Aug 8, 2014

All are welcome at public reception for new bishop



By Carolee McGrath
(Iobserve photo/Fred LeBlanc)

WEST SPRINGFIELD – With the clock ticking down on the installation of Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski, the Diocese of Springfield is finalizing plans for a public reception, giving the faithful an opportunity to welcome him in person.

Bishop Rozanski, 56, will be installed Aug. 12 during a 2 p.m. Mass at St. Michael’s Cathedral in Springfield. The reception following will be held at the Better Living Center on the grounds of the Big E in West Springfield, beginning at 5 p.m.

“Bishop Rozanski, mindful that seating in the cathedral is limited due to size, wanted the opportunity to meet and greet more of the people of his new diocese,” said Msgr. Christopher Connelly, vicar general for the Diocese of Springfield. “So the public reception is precisely that, an open, all are welcome gathering at the Better Living Center on the grounds of the Eastern States Exposition.

“Those in leadership at the Eastern States Exposition have been very accommodating and Bishop Rozanski is pleased that the diocese can host the event in a large building, on one level, accessible for persons with disabilities and with plenty of free parking for all. All guests are asked to enter the grounds through gate two,” Msgr. Connelly said.

Msgr. Connelly is the chairman of the Installation Committee, which has been meeting every Tuesday since the appointment of Bishop Rozanski in June. They had six weeks to plan for the installation Mass, which has a guest list of more than 1,000 people. Bishops from throughout the country, priests, pastors, women religious, representatives from the many Catholic ministries, political leaders and Bishop Rozanski’s family from the Baltimore area will be in attendance at the Mass.

(Iobserve photo/Rebecca Drake)

“There’s a lot of detail for an event of this magnitude,” Msgr. Connelly said. “The nice part is it’s an exciting and enjoyable ceremony and it’s for a happy reason.”

The ceremony begins with the tradition of Bishop Rozanski knocking on the front door of St. Michael’s Cathedral. Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of the Archdiocese of Boston and Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the papal nuncio (the pope’s representative to the United States) will greet Bishop Rozanski at the door.

“Bishop Rozanski made it clear that he’d like it to be a celebration of the church of Springfield,” said Msgr. Connelly. “While there will be friends and family, and priests from Baltimore, he primarily wants it to be a celebration of those in Springfield. This is a sign it’s his new home and that he is pleased to be among us and we are equally delighted to have him here as our new shepherd.”

The Installation Mass will be televised live on the Eternal Word Network (EWTN), Catholic TV, and locally on WWLP-22NEWS. It will also stream live on, the diocesan news website.

Mark Dupont, spokesman for the diocese and director of Catholic Communications, will oversee the live television coverage.

“It’s a very significant occasion for us to welcome a new shepherd, someone who is leaving his home, his entire life, devoting his life now to the people of western Mass.,” said Dupont. “Catholic Communications is very happy to be providing the video services for this great historic event of (installing) Bishop Rozanski as the ninth bishop of the Diocese of Springfield.”

Sister of St. Joseph Catherine Homrok, also a member of the Installation Committee, said the planning has focused on providing access, in some manner, for all people of the diocese and beyond.

“We are grateful that those who aren't able to attend in person can experience the importance and joy of this historic moment via television,” Sister Homrok said. “We realize, too, that because it is a work day for many people in the diocese, we feel it's important for our diocesan faith community to have an opportunity to meet and to welcome our new bishop. The public reception provides that opportunity.”

Stacy Dibbern, manager of the Annual Catholic Appeal and special projects coordinator for the diocese, said planning for the installation has been like planning for a super-sized wedding with a lengthy guest list in less than two months.

“There won’t be a lot of sleep going on (in the next few days),” said Dibbern, a member of the Installation Committee. “Imagine planning a wedding in six weeks for 1,000 people. We keep getting calls from people outside the diocese whose travel plans are not complete. We are tying up the loose ends.”

                                         (Iobserve photo/Rebecca Drake) 

The diocese has more than 200,000 Catholics. Dibbern said the public reception is an opportunity for everyone to meet and get to know Bishop Rozanski.

“It’s a happy occasion. It’s wonderful to see so many people who want to be here to welcome the bishop,” said Dibbern.

For more on this story, tune into an upcoming edition of “Real to Reel,” the Diocese of Springfield’s television newsmagazine that airs Saturday evenings at 7 on WWLP-22NEWS.