November 11, 2009 // Local

Seven diocesan priests awarded title of ‘Monsignor’

FORT WAYNE — Bishop John M. D’Arcy has announced that Pope Benedict XVI, has conferred the title of “Chaplain to His Holiness” (“Monsignor”) on the following priests in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend:

Cathedral rectors
• Rev. Robert C. Schulte, rector of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, and vicar general/chancellor of the diocese and moderator of the curia.
• Rev. Michael W. Heintz, Ph.D., rector of St. Matthew Cathedral, South Bend.

Major offices
• Rev. Bruce J. Piechocki, JCL, judicial vicar, director of the marriage tribunal.
• Rev. Bernard J. Galic, director of vocations office.

The same honor has been granted by the Holy Father to the pastors of the two largest parishes in the diocese:
• Rev. John M. Kuzmich, pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Parish, Fort Wayne.
• Rev. William C. Schooler, pastor of St. Pius X Parish, Granger.

Senior priest
The same honor has been given by the Holy Father to one of our retired priests:
• Rev. Raymond J. Balzer, former pastor of St. Patrick Parish, Fort Wayne; Immaculate Conception Parish, Auburn; and St. Rose of Lima Parish, Monroeville. Father Balzer resides at Saint Anne’s Home.

In honoring these seven priests in the Year for Priests, Bishop D’Arcy said, “We receive these honors with gratitude to our Holy Father. In the Year for Priests, the Holy Father has honored our diocese and all priests who serve here.

“Let us pray that through this Year for Priests all our priests will be sanctified and that more young men of good quality will join us in this demanding, but beautiful vocation.”

“Monsignor” is not itself an appointment but a form of address. Properly speaking, one cannot be “made a monsignor” nor can one be “the monsignor of a parish.” It is a title associated with an honorary award. The three awards or offices most often associated with the style “monsignor” are Protonotary Apostolic, Honorary Prelate and Chaplain of His Holiness.

These awards are granted by the pope, usually at the request of the local bishop. In most English-speaking countries, it is not used for bishops, but only for priests who have received certain specific honorary awards or who hold certain offices. The written form of address for a priest-monsignor is: “The Rev. Monsignor (last name),” and the spoken form of address is: “Monsignor (last name).” Monsignor is abbreviated Msgr.

The new monsignors will be honored at a special liturgy in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Fort Wayne, in the near future, Bishop D’Arcy said.

“This honor was totally unexpected. It was a complete surprise,” said Msgr. Piechocki. “Not only do I see it as recognition of the hard work and patient endurance of the entire staff of the marriage tribunal, it also gives testimony to the important role played within the diocese by Our Lady of Good Hope Parish.”

“Bishop D’Arcy has indicated that this honor is as much for the parish as it is for those of us who received the new title. That brings comfort to me,” added Msgr. Schooler.

“I was very surprised, but also humbled,” said Msgr. Heintz. “I figure it’s a greater reflection on the good people I have had the privilege of serving and the other priests with whom I have worked and who have formed me, as these have been influences that have shaped me and made me a better priest.”

“I’m surprised, I didn’t know it was coming,” said Msgr. Schulte. “It’s an honor. A lot of people are commenting about it.”

Growing up at St. Peter’s Parish in Fort Wayne, Msgr. Schulte said he had monsignors, especially Msgr. John A. Bapst, pastor, as a priestly influence.
“It kind of made me feel like a senior priest,” Msgr. Schulte added. “It will take some getting used to. I’ve been ‘Father Bob’ for 34 years.”
And finally, Msgr. Galic said, “I am humbled by the honor and grateful for it.”

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