Four priests named monsignors; high honor for Msgr. Beebe

Pope Benedict XVI has honored four priests of the Diocese of Peoria by appointing them “Chaplains to His Holiness” with the title of monsignor.

In addition, the pope has also appointed Msgr. Charles Beebe, 67, episcopal vicar for the permanent diaconate, to the rank of Protonotary Apostolic, the top level of monsignor and considered the highest honor that can be given a diocesan priest. Msgr. Beebe is also pastor of St. Joseph’s Parish in Roanoke and St. John’s, Benson.

Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, informed the new monsignors of the papal honors on Tuesday morning, Oct. 18, at the Spalding Pastoral Center in Peoria. The new monsignors are:

— Msgr. Brian K. Brownsey, 48, diocesan director of vocations, pastor of St. Mark’s Parish, Peoria, and chaplain/director of St. Joseph’s Newman Center at Bradley University in Peoria;

— Msgr. Philip D. Halfacre, 47, pastor of St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Streator and vicar of the Ottawa vicariate. Msgr. Halfacre also teaches part-time at Marquette Academy in Ottawa;

— Msgr. James E. Kruse, 41, vicar general of the Diocese of Peoria, adjutant judicial vicar of the diocesan tribunal, and pastor of St. Monica’s Parish in East Peoria, and

— Msgr. Timothy Nolan, 54, pastor of St. Joseph’s Parish in Pekin and vicar of the Pekin vicariate. Msgr. Nolan will succeed Msgr. Beebe as episcopal vicar for the permanent diaconate next spring.

The date for investiture ceremonies for the new monsignors has yet to be announced. They were actually granted their designations at the Vatican on Sept. 8, but the official documents only recently arrived in Peoria.

The three ranks of monsignor, which is an honorary title, are Chaplains to His Holiness, Prelate of Honor, and Protonotary Apostolic. The titles were once reserved for clerics who worked in the papal household or the Roman Curia.

The highest of the titles is Protonotary Apostolic. For Vatican notaries, it reflects the authority to certify papal documents, although the title may be given to honor clergy serving elsewhere.

While all papal honors reflect positively on the entire diocese, the elevation of Msgr. Beebe to the rank of Protonotary Apostolic represents a particular recognition. The honor, rarely granted, is one the Diocese of Peoria has seen with unusual frequency in recent years.

The title was granted to Msgr. Paul Showalter, PA, vicar general, in 2009; to Msgr. Albert Hallin, PA, vicar of the Champaign vicariate and pastor of St. Boniface Parish in Seymour and St. Joseph’s, Ivesdale, in 2007; and to Msgr. Raymond Boyle, PA, pastor of St. Patrick’s Parish in Seneca and former vicar of the Ottawa vicariate, in 2006. Two now deceased priests, Msgr. Paul Hettinger and Msgr. C. B. Motsett, were granted the honor in 2003.

The only other living priest in the diocese with the title of Protonotary Apostolic is Msgr. Edward Duncan, PA, chaplain emeritus of St. John’s Catholic Newman Center at the University of Illinois.

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