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The Right Rev. Maurice M.  Benitez, D.D.

The Right Rev. Maurice M. Benitez, D.D.
  • January 23, 1928 - February 27, 2014
  • Austin, Texas
  • Memorials are suggested to the Episcopal High School (www.ehshouston.org), Camp Allen Conference & Retreat Center (www.campallen.org), or to one's home parish.

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“My name is Georgia Isaac and I live in Jacksonville, Florida and my husband Fred and I met Ben when he was a canon at St John's Cathedral. His time...Read More »
1 of 39 | Posted by: Georgia D. isaac - Jacksonville, FL

“My deepest condolence on the passing of a great friend and mentor. I 've known the Bishop and Joanne since 1980 where I worked as a checker at the...Read More »
2 of 39 | Posted by: Alex Khoo - San Francisco, CA

“I send my upmost regards in the passing of thier beloved husband and father Ben and i were stationed at Eglin AFB Florida when he was in fighter test...Read More »
3 of 39 | Posted by: Dick Hill - Aurora, TX - Friend

PCYC Fleet Chaplain,  Pass Christian, MS ,1982-2002 “"Ben" and I were friends when stationed at Eglin AFB, and both Lay Readers at St. Simons, Ft. Walton. We struggled and prayed together over whether...Read More »
4 of 39 | Posted by: William R. Buice - Pensacola

“My dad, The Rev. Johnson H Pace, Jr was friends with your parents in Fort Walton Beach, Florida prior to your dad's going to seminary. Our fathers...Read More »
5 of 39 | Posted by: Nancy Pace Ford - Jacksonville, FL

“Dear Beloved Benitez Family, We send our prayers for strength and courage to deal with your great loss. Bishop Ben was Canon Ben to us! When he...Read More »
6 of 39 | Posted by: Cathy Corey - Jacksonville, FL

“Dear Benitez family, I am mourning the loss of your wonderful father, and remembering the years that you all were here with us in Ocala. You lived...Read More »
7 of 39 | Posted by: Rosemary Greene - Ocala,Florida

“Dear Jennifer, Leslie and Deborah,I was so sorry to hear about your Dad's passing and I believe you lost your mother last year. He was a great man. I...Read More »
8 of 39 | Posted by: Peter Fairchild - AZ - Friend

“Ben was an amazing man of God. I had the good fortune to belong to Christ Church in San Antonio during my formative years, and to be married by him...Read More »
9 of 39 | Posted by: Lynn and John Russell - Houston, TX

“Dear Deborah, Deepest sympathy to you and your family in the loss of your father. Yet what comfort in knowing that he is now resting in the arms of...Read More »
10 of 39 | Posted by: Mary Jo Rekedal, Gladys' daughter at Arden Courts - TX

“To the three daughters of Bishop Benitez I remember your father so very well. What a great Priest he was at Grace Episcopal Church in Ocala, Florida...Read More »
11 of 39 | Posted by: Cynthia Fairchild - Ocala, FL

“Jennifer, Leslie, and Deborah, I remember all of you. God Bless.I'm so very sorry to hear of your dad's passing. Father Ben taught us to sing at...Read More »
12 of 39 | Posted by: Syd Peppard Sikes - Orlando, FL

“I attended and voted, as did our church delegates, for Bishop Benitez when he was elected Bishop. We always considered him a friend and supporter of...Read More »
13 of 39 | Posted by: C. Bruce Stratton - Liberty, TX

“Fr Ben became an indelible part of the history of Grace Church and Ocala. He was not only my rector but a close personal friend and we stayed in...Read More »
14 of 39 | Posted by: A friend

“What a blessing it has been for our family to have known Bishop Ben and to have two of our three kids confirmed by him. We have had the privilege of...Read More »
15 of 39 | Posted by: Kym Hall - Austin, TX - Friend

“Ben spent a summer in the Diocese of Florida's Seminarian Community Orientation Program [SCOP] developed and led by my father [Robert Sr.]. Many good...Read More »
16 of 39 | Posted by: The Rev. Robert J. McCloskey, Jr. - NC


17 of 39 | Posted by: Tom & Kay Moses - Albuquerque, NM

“It was certainly an honor and a privilege to serve our kind and loving Ben at Arden Courts and to know his caring daughters. Dearest Ben, we will...Read More »
18 of 39 | Posted by: Renee Voss - Austin, TX - Friend

