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Springfield welcomes new bishop - 'the right man for the right place'
Catholic News Service photo
Bishop Mitchell Rozanski uses a mallet to knock three times on the doors of St. Michael's Cathedral in Springfield, Mass., Aug. 12, before his installation as the ninth bishop of the Diocese of Springfield.
Catholic News Service photo
Bishop Mitchell Rozanski uses a mallet to knock three times on the doors of St. Michael's Cathedral in Springfield, Mass., Aug. 12, before his installation as the ninth bishop of the Diocese of Springfield.
Catholic News Service


SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — It would be difficult to say who received more applause: newly installed Springfield Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski or his parents, Alfred and Jean.

The parents of the Springfield Diocese's first Polish-American bishop were recognized at the beginning of the installation Mass Aug. 12 at St. Michael's Cathedral.

In giving the introductory remarks before the liturgy, recently retired Springfield Bishop Timothy A. McDonnell acknowledged the many special guests in the cathedral, including cardinals, archbishops, bishops, diocesan priests and deacons, and clergy from faith communities throughout Springfield.

"I also welcome two people without whom this day would not have come to be," Bishop McDonnell said, "his parents."

The remark drew sustained applause from the more than 900 people who had come to the cathedral to celebrate the installation of the ninth bishop of the Springfield Diocese. "That tells you how welcomed you are by everyone in this diocese," Bishop McDonnell said, adding jokingly, "especially me!"

Bishop Rozanski was named in June to be Springfield's ninth bishop. Ordained a priest for the Baltimore Archdiocese in 1984, he was an auxiliary bishop for the archdiocese from 2004 until his appointment to the Massachusetts diocese.

In his homily, he highlighted the responsibility of a shepherd to reach out and bring back lost sheep.

Citing Pope Francis, Bishop Rozanski said all are called to welcome the alienated "by our compassion, joy and witness to the love of God at work in our world."

"As your bishop," the 56-year-old Baltimore native said, "I am keenly aware of the need to reach out to those who have stopped practicing our faith for any reason -- those who may have been hurt in any way - to bring them back to the rich pasture that is our church."

At the beginning of the 140-minute liturgy, the former Baltimore auxiliary bishop used a large mallet to knock three times on the wooden doors of the cathedral in Springfield. Bishop McDonnell opened the passageway and welcomed his successor.

Msgr. Christopher D. Connelly, cathedral rector, presented Bishop Rozanski with a crucifix, which the new Springfield bishop venerated with a kiss. He then blessed himself and those around him with holy water.

The rite of installation formally began with a greeting from Boston Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley welcomed Bishop Rozanski on behalf of the seven Massachusetts dioceses that make up the Boston province.

"The faith and enthusiasm of the Catholic community here will doubtless continue to grow under your leadership," the cardinal said.

Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the apostolic nuncio, spoke briefly before formally reading Pope Francis' letter of the appointment of Bishop Rozanski to Springfield. The congregation applauded with great enthusiasm after the letter was read.

Among the more than 40 bishops, archbishops and cardinals at the Mass were Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori; Cardinal Edwin F. O'Brien, former archbishop of Baltimore and current grand master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem; Baltimore Auxiliary Bishop Denis J. Madden; and Bishop W. Francis Malooly of Wilmington, Del., also a former auxiliary bishop of Baltimore.

Many cultures were represented at the celebration, with prayers offered in American Sign Language, French, Haitian Creole, Italian, Kirundi, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish and Vietnamese.

Asian and African greetings were offered in song at the start of the liturgy, and musical selections included Spanish and Polish compositions.

About 900 people filled the cathedral, and the congregation included pastors, religious and lay leaders from the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

During the liturgy, Bishop Rozanski greeted various members of the Catholic, interfaith and ecumenical communities.

Highlighting the growing diversity of his new diocese, Bishop Rozanski spoke in Spanish during part of his homily. In his former role as vicar for Hispanics in Baltimore, Bishop Rozanski said, he had experienced a church of "great energy and joy in serving the Lord through the great faith of the Latino people."

"Let us be mindful of the call given to us in baptism, to serve the Lord with our lives and to bring our faith to others by our example and witness," he said.

Bishop Rozanski made a special point of acknowledging "two wonderful shepherds of God's people, Bishop Joseph Maguire, the fifth bishop of Springfield, and Cardinal William Keeler, the 14th archbishop of Baltimore. Both of them are watching this Mass from their respective residences."

In a nod to his Polish heritage and that of many of the people in the Springfield Diocese, Bishop Rozanski announced he intended to deliver part of his homily in Polish, prompting surprised applause from some in the congregation. He drew laughter when he warned those who clapped that they hadn't yet heard his Polish.

Bishop Rozanski noted in Polish that the pectoral cross he wore at the Mass was a gift of Archbishop Lori. It is a replica of one worn by St. John Paul II when he was the archbishop of Krakow, Poland, and then pope.

"It reminds all of us of the Poland that suffered so much under atheistic regimes and yet thrived because of the Catholic faith," Bishop Rozanski said. "We have relied on the help of God in the past and we will continue to do so in the present and in the future, knowing that the Good Shepherd, who watched over Poland during years of trial, gives us the joy to witness our cherished faith to others."

Returning to English, the bishop said he would learn other languages spoken in his new diocese "over food."

Speaking to reporters immediately after the Mass, Bishop Rozanski called the liturgy a "wonderful celebration" and added, "I am so blessed to be called as the shepherd here." He said he will begin his ministry by getting to know the people in the parishes of western Massachusetts, and striving to live out his personal episcopal motto, "Serve the Lord with Gladness."

Patrice Parke, a member of St. Cecilia Parish in Wilbraham, he brings a special quality to his episcopacy. "I think his youth will attract a lot of people," she told The Catholic Mirror, Springfield's diocesan magazine. "We need to constantly be rebuilding the church."

"You could tell in his homily that he really came here with love in his heart for the people," Diane Barr, Baltimore's chancellor, told The Catholic Review, the archdiocesan newspaper. "It's the right man for the right place."





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