Papal honors for two diocesan priests Print E-mail
Around the Diocese
Written by Pamela A. Payne, Catholic Herald Staff   
Thursday, May. 07, 2009 -- 12:00 AM
  Msgr. Delbert Schmelzer Msgr. Wilfred Schuster
 Msgr. Delbert L. SchmelzerMsgr. Wilfred J. Schuster

MADISON -- Bishop Robert C. Morlino has announced that Pope Benedict XVI has recognized the gifts of the priests and people of the Diocese of Madison by conferring papal honors on two Madison diocesan priests.

Msgr. Delbert L. Schmelzer, diocesan director of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith of the Diocese of Madison, has been named a Protonotary Apostolic (Supranumerary), and Msgr. Wilfred Schuster has been named a Prelate of Honor of His Holiness.

“These appointments bring honor on our whole presbyterate and I renew my deep gratitude for all the good that our priests do each day,” Bishop Morlino said.

“As we congratulate these two monsignors, let us keep them in our prayers, and continue to pray for an outpouring of grace on all the priests of our diocese. And let us pray that more young men will respond to the call of the Lord to enter into lives of priestly service,” Bishop Morlino continued.

“As honorary members of the papal household, Monsignor Schmelzer and Monsignor Schuster are called in a special way to be signs among us of the Universal Church. I am very grateful,” Bishop Morlino said, “to Pope Benedict for conferring these honors, which extend of course, to our whole presbyterate and to all in the diocese.”

The bishop, in announcing the honors, said that the pope, in bestowing the honors on these two priests, is honoring all the people they have served over the years and those who have helped them grow in priestly grace.

Monsignor Schmelzer

Monsignor Schmelzer was previously honored in 1998 with the title Prelate of Honor of His Holiness. By his promotion to this new rank, the Holy Father has bestowed on Monsignor Schmelzer and the diocese a rare honor.

There are fewer Protonotaries Apostolic in the United States than there are bishops, and with the recent death of Msgr. Raymond Klaas, Monsignor Schmelzer is the only Protonotary Apostolic in the Madison Diocese. Monsignor Schmelzer will be honored at St. Andrew Parish, Verona, where he served for over 20 years, at a Mass this summer.

A native of Highland, Monsignor Schmelzer attended the Salvatorian Seminary at St. Nazianz, Wis. He continued his studies in philosophy and theology at St. Francis Seminary, Milwaukee. He was ordained a priest by Bishop William P. O’Connor on May 26, 1956.

He served as parochial vicar of St. Bernard Parish, Madison; St. Luke Parish, Plain; and St. James Parish, Madison. He was pastor at Our Lady of Hope Parish, Shullsburg; St. John Parish, Montello; St. John Vianney Parish, Janesville; and St. Andrew Parish, Verona, from 1981 to 2001, where he retired as pastor emeritus.

Monsignor Schmelzer has worked with the diocesan office of the Society of the Propagation of the Faith and the Holy Childhood Association since 1968 and continues in that role. He is also a member of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem and has been involved in many other Church organizations.

Monsignor Schmelzer is humbled by this great honor bestowed upon him. “It is so special because it is so rare,” he said. “I give endless gratitude to Almighty God for countless blessings during my 53 years of priesthood, “ he commented.

Msgr. Wilfred J. Schuster

Monsignor Schuster was the founding pastor of St. Maria Goretti Parish in Madison. He served there from the parish’s founding in 1959 until his retirement as pastor emeritus in 1996. He will be honored at a Mass at St. Maria Goretti this summer.

A native of Sun Prairie, Monsignor Schuster attended Sacred Hearts Grade School, Sun Prairie, and Edgewood High School, Madison, and studied philosophy and theology at St. Francis Seminary, Milwaukee. He was ordained a priest on June 8, 1946, by Bishop William P. O’Connor.

He has served as parochial vicar at St. James Parish, Madison; and as pastor at St. Rose of Lima Parish, Brodhead; St. Patrick Parish, Albany; and St. Maria Goretti Parish, Madison.

“I am thankful to Bishop Morlino for recognizing me for the honor,” Monsignor Schuster said. “I am also grateful to the many friends and supporters I have had during my priestly service. I am gratified for this recognition after a long term of service.”

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