Jun 22, 2014

Polish, Hispanic Catholics ‘ecstatic’ over appointment of Bishop Rozanski



(Photo by Rebecca Drake)

By Terence Hegarty

LUDLOW – With Polish roots and a demonstrated commitment to Hispanic ministry, newly-appointed Springfield Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski already has members of each community in the diocese looking forward to his ministering here.

The first bishop of Polish descent for the Diocese of Springfield, Bishop Rozanski has been active in Hispanic ministry as an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Baltimore for the last decade.

He was officially appointed the Ninth Bishop of the Diocese of Springfield by Pope Francis on June 19. He greeted the press and many of the faithful in Springfield that day.

(Photo by Terence Hegarty)

“It’s wonderful news, wonderful news,” said Stasia Slota (pushing stroller in photo at right), a native of Poland and a member of Christ the King Parish here. “I am very happy, and I think a lot of Polish people who live around here will really love it when he comes here,” she told iobserve June 22.

Bishop Timothy A. McDonnell, who had served as bishop for the diocese since 2004, is now officially retired, but he will serve as Apostolic Administrator until Bishop Rozanski arrives in Springfield in August. Bishop Rozanski is scheduled to be installed as bishop of Springfield on Aug. 12 in St. Michael’s Cathedral in Springfield.

Slota hopes that Bishop Rozanski will connect with the youth in the diocese as well. “We need young people to be brought back to church,” she said. “We need young people off the streets and we need a good community with people living in peace like God created.”

Clad in traditional, colorful Polish garb, Slota told iobserve that she hopes the Polish community will organize a special welcome for Bishop Rozanski in Ludlow sometime after his installation. “I wish he could feel at home here,” she said.

“It’s quite exciting,” said Father Gary M. Dailey, director of vocations for the Diocese of Springfield, regarding the appointment.

“The Polish people have a great sense of pride in their own,” said Father Dailey, who is also of Polish descent. He said that, at the Sunday morning Mass at Christ the King Parish on June 22, the congregation erupted in applause when the news of the new bishop was formally announced.

“I think Bishop Rozanski is going to be a great unifier and a great bishop for us in the diocese,” he said. “I’ve already gotten some calls from Baltimore saying that we’re getting a great man.”

The reaction on the part of Hispanics in the diocese was much the same.

“When I heard it (news of Bishop Rozanski’s appointment) I was really happy because I know that Bishop Timothy had health issues that he wanted to take care of,” said Carmen Sanchez, a parishioner of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Springfield.

She spoke to iobserve June 22 following the 9:15 a.m. Spanish Mass at her parish. “So, we were sad for him to go, but we wanted someone who was young and vibrant.”

Among other responsibilities he undertook as an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Bishop Rozanski, served as the Vicar for Hispanics.

Sanchez said that at the start of the Hispanic community’s regular Thursday prayer group meeting at her parish, participants were told of the appointment of Bishop Rozanski. “We were ecstatic, because he speaks Spanish and he’s very into the Spanish communities,” Sanchez told iobserve. “Everybody was clapping (they were) like ‘yeah, we can’t wait to meet him,’” she said.

Speaking of the new Springfield bishop, Sanchez said, “They say that he’s very good with the Latin community. But, we feel that if he’s good with the Latin community, he’s good with everybody.”