Pope Honours Local Priest

Catholic priest Brian Walsh, of the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit on Palmerston North’s Broadway Ave and chaplain to the local Marist Sports Club, has recently been named a Monsignor by Pope Francis.

The title Monsignor refers to a priest who has been honoured by the Pope for his outstanding services to the Church and society.

When a Bishop believes that one of the priests in his area should be honoured for his exceptional service to the church, he can nominate that priest for the title of Monsignor. The Pope reviews the nomination and makes the final decision. If the title is granted, the nominee then receives a formal parchment from the Vatican.

With his new title, Monsignor Brian is officially part of the Papal Household or whānau.

Charles Drennan, Bishop of Palmerston North, said that while this has little impact when living so far away from Rome, it does mean that if Monsignor Brian is ever in Rome he would be expected to support the Pope through his participation in Papal ceremonies at St Peter’s.

“I decided to nominate Monsignor Brian because of his mana within both the Church and civic community, his great generosity of spirit, and his wise down-to-earth counsel to so many including myself,” Bishop Charles said.

“Monsignor Brian has a great sense of humour and is a tough competitor on the golf course.”

Monsignor Brian said, “If I was asked about this before the application was put in, I would have said no; but it’s an honour for the Catholic community I serve as much as it is for me”.

Others have been direct in their praise of the man.  Tony Murphy, Manager of the Diocese of Palmerston North, said, “This is a truly deserved recognition for a good Kiwi bloke, whose outstanding commitment and leadership shows in his care of those within the Church and the wider community.”

Steph Grantham, who works with Monsignor Brian at the Cathedral, said that many people have contacted the Parish Team offering congratulations and messages of support.

“Everyone is just so pleased and excited that he and his work have been acknowledged in this way,” she said.

The Marist Sports Club is delighted with the news that they share a Chaplain with the Pope.

Paul O’Brien, well-known local businessman and Marist Sports executive director, said “I and all of us at Marist are delighted to hear that Brian has been recognised in this way for his extraordinary good work.”

In 2014, Pope Francis made it harder for priests to be granted the title, due to concerns that it might lead to careerism within the Catholic Church.

This makes his appointment of Monsignor Brian all the more noteworthy.

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