Msgr. Bennie Patillo, beloved pastor and friend, died on April 5, 2017, at his home in Port Neches. He was 80.
“The Diocese was truly blessed that God called Bennie to bring the Living Christ to people in word, in sacramentals and with his own God-given gifts of compassion, kindness, gentleness and humor,” said Bishop Curtis Guillory, SVD. “He could diffuse a tense situation with his humor.
“He brought that compassion, kindness and gentleness to the people whom he served,” Bishop Guillory continued. “Those are the qualities of the Good Priest which he shared through his ministry.”
Bishop Guillory will celebrate a Mass of Christian Burial at 10 a.m. Monday, April 10, at St. Elizabeth Church, 2004 Nall St., Port Neches. On Saturday, April 8, visitation will be 6-9 p.m. at St. Elizabeth with a Rosary led by the Knights of Columbus at 6. On Sunday, April 9, a visitation will be held at St. Anthony Cathedral Basilica, Beaumont. Msgr. Ken Greig, who was ordained at the same time as Father Bennie, will celebrate a vigil service at 6 p.m. (A full listing of the services is at the end.)
During his almost half century of priestly ministry, Father Bennie served in a number of parishes in Southeast Texas including rector of St. Anthony Cathedral Basilica, Beaumont. He was also chancellor and vicar general of the diocese and served as superintendent of schools. He retired as pastor of St. Elizabeth, Port Neches, in 2014.
A native of Port Arthur, Bennie Patillo was a convert to Catholicism. Two years later, in 1959, he entered St. Mary Seminary, Houston. Bishop Vincent Harris ordained him to the priesthood May 25, 1967, one of the first four that were ordained for the newly established Diocese of Beaumont.
Bennie J. Patillo was born Aug. 15, 1936, to Joe and Edna Patillo, in Port Arthur. He received a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Lamar State College of Technology, Beaumont, in 1958, and a Master’s of Education from Loyola University, Chicago, in 1971. Young Bennie was employed at St. Mary Hospital, Port Arthur, while a pre-med student. There he developed a close friendship with the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word. This friendship led Bennie, at age 19, and his mother, Edna, to take instructions and become Catholics.
After completing his studies at Lamar State College, he taught at Thomas Edison Junior High School in Port Arthur before entering the seminary in 1959. He attended St. Mary Seminary, Houston, and was ordained a priest in 1967.
His first assignment was as an associate pastor at St. Pius X Parish, Beaumont. He later served as an associate at St. Mary, Orange, where he also he taught high school religion for two years. He became a full-time counselor at Msgr. Kelly Catholic High School, Beaumont, in 1969, and held the same position at Bishop Byrne High School in Port Arthur. In the years that followed, he served many parishes including St. James and St. Joseph, Port Arthur, and Immaculate Conception, Groves. Father Bennie was named pastor of Our Lady of the Pines Parish, Woodville, on June 15, 1973. He went to St. Peter the Apostle, Groves, as administrator May 1977 and was named pastor June 1, 1978.
He was named Assistant Superintendent of Schools for the Diocese of Beaumont in 1977 and served as Superintendent for five years after being appointed to that position in 1978.
In 1985 Father Bennie was appointed Chancellor of the Diocese of Beaumont and Rector of St. Anthony Cathedral. He served in these ministries for 12 years. While he was at St. Anthony he oversaw the construction of the cathedral center, parish offices and chapel.
He was appointed pastor of St. Elizabeth, Port Neches, in 1995, and named Pro Vicar General of the diocese.
In 2009, Father Bennie was appointed a Prelate of Honor by Pope Benedict XVI, with the title of Monsignor. Father Bennie retired as pastor on October 31, 2014, and was given the honorary title of Pastor Emeritus by Bishop Curtis J. Guillory, SVD.
He is survived by one cousin in Louisiana and a cousin in Port Arthur. In lieu of flowers Father Bennie asked that donations be made to St. Elizabeth youth ministry.
Saturday, April 8
Visitation at St. Elizabeth Church, Port Neches, 6-9 p.m., Rosary led by the Knights of Columbus at 6 p.m.
Sunday, April 9, 2017
Visitation at St. Anthony Cathedral Basilica, Beaumont, 4-9 p.m.
Reception of the body at 4 p.m. by Bishop Guillory.
Vigil Service 6 p.m. celebrated by Msgr. Kenneth Greig, Pastor Emeritus of St. Peter the Apostle and Immaculate Conception, Groves
Monday, April 10, 2017
Reception of the body at the church at 8 a.m., by Father Shane Baxter, Pastor, Vicar General
Visitation at St. Elizabeth, Port Neches, 8-9:30 a.m.
Daily Mass in the church at 8:30 a.m. celebrated by Father Baxter, followed at 9:30 with closing of the casket
10 a.m., Mass of Christian Burial celebrated by Bishop Guillory with concelebrating priests.
Burial to follow at Greenlawn Cemetery, Groves.