In one of his last acts as the bishop of Wollongong, Bishop Emeritus Peter Ingham nominated to Pope Francis four priests of the Diocese of Wollongong for the title Prelate of Honour of His Holiness (monsignor) in recognition for their exceptional service to the Church.
I am pleased to announce that Pope Francis reviewed the nominations and has granted the title of monsignor to Frs Bryan Jones, Patrick Faherty, David O’Brien and Graham Schmitzer, with the secretary of state of the Vatican honouring the four monsignors with a formal diploma.
Monsignor is an honorary title, rather than a specific position in the Church hierarchy, so a monsignor does not necessarily have any duties distinct from those of any other priest. However, some positions within the Vatican automatically carry the title of monsignor. Because the title of monsignor historically designated a priest who served in the papal curia, or Vatican bureaucracy, all monsignors are officially part of the papal household, whether they serve in the Vatican or elsewhere. Unlike regular parish priests, they may wear some of the regalia normally reserved for a bishop. The only other monsignor in the Diocese of Wollongong is retired priest, Msgr Paul Ryan.
As part of the nomination process, Bishop Peter provided Pope Francis with a biography of each of the nominees as well as his personal recommendation. As part of his recommendation, Bishop Peter had the following to say:
Msgr Bryan Jones
“Fr Jones is well respected by me and the clergy for his practical wisdom and problem-solving ability. He is a dedicated priest who has served as one of my vicars general for the past 16 years as a diocesan consultor and member of the Council of Priests.”
Msgr Patrick Faherty
“Fr Faherty is well-respected by clergy and laity alike as a very worthy priest. I have used to good effect his pastoral wisdom, dedication and practice to help train seminarians in their pastoral placements.”
Msgr David O’Brien
“Fr O’Brien brings a well-grounded pastoral approach to his ministry. He has cared for the clergy (both ill and well) as the director of Clergy Life and Ministry and was instrumental in the Diocese employing a registered nurse to care for sick and retired clergy which has been of great benefit in supporting the health and wellbeing of all our clergy. Fr O’Brien is a very effective parish priest, deeply appreciated by his people. He has been a diocesan consultor and member of the Council of Priests for the past 16 years.”
Msgr Graham Schmitzer
“Fr Schmitzer is well read and contributes spiritual teaching in the Diocese’s published programs for Advent and Lent that are distributed to a wide audience. He is held in high regard by clergy and laity alike. He has served the Diocese in the capacities of diocesan secretary and tribunal official, chancellor and as a member of the Council of Priests and College of Consultors.”
We are indeed blessed in the Diocese of Wollongong with many dedicated, hard-working clergy, religious and laity, and I take this opportunity to join with Bishop Peter in congratulating these four worthy papal honour recipients.
Most Rev Brian G Mascord DD
Bishop of Wollongong
20 July 2018