Fr. Benedict M. Taylor, OFM, 88, a professed Franciscan friar for 66 years and a priest for 60, died on January 8 in Yonkers, N.Y.
During his life, Fr. Ben was honored by state, city, and religious organizations for his work on behalf of the poor.
Siena College awarded him an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters in 1979 for his work as the founder of ProjectCreate, an organization that supports the vulnerable in Harlem. He also served on Siena’s Board of Trustees for several years.
During his time with Siena, Fr. Ben helped young men attend and graduate as Saints. He also welcomed interns and volunteers from the College to join him in Harlem to see and learn about the significant challenges confronting those he worked with.
In the early 1960s, Fr. Ben, while at dinner with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., expressed his regret he couldn’t participate with Dr. King in the Civil Rights marches — as the urgency of his work required his persistent presence in Harlem. Dr. King gently responded to Fr. Ben’s lament, affirming his work, “Brother Taylor, not all of us are called to march, the work of peace and justice must also be done within the community, and this is the more lasting and difficult part.” Fr. Ben spent his life serving the people of Harlem and working for social justice.
Fr. Ben lived a Franciscan life; fighting for justice by changing systems, showing and protecting the individual dignity of every individual, and building peace by creating communities that brought together people of different backgrounds and experiences and showing that we are better people, and more authentic Christians, when we live in relationship and work together on behalf of the poor.
For information about the virtual services, please click here.