Benestad named new Secretary for Faith Formation and Evangelization

BRAINTREE -- Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley announced March 23 the appointment of Janet P. Benestad as Cabinet Secretary for Faith Formation and Evangelization in the Archdiocese of Boston. Benestad currently serves as Secretary for Parish Life and Evangelization for the Diocese of Scranton, Penn.

Benestad has served with the Diocese of Scranton, first as Director of Religious Education for five years and since 2005 as Secretary for Parish Life and Evangelization. In that position she supervised the offices for religious education in parishes and schools, youth and young-adult apostolate, ministry to the deaf and persons with disabilities, pro-life/social concerns, family life, ecumenism, campus ministry, Virtus, the diocesan retreat center and the Pastoral Formation Institute, which is the center for adult religious formation. She served over 350,000 Catholics in more than 180 parishes and 29 schools.

Cardinal O’Malley welcomed Benestad and praised her expertise, “as we continue the work of strengthening our local Church for the current generation of Catholics and those who will follow us in the years ahead.”

The Secretary for Faith Formation and Evangelization is responsible for energizing, innovating and coordinating the various ways that the archdiocese passes on the Catholic faith through its parishes, schools and agencies. Benestad will oversee ministries including evangelization, youth and young adults, religious education, campus and health care ministry, marriage ministries, and a number of outreach initiatives. She will report to the Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia, Father Richard M. Erikson.

“Janet is a woman of deep faith who has an inspiring record of accomplishment and expertise,” said Father Erikson.

“Her breadth of experience will be essential in meeting the challenges and responsibilities established for the Office for Faith Formation and Evangelization.”

Benestad is scheduled to begin her service April 13.

A 1969 Magna cum laude graduate of Marymount College in New York City, she earned her Masters in Political Science from Boston College in 1971.

Prior to joining the Diocese of Scranton Benestad taught at the high school and university levels including serving as an adjunct faculty member in the Departments of History, Political Science and Philosophy at the University of Scranton.

She has served on the Education Committee, Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, since 2005 and the Pennsylvania Conference of Catechetical Leaders since 2000 where she served as vice-chairperson from 2005 to 2007. From 1988-1995 she served on the Pennsylvania Commission for Women after being appointed by then Governor Robert P. Casey as a Commissioner.

In 2005, she and her husband J. Brian Benestad published “Human Dignity: The Heart of Catholic Social Teaching,” in ‘‘The Great Life: Essays on Doctrine and Holiness,’’ Michael Aquilina and Kenneth Ogorek, Emmaus Road.