By K.J. WEBB
OKLAHOMANS AT PAPAL GARDENS: From left are Msgr. Daniel Mueggenborg, Fr. Cory Stanley (Oklahoma City), Fr. Sean Donovan (Tulsa) and Fr. Michael Pratt (Stillwater). The photo was taken in the Papal Gardens at Castel Gandolfo, the pope’s summer residence.
Former Tulsa resident Monsignor Daniel Mueggenborg is currently serving his fourth year of a six-year appointment to the Vatican in Rome, Italy. Mueggenborg, originally from the Okarche-Kingfisher area, attended Oklahoma State University and graduated in 1984. Following graduation he joined the Diocese of Tulsa as a seminarian and studied at St. Meinrad Seminary for one year before being assigned to the North American College in Rome.
Mueggenborg, now 47, was ordained in 1989 and has served in numerous ministries in the area including as Associate Pastor of St. John Church in Bartlesville, Chaplain of Bishop Kelley High School in Tulsa, Chaplain of the St. Philip Neri Newman Church at The University of Tulsa, Pastor of the Church of the Madalene in Tulsa and Pastor of St. Clement of Rome Catholic Church in Bixby. During this time Mueggenborg also served on the St. John Medical Center Ethics Board and as Director of Clergy Education for the Diocese of Tulsa, both positions for 10 years.
When asked about the meaning of his title of “Monsignor” Mueggenborg explains, “The title ‘Monsignor’ is a title of honor. Most Dioceses have up to 10 percent of their priests who will be given this title. It is requested by the local bishop and approved by the Holy See. I don’t know the particular reason why I received this honor since I did not see the petition that was sent to Rome on my behalf. I am grateful to my Bishop for granting me this honor in 2004.”His current appointment came in 2005 when he was invited to join the faculty of the Pontifical North American College in Rome. With his bishop’s permission, he accepted the offer and transferred to the Vatican.
The North American College is the largest seminary for Americans in the world and this year is celebrating its 150th year. Mueggenborg says, “The College is ‘extra-territorial’ property of the Vatican. Thus, we are not part of the 109 acres of Vatican City itself. Rather, we are 11 acres connected to Vatican City and the College is located about 200 yards from St. Peter’s Square.” He adds, “Although I live and work in Vatican City State, we are a distinct minority from the offices of the Vatican and Holy See.
”Mueggenborg’s current position is Vice Rector for Administration of the College. He is responsible for the College’s two Rome campuses, management of the College’s fiscal operations and supervision of the personnel. “Our two campuses provide space for our seminary program of 220 students, our graduate house program of 80 priests, a sabbatical program of 35 priests each semester, and the U.S. Bishop’s Office for Visitors to the Vatican which provides Americans with tickets to papal events. Therefore, my current job is really full-time administration. I also, however, have the responsibility for overseeing the formation of 20 seminarians in addition to my administrative responsibilities.
”Twice annually, Mueggenborg accompanies new students to a Papal audience and says that he usually attends Papal Masses during the course of the year. When asked if he has met the Pope, he replies, “I have not personally met the current Pope but hope to do so before my assignment ends in June 2011. Because the College is located so close to St. Peter’s Basilica, I hear the Pope every time he gives an outdoor audience or celebrates an outdoor Mass. We really are neighbors!”He mentions some particularly memorable times over the past four years. “I very much enjoyed the years when Ambassador Francis Rooney and his wife Kathleen were in Rome.
It gave me an opportunity to meet many of the Tulsans who came to Rome at that time. I’ve also been blessed to be able to connect with extended family members in Germany. Weekend trips to visit my cousins have offered me a home away from home.” He adds, “I have also enjoyed being part of a historic moment in the life of the College. We recently completed a $28 million capital campaign and much of my work these past few years has been to carry out the building and restoration projects associated with the campaign. The College is my alma mater and I have been honored to play an integral part of her renewal.”
Mueggenborg has truly enjoyed his experience in Rome, pointing out how inspirational it is to work with seminarians in today’s world. “They are a very prayerful, charitable, and serious group of men and it is edifying to accompany them on their final four years of preparation to priesthood.”
He adds, “Religiously, it has been a very personally rewarding assignment because of the 2,000 year history of living faith and witness in western Europe. Everywhere we go, we learn about the saints and martyrs who lived in the areas we visit. It is inspirational to say the least.”For more information about the Pontifical North American College in Rome, visit www.pnac.org.