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!