MARQUETTE - Detroit Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron recently announced that Pope Benedict XVI has conferred the title of "Monsignor" upon eight Detroit-area priests, including Rev. Ronald T. Browne, who is currently serving as Moderator of the Curia and Director of Ministry Personnel in the Catholic Diocese of Marquette.
A prayer service to mark this occasion is being held at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit today. A reception will follow the service.
The honorary title of "Monsignor" is given to Roman Catholic priests as a sign of appreciation and recognition of the service they have rendered, both locally and in the world. There are three ranks of monsignors. The newly-named monsignors are designated at the first rank of "Chaplain to His Holiness."
Rev. Ronald Browne
Archbishop Vigneron personally conveyed the news to Bishop Alexander Sample of Marquette and asked him to inform Monsignor Browne. Besides working together in the diocesan office building, Bishop Sample and Monsignor Browne are good friends, having gone to school together in Rome.
"It made it very special to be informed of this honor by Bishop Sample, when it is a friend that is rejoicing in this reception of this special designation from the pope," said Monsignor Browne. "It still is difficult for me to fully accept that this honor has been bestowed on me. When people call me 'Monsignor,' I look around to see what old priest is in the room, and I realize I am the old priest now!"
The 56-year-old monsignor, who was born and raised in the northwest part of Detroit, was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Detroit in June 1991. Monsignor Browne holds a civil law degree, once practiced law in Menominee, and obtained a licentiate in canon law at the Angelicum in Rome in 1997.
He has taught at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, served in the Detroit ArchdiocesanTribunal and assisted Cardinal Adam Maida, Archbishop Emeritus of Detroit, in many ways with his canonical and civil law expertise.
Monsignor Browne was released by the Archdiocese of Detroit for temporary service in the Diocese of Marquette in 2009 and will return to the Archdiocese in July.
"Monsignor Browne has been of invaluable service to me, the clergy and the faithful of the diocese," noted Bishop Sample. "As his time of service with us draws to a close later this year, we will miss him terribly. I am so happy and proud for him that, before he returns to ministry in the Archdiocese of Detroit, the Holy Father has seen fit to honor his service to the Church in this way."
Including those newly-named, 34 of the Archdiocese of Detroit's 400-plus active and retired diocesan priests hold the title of "Monsignor." In the Diocese of Marquette, four of the 70-plus active and retired diocesan priests hold that title.
"The eight priests honored by Pope Benedict XVI have given the Church many years of faithful service in fulfilling a variety of pastoral responsibilities," said Archbishop Vigneron. "In that, they represent the whole Detroit presbyterate. This recognition honors all of our priests for their generous self-sacrifice in working in communion with the Holy Father and the College of Bishops to share Christ with those to whom they have been sent."