Father Kevin J. Kimtis received a pleasant, yet unexpected piece of mail March 16.

Inside what is called a “diplomatic pouch” was a decree stating he had been named Chaplain to His Holiness with the title of Monsignor by Pope Francis.

“It’s humbling,” Msgr. Kimtis said, admitting that the honor did not come as a total surprise.

Given his current work as a secretary of the Apostolic Nunciature in India and Nepal, Msgr. Kimtis knew at some point he would be named a monsignor. Priests who hold the title of “Monsignor” are part of the Pontifical Household, which includes the papal chapel and papal family.

While in most cases it’s the diocesan bishop who nominates a priest for the honor, Msgr. Kimtis’ nomination came directly from the Holy Father because of his work.

Msgr. Kimtis met with The Monitor Magazine to share thoughts about his priesthood and the past four years serving in a diplomatic role on behalf of the Holy See. Prior to his current assignment in India, he was secretary to the Apostolic Nunciature in Benin and Togo, West Africa, to which he was named in 2019.

Msgr. Kimtis explained that the nuncio is the liaison between the Holy See and the Catholic diocesan bishop in the nation to which he is assigned.

As secretary to the Nunciature in Benin and Togo, and now the secretary to the Nunciature in India and Nepal, Msgr. Kimtis assists in all diplomatic and ecclesiastical duties, he said, noting that assignments usually last three years before being moved to a different nation in the same capacity.

In New Dehli, Msgr. Kimtis currently lives and works in the nunciature with the nuncio, two other secretaries and six religious sisters. The staff also includes additional religious and lay persons.

“It’s a different type of community to live in,” he said, unlike living in a parish where there is a pastor and a parochial vicar. However, there is a sense of parish life when celebrating Mass and the Sacraments for the lay diplomats who are assigned there for two or three-year terms, he said.

Reflecting on his time in Africa, Msgr. Kimtis said it was wonderful to observe the cultures of two countries, visiting seminarians and parishes, and even leading a seminar for seminarians.

“I was very impressed with seminary life and the fervor of the numerous seminarians” who are highly intelligent, curious and motivated in countries “where it is not an easy place to be a priest,” he said.

Unlike Africa, where about one-third of the population is Christian, India is a much larger country with about 1.5 billion people and a Christian population of a little more than two percent.

“There’s diversity of languages, but mercifully – for me – English is well-known and a lot of Church work can be done in English,” he said.

“I’ve learned to appreciate more the diversity that one finds whether it’s working in a particular parish or a diocese or a country,” he said, “and the richness that diversity offers.”

Msgr. Kimtis extended deep gratitude to Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., for the opportunity to serve the wider Church, saying it was the Bishop who initially requested that Msgr. Kimtis pursue doctorate studies in canon law at the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome, unaware it would be a prerequisite for service in the diplomatic corps of the Church.

“It is certainly a sacrifice to allow a priest to serve the Church outside the Diocese,” Msgr. Kimtis said. But between Africa and now India and Nepal, “I’ve been enriched by working with and among many great blessings and challenges.”