Four new monsignors named; high honor for Msgr. Beebe

By: By Tom Dermody

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 raised Msgr. Charles Beebe, 67, episcopal vicar for the permanent diaconate and pastor of parishes in Roanoke and Benson, to the rank of Protonotary Apostolic. It is the top level of monsignor and considered the highest honor that can be given a diocesan priest. (See related story below.)

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 has a 20-year involvement with Marquette Academy in Ottawa and is president of its pastors’ board.

— 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 last time Pope Benedict XVI named a group of priests in the Diocese of Peoria as monsignors was in 2009.

Following are brief biographies of the new monsignors:

MSGR. BROWNSEY
Ordained in 1996, Msgr. Brownsey is a native of Streator. He has been vocations director since 2003, and is a former rector of St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria.

He also formerly served as diocesan director of Teens Encounter Christ and Cursillo.

Other assignments having included periods as parochial vicar of Sacred Heart, Moline; teaching or chaplaincy stints at Alleman High School, Rock Island, and Marquette High School, Ottawa; and pastor duties at St. Mary’s, Utica and St. Peter’s, Peoria. He was named pastor of St. Mark’s, Peoria, in June and has served at the Newman Center since 2008.

MSGR. HALFACRE
Msgr. Halfacre, a native of Hammond, Ind., was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Peoria in 1991. After a year as parochial vicar of St. Thomas the Apostle, Peoria Heights, he was named pastor of St. Mary’s, Utica, and chaplain at Marquette High School in Ottawa. He served as chaplain for six years, but has remained involved at Marquette for two decades, chairing the department of religion and philosophy, teaching, and serving as president of the pastors’ board.

In 1998, he became pastor of St. Patrick’s in Ottawa, adding administrative duties at St. Mary’s, Ottawa, in 2003. Msgr. Halfacre was named pastor of St. Michael the Archangel in Streator in June.

MSGR. KRUSE
Msgr. Kruse was named by Bishop Jenky to serve as the diocese’s second vicar general — a primary adviser in all administrative aspects of governing the diocese — on March 1, 2011.

Born in Chicago, he was ordained in 1996. He has served as parochial vicar of St. Joseph’s, Pekin and as pastor of the following parishes: St. Patrick’s, Camp Grove and St. Dominic’s, Wyoming; Sacred Heart, Granville, and St. Patrick’s, Hennepin; Holy Cross, Mendota, and Sts. Peter and Paul, Peterstown; St. Teresa’s, Earlville; and St. Monica’s, East Peoria.

A former assistant vocations director and vice chancellor for the diocese and vicar of the LaSalle vicariate, Msgr. Kruse completed studies for a degree in canon law last summer and serves as adjutant vicar general of the diocesan tribunal.

MSGR. NOLAN
Born in Wenona, Msgr. Nolan was ordained in 1992 and has been pastor of St. Joseph’s, Pekin, since 2000. He also formerly served as parochial vicar of the Pekin parish, as well as St. Patrick’s, Urbana.

A former diocesan spiritual director of Cursillo and Teens Encounter Christ, he also served for a year as pastor of Sacre Coeur, Creve Coeur.
In July, Bishop Jenky announced that Msgr. Nolan would succeed Msgr. Beebe as formation director and episcopal vicar of the permanent diaconate on June 1, 2012.

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MSGR. BEEBE ‘SURPRISED, HUMBLED, BLESSED’

“Blindsided.”

That’s how Msgr. Charles Beebe described his surprise on Oct. 18 when he was called up to Bishop Daniel R. Jenky’s office at the Spalding Pastoral Center and told Pope Benedict XVI had granted him the rare title of Protonotary Apostolic.

Even as he approached the bishop’s office, Msgr. Beebe thought the meeting might have something to do with the permanent diaconate, since he saw the person who will succeed him next year in the leadership of that program — Father Tim Nolan — on the fourth floor as well.

Little did he know that Father Nolan, along with three other priests of the diocese, had received their own surprises. The four just learned from the bishop they had been named monsignors.

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.

It was granted to Msgr. Paul Showalter, vicar general, in 2009; to Msgr. Albert Hallin, 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, 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 of the diocese with the title of Protonotary Apostolic is Msgr. Edward Duncan, chaplain emeritus of St. John’s Catholic Newman Center at the University of Illinois.

Msgr. Beebe noted two late priests with the title — Msgr. George Carton and Msgr. James Campbell — were among his mentors as a young priest.

“To be in that company, with men who were giants of this presbyterate, well, it causes me to well up,” said Msgr. Beebe, dabbing moist eyes. “I was surprised and humbled.”

“It was very kind of the bishop to think I should have something like this.”
Born in Passaic, N.J., Msgr. Beebe was ordained in 1970. He told The Catholic Post he has been “very blessed” to have been involved in education throughout his priestly career, including two decades in Catholic high schools and two decades in ministry training with permanent deacons.
He was named episcopal vicar of the permanent diaconate in 1993.

He served on the faculty of Spalding Institute and the Academy of Our Lady in Peoria, and was administrative assistant at those schools as well as Peoria Notre Dame. He was principal of the former Sacre Coeur School in Creve Coeur.

Msgr. Beebe has been parochial vicar of St. Bernard’s, Peoria, and St. Joseph’s, Pekin; pastor of Sacre Coeur, Creve Coeur; St. Jude, Dunlap; St. Philomena’s, Peoria; and has been pastor of St. Joseph’s in Roanoke and St. John’s in Benson since 2003. He is also a former vicar of the Pekin vicariate.

He was named a Prelate of Honor with the title of monsignor in 1993.

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