Msgr. Jan Thomas Limchua of the Archdiocese of Cebu with Pope Francis (photo from Msgr. Limchua’s Facebook account)

A Filipino priest serving in the Vatican has received a papal honor.

Pope Francis has conferred the title “Chaplain of His Holiness” to Fr. Jan Thomas Limchua, a recognition that comes with the title “Monsignor”.

Ordained a priest for the Cebu archdiocese in 2010, Limchua is currently serving at the Section for the Relations with States of the Holy See.

Limchua, in a Facebook post, said the “privileged honor” makes him “officially part of the pontifical family”.

“I graciously ask for your continued prayers as I, with my own limitations, commit myself more deeply to serve the Church with joy, humility and generosity,” he said.

Before going to the Vatican in September, he served as secretary of the Apostolic Nunciature in Cairo, Egypt for four years.

The title of monsignor is an honor bestowed by the pope on certain priests in recognition of their service to the Church. It is also usually granted to priests serving in the papal household or the group of dignitaries who directly assist the pope in carrying out religious and civil duties.

Limchua finished his theological studies at the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain. He later earned his Doctorate in Canon Law at the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome. 

The priest also prepared for his entry into the Holy See’s diplomatic service by undergoing diplomatic formation at the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy.

In 2014, he officially started his tour of duty in the Holy See’s diplomatic service, serving at the Apostolic Nunciature in Benin and Togo (West Africa) and most recently in Egypt.

Limchua is the third Cebuano to enter the diplomatic service, the other two are: Archbishop Osvaldo Padilla, Apostolic Nuncio Emeritus to Mongolia, and his younger brother Archbishop Francisco Padilla, the current Apostolic Nuncio to Guatemala.

Soon after his election to the papacy in 2013, Pope Francis reformed the issuance of the honorific title and rank of Monsignor. 

In December of the same year, he made public his decision not to accept any requests from bishops for appointments to any of the three classes of monsignori (Protonotary Apostolic, Honorary Prelate or Chaplain of His Holiness) except for that of Chaplain of His Holiness, the lowest of the three classes, but the candidate must be at least be 65 years old.

Officials of the Roman Curia and the diplomatic service of the Holy See, like Limchua, are still granted the rank and title due to the nature of their work for the Vatican.

Priests who are vicars general of the diocese are addressed as monsignor for their position in the diocese even though the title was not granted to them by the pope. They cease to be called “Monsignor” once they cease to be the vicar general of the diocese.  Rommel F. Lopez