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Bishop Checchio appoints pastor of Immaculate Conception, Annandale

July 12, 2017

METUCHEN – The Most Rev. James F. Checchio today announced that, after prayer and studying the parish consultations from Immaculate Conception Parish, Annandale, he is appointing Rev. Msgr. William Benwell, JCL, as pastor.

Msgr. Benwell, who has served as vicar general and moderator of the curia of the Diocese of Metuchen since 2002, will continue as vicar general, working on a part time basis, while taking on the pastoral care of Immaculate Conception on August 3.

“He will begin transitioning right away so as to canonically cover the parish, while preparing to move on the third of August,” the bishop wrote in an email to diocesan priests and staff. “I am grateful to Monsignor for all he has done to assist me in this past year, and am grateful he will continue to assist with diocesan administration as well.”

As pastor, Msgr. Benwell will oversee Immaculate Conception School, which offers Pre-K to Grade 8 programs to more than 400 enrolled students and in 2013 was awarded the National Blue Ribbon Award for academic excellence.

Msgr. William Benwell, JCL, was born in Plainfield to the late Mary and William Benwell.

After receiving a bachelor’s degree in history in 1976 from Rutgers University, he began studies for the priesthood in Immaculate Conception Seminary, Mahwah. Bishop George W. Ahr ordained Msgr. Benwell to the transitional diaconate May 5, 1979, and Bishop John C. Reiss ordained him a priest in St. Mary Cathedral, Trenton, May 31, 1980.

From June 1980 through October 1984, he served as associate pastor at Our Lady of Victories, Sayreville, and was appointed associate director of vocations and assistant chancellor in 1983. He then was assigned as associate pastor at St. Francis of Assisi Cathedral, Metuchen, while also serving as secretary to Bishop Theodore McCarrick. He studied for his licentiate in canon law (JCL) from 1986 to 1988 at St. Paul University, Ottawa, Canada.

After serving as associate pastor in St. Ann Parish, Raritan from May 1988 to May 1989, when he was also a member of the Tribunal staff, he was appointed pastor of Our Lady of the Mount Parish, Warren. In 1993, Pope John Paul II made Father Benwell a Prelate of Honor to His Holiness and bestowed on him the title of Rev. Monsignor.

Msgr. Benwell served as judicial vicar for the diocese for 12 years, resigning in 2001 when the late Bishop Vincent De Paul Breen appointed him episcopal vicar for Somerset County and vice chancellor. That same year, Msgr. Benwell became chairman of the board of trustees for Catholic Charities, Diocese of Metuchen.

When Bishop Paul G. Bootkoski was installed as the fourth bishop of Metuchen in 2002, he asked Msgr. Benwell to become vicar general and moderator of the curia. He served in this position full time from 2003 until July 2017 when he was appointed by Bishop James F. Checchio as pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish, Annandale, and remained in the chancery as vicar general part time.

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