A funeral Mass was offered April 21 at St. Mary's Church, Oneonta, for Rev. Joseph Benintende, who died April 15. He was 72 and had been a priest for 46 years and a priest of the Albany Diocese for 30.

A native of Brooklyn, he served in many positions for the Josephite order -- teaching, working in school administration and ministering as an associate pastor, pastor and spiritual director -- before coming to the Albany Diocese.

Here, he served as parochial vicar of St. Francis de Sales parish in Loudonville and St. Mary's in Oneonta; as pastor of St. Anthony's in Herkimer and Annunciation in Ilion; and then again as pastor of St. Mary's in Oneonta from 2004 until his retirement in 2012.

Diocesan officials remembered Father Benintende as "always willing to serve the wider community." He served on councils that minister to priests; on the diocesan Peace and Justice Commission; on boards for Catholic Charities, the American Red Cross, the American Cancer Society and Herkimer Hospice; he directed the local Cursillo Movement, ministered to the Marriage Encounter community and taught Scripture in popular adult faith formation classes. Family described his "eloquent gift" of public speaking and comforting people.

That goes right along with two remarks the priest himself made:

•  After visiting Guatemala on a mission trip in 2007, he noted, "The group leader said something that has stayed with me: 'The most important thing that you can give [is something] you have already given us: You have come here and acknowledged that we exist.'"

•  Coming back to St. Mary's parish in Oneonta for a second stint as pastor, he was touched to see his own name still on the parish banner that listed all parishioners' names, telling The Evangelist: "It was kind of like a welcoming home. I had a connection with these people."

Father Benintende had the gift of acknowledging people. All who had a connection with him are mourning his loss and acknowledging that his presence will be missed.

Survivors include siblings Charles of Woodbury, N.J.; Michael of Summerfield, Fla; Marie Roenelt of Stockholm, N.J.; and Izzy Caratelli of Bainbridge, N.Y. Interment was in Walton Cemetery, Walton.