Bishop Benedict D. Coscia, O.F.M., a native New Yorker and bishop emeritus of Jataí, Goiás, Brazil, died April 30 in Goiania, Brazil, where he was living in retirement. He was 85.
Named Bishop of Jataí in the state of Goiás in 1961, he served until his retirement in 1999. He continued his pastoral work afterward. A Franciscan of Holy Name Province, which is based in Manhattan, he volunteered for the province mission in Goiás immediately after his priestly ordination in 1949 and had served there since 1950.
Born in Brooklyn, he was baptized at Our Lady Help of Christians Church on Staten Island. He graduated from Immaculata High School in Manhattan and attended St. Francis College in Brooklyn for two years before entering St. Joseph Seraphic Seminary in Callicoon in 1941.
He also studied at friaries in Croghan and New Jersey, and at Holy Name College in Washington, D.C.
He was given the religious name of Dominic, but after going to Brazil he changed it to Benedict after St. Benedict the Moor, a Franciscan to whom he was devoted.
In Brazil he was a parochial vicar in Anapolis and a pastor in Pires do Rio before his appointment as bishop at age 38. He was ordained a bishop at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica in Brooklyn in 1961.
He attended all four sessions of the Second Vatican Council and worked to implement its decrees in his diocese, which is more than three times as large as New Jersey. He recruited religious congregations of men and women to serve there and pioneered the establishment of the permanent diaconate in the diocese.
He held an honorary doctor of laws degree from St. Francis College.
A Funeral Mass was offered May 2 at the Cathedral of Divino Espirito Santo (Holy Spirit Cathedral), which he built. Burial was in the cathedral crypt.
A Memorial Mass will be celebrated at St. Bonaventure Church, 174 Ramsey St., Paterson, N.J., in New York Saturday, May 17, at 10 a.m.