“As a long-time friend and mentor, Ben often called me to just encourage me and let me know he was praying. When I was rector of Christ Church (San...Read More »
19 of 39 | Posted by: Chuck Collins - San Antonio, TX

“My condolences to the bereaved family of Mr. Benitez. May you be comforted by reflecting on the many wonderful memories that you can cherish forever. ”
20 of 39 | Posted by: A friend

“You are all in our thoughts and prayers. We loved Ben so much and we have been remembering and pondering how much he meant to our spiritual lives....Read More »
21 of 39 | Posted by: A friend

“May Our Heavenly Father grant peace. Philippians 4:7 ”
22 of 39 | Posted by: A friend

“Bishop Benitez welcomed me into the Diocese of Texas when I returned from three years work as a missionary in Paraguay. He placed me as an assistant...Read More »
23 of 39 | Posted by: Mark Crawford - Friendswood, TX

“Ben's Christian goodness shown in him. He will be remembered always by us as what a true man of God should be like. Caroline & Frank ”
24 of 39 | Posted by: Caroline & Frank Vaden - Okatie, SC

“Bishop Benitez brought Bishop Desmond Tutu to Houston to speak. We filled the U. of H. basketball arena for his very moving testimony about the evils...Read More »
25 of 39 | Posted by: Willeva Weems - Houston, TX


26 of 39 | Posted by: Wendy - alvin, TX

“Ben was a wonderful man and a great friend. We will miss him. ”
27 of 39 | Posted by: Richard Nelson

“A great champion of the faith and a pioneer! He encouraged me as a young Priest and was a great example. Great is his reward! ”
28 of 39 | Posted by: The Rev. Mike Michie - McKinney, TX

“Ben and I were stationed together as young fighter pilots in Germany in 1950-51. He and Joanne were very good friends and served as stand-in...Read More »
29 of 39 | Posted by: Col. Morton C. Mumma III, USAF (ret) - VA

“+Ben was a great bishop, pastor and friend to me. He gave me opportunities that stretched me. His love when my mother died in 1986 lasts with me....Read More »
30 of 39 | Posted by: Jim Liberatore - Pearland, TX

“I well remember retreats lead by Bishop Benitez. The things he said in those times helped lead me into the new life I now live. I am so grateful...Read More »
31 of 39 | Posted by: Susan Kelberlau - Austin, TX

“I'm an Anglican priest today because of Bp. Benitez and men like him who modeled a manly Faith to a young searcher. Stars in your crown, father...Read More »
32 of 39 | Posted by: The Venerable CB "Chip" Harper - TX

“Bp. Benitez was a great friend of the Alard family. He was kind, a true visionary and most of all his love for his wife was a testament of the man...Read More »
33 of 39 | Posted by: Aida Alard - Houston,, TX

“Bishop Benitez was very influential in the early 1980s when my wife and I became involved in the Episcopal Renewal ministry through a conference in...Read More »
34 of 39 | Posted by: Harry Denman - Tulsa, OK - Friend

“I was born again the moment Bishop Benitez laid hands on me when my wife and I were being received and reaffirmed, respectively, into the Episcopal...Read More »
35 of 39 | Posted by: Dan Britton - Burnet, TX

“Among his many blessings to the church, Bishop Benitez's belief, interest, and influence in the Cursillo movement in the church and the growth of...Read More »
36 of 39 | Posted by: Patsy Thomson - LaPorte, TX

“I am grateful to God for the life of Bishop Benitez. He was very supportive and encouraging to us in 1982 when God called us into the mission field...Read More »
37 of 39 | Posted by: The Rev. Bill and Cherry Laucher - TX

“Bishop Benitez was a prince of a fellow, and obviously God's special servant in the right places at the right times tackling all kinds of challenges...Read More »
38 of 39 | Posted by: Holly and Jonathan Decherd - TX

“My first Rector and neighbor, wish we had more of him, rest in peace and my prayers to the family. ”
39 of 39 | Posted by: Hon. Douglas Zwiener - member of St. Peter's Episcopal Church Br - TX


The Right Reverend Maurice M. Benitez, D.D., sixth Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas, entered the nearer presence of God on February 27, 2014 in Austin, Texas. He was 86.

