By Tim Johnson
FORT WAYNE — Parishioners, religious, friends and families filled the pews of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on Dec. 10 in a solemn vespers service to honor seven monsignors and a Notre Dame theology professor who was made a Knight of St. Gregory.
In his homily, Bishop John M. D’Arcy commented that these honors are beautiful and accepted in humility. “They link the presbyterate, that is the college of priests, closer to the Holy Father. And they hold up,” Bishop D’Arcy said, “and bring to the light the work of the particular priests. For example, two of the priests are rectors of our cathedrals.”
Bishop D’Arcy referred to Msgr. Robert Schulte at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne and to Msgr. Michael Heintz at St. Matthew Co-Cathedral in South Bend.
“Both cathedrals are places that went through the dryness period in the use of the sacrament of penance,” Bishop D’Arcy noted. “Remember the words of John Vianney, ‘No pastor can ever accept empty confessionals.’”
The two cathedrals, Bishop D’Arcy said, “are noted for the regular practice of the sacrament of penance and is there anything more central to the mission of Jesus Christ than the forgiveness of sins — for he is our Redeemer — and that forgiveness is exercised through the ministry of the priest.”
The pastors of the two largest parishes in the diocese — Msgr. William Schooler at St. Pius X in Granger and Msgr. John Kuzmich of St. Vincent De Paul in Fort Wayne — were honored. “It isn’t just because they are the two largest parishes in the diocese, it is because of the vitality that has come forth from both pastor and flock,” he said.
“These two parishes both live the spirit of sacrificial stewardship, something so alien to the culture today,” Bishop D’Arcy said, “that large amounts of their resources are given away.”
He said these parishes show vitality through instruction, outreach, evangelization, as well by their sizes. “And so those parishes are honored and held up,” he said.
Also honored was Msgr. Bruce Piechocki of the diocesan Marriage Tribunal, “which defends marriage — defends the permanence of marriage, and that communion of life with love which is marriage,” Bishop D’Arcy said. “It defends marriage’s fidelity. It defends against an alien culture that marriage is one man and one woman, a sacrament forever.
“These are vital things in the church,” Bishop D’Arcy said, “and our great gift that we give to the culture. So the priest responsible for strengthening that life, that respect for marriage, is also honored because of the essential nature of that work.”
Another diocesan office, the Office of Vocation, director Msgr. Bernard Galic was honored for his work, especially through “the particular pain that fell upon our church,” the bishop noted. “The director of our Office of Vocations kept laboring, kept seeking young men who would look on this life as a gift of God, look upon it as a great adventure with Jesus Christ, and learn that for him, for that young man, was the greatest, most beautiful thing he could do for his life.”
Bishop D’Arcy said, “not only should (Msgr. Galic) be held up, but that work should be held up, strengthened and disciplined and made more beautiful.”
Referring to Msgr. Raymond Balzer, Bishop D’Arcy said, “We are always in debt to the priests who are retired, who go out ceaselessly to parishes to help out with confessions or Mass so that the work of Jesus Christ might continue in this difficult time.”
Msgr. Balzer was unable to attend the solemn vespers service, but Bishop D’Arcy noted, “I never met a man who had more of the soul of the priesthood in his heart. He is honored that all retired priests must also be honored.”
Professor John Cavadini, chair of the theology department at the University of Notre Dame, was recently honored as a Knight of St. Gregory, (the pope known as a magnificent reformer of the church) and also named by the pope to the International Theological Commission.
Those are the theologians “closest to the pope,” Bishop D’Arcy said, “who advise him how the church should ponder the great issues of the time and give an answer as faithful to the Gospel but will nourish our faith, hope and love of the men and women of this time.”
Professor John Cavadini was honored at the solemn vespers service Dec. 10. Dr. Cavadini is the chair of the University of Notre Dame Theology Department and was recently named to the Order of the Knights of St. Gregory the Great, which was founded in 1831 and is give for conspicuous service to the church and society.
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