SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Saying that he “already feels at home,” new Springfield Bishop Mitchell Thomas Rozanski spoke with members of the local media for the first time Wednesday, just hours after his appointment by Pope Francis was announced.
During a news conference at the Bishop Marshall Center in Springfield, