Deacon Jim Pittman, Msgr. Don Buxman, Archbishop John G. Vlazny and Tood Cooper at Msgr. Buxman's award Mass.
Western Oregon's three new monsignors were given their papal honors at fitting venues — where they work.
Msgr. Joseph Betschart received his diploma before a day of classes at Mount Angel Seminary, where he is new president-rector. Msgr. Patrick Brennan was honored during Mass at St. Mary Cathedral, where he is pastor. Msgr. Don Buxman, vicar for clergy of the archdiocese, got the title during liturgy at St. Rita Parish in Northeast Portland, where he is priest moderator.
Archbishop John G. Vlazny presented the honors to all three men on various days in January. Officially, the three have become Chaplains to His Holiness, an honor linking them to Pope Benedict. As the men received diplomas from the Vatican written in Latin and small plaques, the archbishop reminded them, "May these objects remind you that you are called to serve rather than be served."
During a morning Mass at Mount Angel Abbey, Msgr. Betschart said the papal honor signifies support for Oregon's Catholic seminary.
The archbishop lauded Msgr. Betschart for "his great priestly heart and willingness to lead Mount Angel Seminary."
In the case of Msgr. Betschart, who is 47, the papal honor is more of an encouragement than a thanks for a job well done, the archbishop said.
"It is a real honor to be named a monsignor, but I hope it is seen not only as an honor conferred on me, but also as an acknowledgment of the good found in our presbyterate," Msgr. Buxman said. The longtime pastor has been a priest for 44 years.
Archbishop Vlazny told the congregation at St. Rita that the day was not the most important in Msgr. Buxman's life. Instead, it was the day of baptism, "the day he became a child of God, a member of this church, a disciple in mission with all of you."
The congregation applauded as the tall new monsignor held his diploma and smiled, a large Christmas star decoration hanging behind him.
Msgr. Brennan thanked Pope Benedict and Archbishop Vlazny for the honor and told a packed crowd at St. Mary Cathedral he hoped he could contain his emotions.
The humble priest was very thankful, but admitted that the flash drive in his brain that stores praise is now "full."
The priest had supporters from Mount Angel Abbey in attendance, where he attended seminary and later served as president-rector.
"We are so happy for him," said Marilyn Flanagan, a member of St. Rita Parish. "He's so deserving of this and is really such a gracious and generous man. He has given us a lot of strength over the years."