A Gentle Spirit, A Pastoral Heart
In his quiet, caring manner, Friar Benjamin Knopp, OFM Conv. devoted his life to pastoral service in parishes, and as a hospital and Navy chaplain. He had a sweet tooth, a passion for cheeseburgers and classical music, and an eternal openness to trying something different, taking up bingo and yoga after moving to Nazareth Retirement Home in Louisville, Kentucky. Fr. Benjamin died Friday, July 8, 2016, at Nazareth Home in Louisville, Kentucky.
He was born Alfred Leo Knopp August 13, 1928, to Ulysses B. and Ann Ruby (Ballard) Knopp. He entered the Conventual Franciscan Order in 1947. He professed Simple Vows on July 13, 1947, and Solemn Vows on July 14, 1950. He was ordained a Priest on May 30, 1955.
He came from a family committed to service of the Catholic Church – one of his sisters was a Sister of Charity of Nazareth, two of his brothers were Conventual Franciscan Friars, and another was a priest of the Archdiocese of Louisville. In 1949, his mother received the Donna Pica Award (named for the mother of St. Francis of Assisi) as the Franciscan Mother of the Year.
He was a devoted chaplain, spending many years in hospital ministry in Louisville, Kentucky, and Lansing, Michigan. People still approach Friars in the Louisville area, saying they remember Fr. Ben from his service at Sts. Mary and Elizabeth Hospital in the South End. He also spent six years as a Navy chaplain in Japan, the Philippines, and Adak.
Although his taste in music was classical, Fr. Ben had simple tastes in his food. He was a well-known candy enthusiast, and his favorite meal consisted of a cheeseburger, french fries, and a coke, even when dining at a nice steak house. An introvert by nature, Fr. Ben endured long Chapter Meetings, often remarking that “A little community goes a long way.” He spoke of his first assignment, as Assistant Pastor at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation in Carey, Ohio, where he served under the direction of the very disciplined Fr. Hubert Kobunski, OFM Conv., as his “second novitiate.”
He was predeceased by his parents, his sisters Anna Louise and Mary Jane (Sr. Paula Ann, Sister of Charity of Nazareth), brothers Raymond Benjamin (Fr. Leo, OFM Conv.), Paul Joseph (Fr. Xavier, OFM Conv.), John William, and Fr. Henry Robert, a priest of the Archdiocese of Louisville. He is survived by his sister, Marguerite Joanna Beha, six nieces (Linda DiDonato, Mary Kaye Welch, Diane Lange, Roseann Harwood, Julie Dicken, Amy Tindel, and Nancy Stocker), four nephews (Steve Knopp, Michael Knopp, George Beha, and Paul Beha), and numerous great-nieces and –nephews.
A funeral Mass for Fr. Ben took place Tuesday, July 12, at St. Paul Catholic Church, Louisville, KY. The following is a recording of the homily.
Burial followed at the Friars’ Cemetery, Mount St. Francis, Indiana. Memorial gifts to support the Missions of the Conventual Franciscan Friars may be sent to The Province of Our Lady of Consolation, Development Office, 103 St. Francis Drive, Mount St. Francis, Indiana, 47146 or by clicking here.