join us at 7 p.m. (doors open at 6 PM) on Monday, December 1st, 2014 as we celebrate our Holiday Festival of Music!

At our 23rd Annual Christmas Concert, the festive evening will include traditional carols and a sing-a-long.  It will feature the Cathedral Choir, accompanied by the Richmond Symphony. This concert will be conducted by Dr. Patrick Carlin.

Ring in the holiday season with us, while benefiting the over 39,000 people we serve on a yearly basis.

Individual tickets are $40.

Patron tickets are $150 (2 tickets and listed as a “Patron” in the program) and will be available until November 7th.  For Patron tickets and Sponsorships, please contact Morgan at or at (804) 545-5942.


Thanks for all your help, please advise of questions.



Sean P. Connor

Afton Chemical

Sr. Business Specialist – Metalworking

804.788.5191 (office)

804.347.4355 (mobile)




Christmas Eve Mass with Men’s Ministry Choir

Subject: Christmas Eve & The Gentlemen of St. Bridget


Greetings Friends,


We have again been asked to lead the congregation in carols and liturgical singing @ the 8:00 PM Mass Christmas Eve this year! We hope you will be able to join us. This will be our annual black tie event.


I’ve spoken with Allen Bean. He has generously offered 3 dates on which he will meet us to practice (it’s been awhile – July 4!) and prepare for Christmas Eve. It is our thought that for a gentleman to sing Christmas Eve, he should attend at least one (preferably more) of the practice sessions listed here:


December 13 (Saturday): 7:30 AM Rehearsal in Church Hall


December 14 (Sunday): 10 AM in Church Hall (or as soon as the 9 AM Mass is over)


December 21 (Sunday): 10 AM in Church Hall (or as soon as the 9 AM Mass is over)


Would you please be so kind as to reply here with (1) your intentions to sing Christmas Eve, and (2) without necessarily naming the date(s), your commitment to attending at least one of the practice sessions listed?


Thank you as always!




Keep Christ in Christmas – “Santa’s Priority”
The heartwarming and captivating evangomercial™ we’ve been telling you about, called Santa’s Priority, is here! Catholics Come Home® is excited to introduce you to one of our best ads yet, with a message that is sure to remind our commercial-driven culture what Christmas is all about: the birth of Jesus Christ!

Christ_Jesus in manger
Catholics Come Home® debuts its new ad, Santa’s Priority!
From Thanksgiving to Christmas, Catholics Come Home plans to air our new “Keep Christ in Christmas” evangomercialTM.  This campaign promises to be a powerful weapon against the secularism that has crept into our society and lured many of our loved ones away from Jesus, our true hope and reason for the Christmas season.  With your support, we plan to reach 64 million viewers nationwide, with 70 spots in prime-time, during the most popular Christmas movies on ABC Family (like The Grinch and The Santa Clause, etc.), Hallmark and Lifetime channels each night between the holidays. We will also air in prime-time on NBC in the classic movie, It’s A Wonderful Life and during the popular Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade airing on CBS.

Enjoy this special first look at our Santa’s Priority ad. To ensure this evangomercial™ is seen by many, along with our many other powerful evangomercials™ and TV productions, please make us your priority in your giving during these special Thanksgiving and Advent seasons, as we need to raise $300,000 to make this campaign a reality.
Also, share this ad with your friends on your social media accounts, tagging our Catholics Come Home Facebook page or Twitter account, and via email. Let’s make sure this evangomercial™ reaches many!


As always, we thank you for your continued support of our mission to invite Catholics and non-Catholics home to the Catholic Church, during the Advent and Christmas seasons, as well as all year round!
 Your brother in Christ,

Tom Peterson and your team

The Image/Random House book entitled, “Catholics Come Home…God’s Extraordinary Plan for Your Life” authored by Tom Peterson, with Foreward by Dr. Scott Hahn, is now available at your local Catholic bookstore and at is a 501(c)(3) non-profit media apostolate, dedicated to producing and airing Catholic evangelism television ads on local, national and international television networks.  Catholics Come Home® is guided by a 30 person Advisory Board, including Cardinal Seán O’Malley, Bishop Thomas Olmsted, Bishop Michael Sheridan, Bishop Jaime Soto, Bishop James Conley, and other highly respected theologians and Catholic business executives.