Bishop Benitez was born in Washington, D.C. on January 23, 1928, the son of Colonel Enrique M. Benitez (US Army) and Blossom Compton Benitez. He was predeceased by his beloved wife of 63 years, Joanne Dossett Benitez, and by his brother Henry Compton Benitez, who was killed in action while serving as a pilot in World War II, and by his sister Babs Benitez Faber. He is survived by his three daughters Jennifer Benitez Shand, Leslie Anne Benitez, and Deborah Benitez Smith, by his grandsons Ben Shand, Peter Shand, Isaac Young, Evan Young, Taylor Smith, and Charlie Smith, and by his sons in law, the Reverend William M. Shand, III and Dr. James L. Smith, Jr.

Known to all as "Ben," Bishop Benitez attended schools on Army posts where his father was stationed, including bases in Virginia, Kansas, and the Panama Canal Zone. Following his secondary education at Miami Beach High School and Columbian Preparatory School in Washington, D.C., he entered the U. S. Military Academy, graduating from West Point in 1949 – one of two West Point graduates who became Episcopal bishops. His years at West Point helped to shape his character, and he remained loyal to the ideals of the Long Gray Line throughout his life. Following his commissioning in the U. S. Air Force, he completed flight training in Texas, where he and Joanne met and were married. In 1950 they were stationed at Williams Air Force Base, Chandler, Arizona where Ben received his training to fly jet fighters. Next, they moved to Munich, Germany where he served in the 527th Fighter-Bomber Squadron for three years during the tense days of the Cold War. He spent his final two years in the service as a test pilot at the Air Force Proving Ground Command, Eglin Air Force Base, Fort Walton, Florida. Along with friends and colleagues, he considered himself a "fighter pilot at heart" the rest of his life.

In 1955 Bishop Benitez enrolled in St Luke's School of Theology at the University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee to study for Holy Orders in the Episcopal Church. He was ordained in the Diocese of Florida in 1958 and assigned to St James Episcopal Church, Lake City, Florida. For two years (1961-62) he served as Canon Pastor of St John's Cathedral, Jacksonville, Florida, before being called as Rector of Grace Church, Ocala, Florida.

His years in Ocala were challenging ones in the life of the Church. The tensions of the civil rights movement caused Bishop Benitez to receive threats and hate messages as he stood up boldly against segregation. His parish school was the first in the area to be integrated, a step taken well before the public school system did the same. Still, he was held in such wide respect that when the public system's teachers later went on strike, he was asked by both sides to act as mediator of the dispute.

In 1968 he was called as Rector to Christ Church, San Antonio. There he introduced the exciting renewal program "Faith Alive!", which soon spread successfully throughout Texas and beyond. During his time there, he was elected to serve first on the Board of Trustees and then the Board of Regents of The University of the South, Sewanee, TN. He was called to the Church of St John the Divine in Houston in 1974, where he continued to implement popular forms of Christian renewal and evangelism. He served as chair of the diocesan programs of Christian Stewardship in both the Diocese of Texas and West Texas. Both dioceses elected him several terms as clerical deputy (representative) to the Episcopal Church's General Convention.

He was elected sixth Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas, and was consecrated on September 13, 1980 in Houston. For fifteen years he loved the privilege and responsibility of leading one of the strongest dioceses in the nation. One of his greatest joys was to continue the long example by which Texas presented more people of all ages for confirmation than any other diocese in the Episcopal Church. His first years as bishop coincided with the massive national capital campaign known as Venture in Mission in which the Episcopal Church raised funds for missionary efforts at home and abroad. The Diocese of Texas led all dioceses in total funds raised.

Bishop Benitez served on the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church, and for 12 years on the board of the Church Pension Fund. As diocesan bishop, his priority was the ministry of the congregations of his diocese. Visiting the churches throughout the 57 counties of the diocese his most characteristic question of the clergy was, "What can I do in my job that will help you in yours?" His greatest delight was the establishment of new congregations. In 1980, the diocese had no Hispanic congregations; when he retired in 1995 it included seven Hispanic congregations, and El Buen Samaritano Mission in Austin. As Bishop of Texas, he served as the chairman of the Board of The Episcopal Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, and led the effort to increase funding, enrollment, and support from other dioceses in the southwestern United States.

As Bishop of Texas he also was chairman of the Board of Directors of St Luke's Episcopal Hospital in Houston and provided leadership during a period of remarkable development and growth for the Hospital and Texas Heart Institute. Yet it was his dedicated, energetic leadership of the founding of the Episcopal High School in Houston that marked one of the proudest chapters in his episcopate. Over a twelve year period, more than $43 million was raised to provide for the purchase of land, the renovation and construction of the campus, and expansion of all aspects of school life. The chapel at the school is named in honor of Bishop and Mrs. Benitez.

Throughout their years together in the

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