Lincoln Priest Recognized for 40 Years of Priesthood

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LINCOLN, Neb. -- It's more than parchment paper and colorful ink that makes a papal blessing so special to Monsignor Liam Barr.

To get one, the Bishop must send a letter of recognition to Rome, and on the case of Monsignor Barr, it was his council members who helped him receive acknowledgment from the Pope.

"First of all I'm absolutely and very honored and delighted by it," said the Barr, a priest at Saint Joseph Catholic Church in Lincoln. "It was a total surprise by my parish members. Even as I was opening it, I had no idea."

Close friends and acquaintances of Monsignor Barr gathered to celebrate his 40th year of priesthood and commitment to the Catholic Church Sunday, a day he won't forget.

"To be linked in some little way with our holy father on this great day, and to have my celebration on the same day as two great saints really is special," said Monsignor Barr. "I have such admiration for Pope Francis. Since he's become pope my own priesthood has become invigorating, so to receive this papal blessing from him is marvelous, it really and truly is."

Monsignor Barr was born in Ireland. He came to Lincoln 40 years ago after being ordained in London.

Pilgrims from around the world gathered at the Vatican for Sunday's canonization of Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII. An estimated 1 million people attended what was an unprecedented event for the Catholic Church.