Evangomercial is a trademark of Catholics Come Home, Inc. Catholics Come Home® is a Federally Registered Trademark of Catholics Come Home, Inc.

Food Pantry UPDATE:

Food_Cooking Girl

Commonwealth Catholic Food Pantry

In October you donated 106 bags of groceries that helped to feed 214 households in the Richmond area.

Our next food drive will be December  14th when the Knights of Columbus and parish volunteers will be handing out empty grocery bags after all masses.  Please take an empty grocery bag home  and return it the next weekend.

During this blessed  season of Advent the gift of food to those less fortunate is a gift of love.  Thank you for your continued support of this ministry.


Food Pantry This Weekend – last prior to Christmas

Subject: Re: St. Bridget’s Knights of Columbus Food Bag Distribution

See below and notice from CCC. Please step up to help if you are around this weekend. Thanks!


Commonwealth Catholic Charities’ food pantry is in desperate need of food donations

Our community food pantry is currently unable to meet the needs of the hungry families who count on us to sustain them during hard times. We’re asking Richmonders to help us provide for families what they are currently unable to provide for themselves. Non-perishable food can be delivered to the CCC office at 1601 Rolling Hills Drive,Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
On Nov 3, 2014, at 7:33 AM, CKoz654 <> wrote:


This weekend is the last collection before Thanksgiving!  Last month we collected 141 bags. Please help hand out the bags after the Mass you attend on November 8 or 9. I will put the bags out on Saturday. If you cover 5 on Sunday, please put any unused bags in the closet. Thanks for your help.



Brother Knights,

I am pleased to report  Tom Fiden, Dale Matanic, John Vandersyde and Ron Coombs have been exemplified to the Fourth Degree on Saturday November 1, 2014.

Our new Sir Knights were among 185 Virginia 3rd Degree Knights that advanced to Full Knighthood.

Our Supreme & State Officers proclaimed that we Knights are all Catholic Americans and that this Patriot degree of our Order strengthens our fraternal causes dedicated to our love of Country, love of Church and love of Family.

Please extend your congrats to these most Worthy Sir Knights!


Gary Port

Deputy Grand Knight-Council 5476


In These Dark Days, the Church Needs Her Men to be Men

By: Msgr. Charles Pope

american Family on hill

This is a post that Satan apparently did not like. When I posted it last Thursday, the Server of the Archdiocese (literally) burnt up within an hour or two of posting. And while things are slowly coming back online, the post you are about to read could not be found in the archive file, anywhere. Thanks be to God some intrepid readers ( had saved the post which I had not had time to back up. So here is a post that I suspect Satan did not want you to read. But the devil is a liar and God is able.


When I was growing up, my father would often exhort me to “be a man.” He would summon me to courage and responsibility and to discover the heroic capacity that was in me. St. Paul summoned forth a spiritual manhood with these words: We [must] all attain to the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the extent of the full stature of Christ, so that we may no longer be infants, tossed by waves and swept along by every wind of teaching arising from human trickery, from their cunning in the interests of deceitful scheming. Rather, living the truth in love, we should grow in every way into him who is the head, Christ (Eph 4:13ff).

If the ladies will pardon me (for women have their own sort of strength), I want to issue a special summons to men,especially fathers, husbands, and priests. The summons is simple: be a man. We need men in these dark days, men who will heroically speak and act, men who will announce the truth and insist upon it wherever they have authority, men who will stop being passive fathers and husbands, priests who will stop “playing it safe” by remaining silent in the moral storm. Yes, be a man.

It has often been observed that men are rather disengaged from the practice of the faith and attendance at the Sacred Liturgy. Frankly, there is a reason—not a politically correct one, but a reason nonetheless. Most of the men I talk to find the Church rather feminized. There is much talk in the Church about forgiveness and love, about receptivity and about being “nicer.” These are fine virtues, all of them necessary. But men also want to be engaged, to be sent into battle, to go forth and make a difference.

