Pope names St. John priest a monsignor Westminster pastor, 47, is youngest in archdiocese with title

March 28, 1996|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

For the second time in its 130-year history, St. John Catholic Church in Westminster has a monsignor for a pastor.

The Rev. Arthur F. Valenzano received the news Tuesday that Pope John Paul II had bestowed the title of monsignor on him and eight other priests in the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

"This is an honor to all the priesthood," said Monsignor Valenzano, 47 and now the youngest monsignor in the archdiocese. "When one is honored, all are honored."

His appointment came as a surprise during a routine meeting with Cardinal William H. Keeler in Baltimore, he said.

"We were all sitting at the same table, when he told us," Monsignor Valenzano said.

In layman's terms, "This is a promotion that calls for more prayer," the new monsignor said.

The title was conferred in 1990 on the late Rev. Joseph C. Antoszewski, Monsignor Valenzano's predecessor at St. John.

With 3,500 families, the Westminster church is one of the largest in the archdiocese.

Monsignor Valenzano regards it as slightly providential that three of the nine new monsignors have ties to his home parish. The Rev. Joseph Luca, pastor at St. Louis in Clarksville, served St. John as a seminarian about 30 years ago. The Rev. George Moeller of St. Joseph, Fullerton, was the parish's interim administrator during the six months after the death of Monsignor Antoszewski, who had led St. John for nearly 20 years until his death in July 1992.

Ordained to the priesthood in 1975, Monsignor Valenzano came to Westminster in 1993 after serving as pastor at St. William of York in West Baltimore and chaplain of the Sparks Retreat House in Baltimore County.

The Rev. Isaac Karoor, associate pastor at St. John since 1990, said the title "acknowledges the difficult task Father Art has in leading a parish of this size. 'Monsignor' recognizes a priest's faithfulness to the church."

Monsignor Valenzano is one of the reasons "people are staying at St. John and the parish is growing," Father Karoor said.

This month, parish leaders unveiled a $3.6 million expansion plan that includes a new church, larger school and extensive renovations.

"He is a man eager to grow in holiness in himself and others," Father Karoor said of the pastor.

Cardinal Keeler will officially elevate the monsignors during services May 26 at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen in Baltimore.

Pub Date: 3/28/96

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