Pope Francis Names Two Local Priests Monsignors

Bishop Felipe Estévez is pleased to announce that two priests of the Diocese of St. Augustine, Fathers Michael Houle and James Boddie, Jr., have been bestowed with the papal honor of “Chaplain to His Holiness” by Pope Francis and given the title “Monsignor.”

“Monsignor” is a title bestowed on a priest who has distinguished himself by many years of exceptional service to the church. It is an honorary title and does not affect the priest’s duties or ministerial assignment.

“As St. Paul has said, recognition of any good deed of one of our brothers enhances the body of Christ,” said Bishop Felipe Estévez. “This local church is joyful for this recognition by the Holy Father of two exemplary priests who have shown such dedication to God’s people.”

Msgr. Michael Houle is the pastor of St. Paul Parish in Jacksonville Beach and the Episcopal Vicar for Development and Finance for the Diocese of St. Augustine. Msgr. Houle was ordained a priest by Bishop Paul Tanner on this very day (May 19) in 1979 at St. Patrick Parish in Jacksonville, his home parish. Since then, he has served the faithful all over the diocese, including as assistant pastor at Assumption and Holy Family parishes, interim pastor at Mary, Queen of Heaven and Blessed Trinity parishes and pastor of Holy Rosary Parish. For many years, Msgr. Houle assisted the pastors at Our Lady Star of the Sea Parish in Ponte Vedra Beach. He also served as associate pastor at Holy Family Parish in Jacksonville and served as president of Bishop Kenny High School from 1989-2015.

Msgr. Houle attended Holy Rosary Catholic School for grades 1-6. When St. Patrick Catholic School opened, he attended the school for 7th and 8th grades before attending Bishop Kenny High School, where he graduated in 1971.

“This is certainly a great honor, and I am humbled by this announcement. In my 42 years of priesthood, I have had the good fortune to serve the diocese in several capacities and a number of parishes,” said Msgr. Houle. “I’ve had the good fortune to work with Bishops Paul Tanner, John J. Snyder, Victor Galeone and especially Bishop Felipe Estévez during his time as ordinary of the diocese,” he added.

Msgr. James Boddie, Jr. has served in several leadership positions for the diocese and the U.S. Catholic Church, including the pastor of Christ the King Parish in Jacksonville, coordinator of the Priest Personnel Board since 2016, a member of the College of Consultors, membership on the National Advisory Council of Catholic Bishops from 2016-2020, chaplain to the Morning Star School, spiritual advisor of the Diocesan Council of Catholic Women, and director of the Office of Black Catholic Ministry for the diocese.

Msgr. Boddie was ordained by Bishop Paul Tanner on May 28, 1978, at his home parish of St. Pius V in Jacksonville. He is the first African American priest ordained for the Diocese of St. Augustine and the first from any diocese in Florida to enter the seminary.

Msgr. Boddie also served as associate pastor at St. Paul Parish, Jacksonville, and St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Orange Park. He was appointed pastor of Sacred Heart Parish, Green Cove Springs, in 1982 and served there until 1994 before Bishop Snyder appointed him pastor of St. Pius V Parish in time for their 75th Anniversary in 1994. He attended St. Pius V Catholic School for six years and three years at Susie E. Talbert School before attending Bishop Kenny High School, where he graduated in 1970.

“I always desired the priesthood; to celebrate the Eucharist and be with the people, but I never imagined I’d be a monsignor after all these years,” said Msgr. Boddie. “I’m so honored by this title, especially as pastor of Christ the King Parish. I’m grateful to the bishop for putting his confidence in me, and I will gladly continue my ministry and service for him.”

Bishop Estévez will celebrate Mass honoring Msgr. Boddie at Christ the King Catholic Church in Jacksonville on Sunday, June 20 at 9 a.m. and will celebrate Mass honoring Msgr. Houle at St. Paul Catholic Church in Jacksonville Beach on Sunday, June 27 at 10 a.m.