After years of radical feminism, men are shamed for seeking to take up leadership and authority in their families and in the Church. It starts early.  Any normal boy is full of spit and vinegar, is aggressive, competitive, and anxious to test his wings. But many boys are scolded, punished, and even medicated for these normal tendencies. They are told to behave more like girls and to learn to be nicer and to get along, etc. It will be granted that limits are necessary, but the tendency for boys to roughhouse is normal. The scolding and “socializing” to more feminine traits continues apace into early adulthood. And then there are other cultural phenomena such as the slew of “Men are stupid” commercials, etc.

Though many in past decades have sought to describe the Church as “male-dominated,” nothing could be further from the truth. Most parish leadership structures are dominated by women. And women do fine work. But the Church has done a very poor job of engaging men as men and equipping them to be strong husbands, fathers, and priests. Virtues related to bold leadership and the effective use of authority are in short supply whereas other virtues such as collaboration, listening, empathy, and understanding are overemphasized.

This lack of balance, wherein traditionally manly virtues are downplayed—even shamed—has led many men to become disengaged from the Church.

Even as early as 1885, Pope Leo XIII saw coming a softness that was infecting the times. In a document aptly named (and using a word too many clergy and fathers are afraid to use) Quod Auctoritate, Pope Leo said:

You know the temper of the times—how many there are who love to live delicately and shrink from whatever requires manhood and generosity; who, when ailments come, discover in them sufficient reasons for not obeying the salutary laws of the Church, thinking the burden laid upon them more than they can bear . . . perils everywhere abound. The great virtues of our forefathers have in large measure disappeared; the most violent passions have claimed a freer indulgence; the madness of opinion which knows no restraint, or at least no effective restraint, every day extends further; [and yet among] those whose principles are sound there are many who, through a misplaced timidity, are frightened, and have not the courage even to speak out their opinions boldly, far less to translate them into deeds; everywhere the worst examples are affecting public morals; wicked societies which We ourselves have denounced before now, skilled in all evil arts, are doing their best to lead the people astray, and as far as they are able, to withdraw them from God, their duty, and Christianity . . . Therefore those who speak to the people should lay it down persistently and clearly that according not only to the law of the Gospel, but even to the dictates of natural reason, a man is bound to govern himself and keep his passions under strict control, and moreover, that sin cannot be expiated except by penance . . . In order therefore that Our teaching may sink into men’s minds, and what is the great thing, actually govern their daily lives, an attempt must be made to bring them to think and act like Christians, not less in public than in private.

Not a bad summons to heroic and public witness to the faith! Not a bad summons to manly virtueslike sacrifice, strength, insisting on what is right, meeting perils toe-to-toe, courage, speaking out, self-control, and so forth. The Church used to speak more often in this way. Today there seems to be only the goal of not hurting or offending anyone.

The disengagement of men from the Church has come to mean that many Christian men are passive fathers and husbands. They have not matured in their faith but remain in a kind of spiritual childhood. They are not the spiritual leaders in their homes that Scripture summons them to be (cf. Eph 5). If they go to Church at all, their wives have to drag them there. They do not teach their children to pray, insist that they practice the faith, or read Scripture to them. Too often, they leave this for their wives to do.

Thankfully, many men do take up their proper role. They have reached spiritual manhood and understand their responsibilities in the Lord. They live courageously and are leaders. They are the ones first up on Sunday morning leading their families to Church and insisting on religious practice in the home. They initiate prayer and Scripture reading and are vigorous moral leaders and teachers in their families, parishes, and communities. They are willing to battle for the truth and to speak up for what is right.

You see, the Lord is looking for a few good men. Are you a Christian man? Have you reached spiritual manhood? This is not the kind of manhood that comes merely with age. It comes when we pray, hear, and heed Scripture and the teachings of the Church. It comes when we live the faith courageously and summon others to follow Jesus without compromise. It comes when we speak the truth in love and live out the truth. It comes when we fear God and thus fear no man, for when we are able to kneel before God we can stand before any human threat.

I recently had a radio/podcast conversation with Matthew Christoff who has begun an outreach to Catholic men called “Emangelization.”  The general goal is to re-engage men as men, to summon them to discipleship as men, and to engage them in the masculine virtues that God gave them. The link to our talk is here: Men and the Church, A Call for Emangelization

Matthew Christoff  has also pulled together has pulled together some information and written some interesting articles: