COLUMBIA—Msgr. Richard D. Harris received a papal honor at solemn vespers held Oct. 3 at St. Joseph Church, where he is pastor.
Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone led the service attended by an estimated 500 people.
Pope Benedict XVI named Msgr. Harris a prelate of honor on Aug. 11. He now has the title “Reverend Monsignor.”
In his homily, Bishop Guglielmone asked the congregation to reflect on what it really means when a priest receives the title of “Monsignor.”
“It’s a recognition by the Holy Father that the principles of the Gospel have been lived out in his service to the church,” he said. “… the real measure of who you really are is not the colors you wear. What really counts is your faith.”
The bishop said the honors also were symbolic of the challenge given to every Catholic to work hard to live out the Gospel message daily.
He said the title was both a tribute to the service Msgr. Harris has given to the church already, and an order to continue his ministry.
“The Holy Father is saying I want you now to go forth and do more…let your faith grow even deeper and your ministry ever more effective,” Bishop Guglielmone said. “We should all rejoice because God is present and God is alive in this church, and in the Diocese of Charleston.”
The bishop said his vicar general has a special devotion to Mary, and it was appropriate that this honor came at the beginning of October, which is dedicated to her and to the rosary.
After receiving the honor, Msgr. Harris said the day’s readings and antiphons were appropriate because they dealt with the concept of believers who were “useless servants” because they did only what was expected of them.
“Anyone receiving an honor from the church knows we have done no more than we should have done,” he said. “We are fulfilling our ministry as servants and proclaimers of the Gospel … This is a day of joy not only for me, but for the parish of St. Joseph.”
Members of his family, including his father, sister, and several nieces and nephews attended. He thanked them for all the times they had rearranged special occasions over the years around his busy schedule as a priest.
“How do I feel? I can’t put it into words,” said his sister, Rhonda Mitchell of Aiken. “I’m just very proud of him. We’ve been so blessed by his priesthood.”
Mitchell was happy their father, Leroy Harris, 85, was able to see his son receive the honor.
Mr. Harris told The Miscellany he was very proud of his son.