After the death of Msgr. Richard Schuler of St. Agnes in St. Paul (MN), and just before my departure to the USA for his funerl, I sent a letter to the Holy Father to inform him about Msgr. Schuler’s demise. It was hand delivered to His Holiness’ private secretary.
His Holiness knew Msgr. Schuler and always asked about him when he encountered people from Minnesota. When I worked in the Holy Office building years ago I always made sure Card. Ratzinger had the annual programs of the Twin Cities Catholic Choral and other news of the music at St. Agnes. He was always happy to hear what was going on.
At the time of Monsignor’s death, the Holy Father was about to head off to Pavia in Northern Italy for a visit to St. Augustine’s tomb, but I had hoped there might be the chance of a papal telegramme by the time of the funeral. Alas no.
Now I find on the website of St. Agnes parish (someone was kind enough to suggest I look at it) that a note from the Pope came.
According to protocol, these letters are sent from the Secretariate of State through the Apostolic Nuncius in Washington, D.C., and then forwarded to the local bishop (who can pass them on if he deems it opportune).
How many parish priests occasion notes of condolence from the Pope?
Here is an excerpt of my letter to the Holy Father:
Most Holy Father,
I am confident Your Holiness remembers Msgr. Richard J. Schuler, of Saint Paul, Minnesota (USA).
Msgr. Schuler died on 20 April after a long illness. He was 86 years old.
May I humbly ask Your Holiness to say a prayer for the repose of Msgr. Schuler’s soul? It would be a consolation.
Msgr. Schuler, a member of the Consociatio Internationalis Musicae Sacrae, was a friend of Your Holiness’ reverend brother.
As pastor of Saint Agnes Church in Saint Paul, Msgr. Schuler built a program of orchestral Masses on more than thirty Sundays of the year with music of the Viennese and other composers. He formed the Twin Cities Catholic Chorale, a Gregorian schola cantorum, an a cappella polyphonic choir, and a choir in the parish school. After his retirement several years ago the choirs are still active.
During the 32 years Msgr. Schuler was pastor, some thirty men from his parish were ordained priests. The parish still successfully fosters vocations.
Thank you, Holy Father, for all you have done and are doing now. Thank you for your beautiful teaching and service. Thank you for remembering Msgr. Schuler.
With filial respect and humble gratitude, in our Savior I am Your Holiness’ devoted son.
Just as I asked the Pope for prayer for Msgr. Schuler, I would ask you also to pray for the repose of his soul.
Here in Rome some folks from St. Agnes will be helping to organize a Requiem Mass, probably in the older, "Tridentine" Rite, for the 30th day from Monsignor’s death. It will probably be on 19 May. Details will follow.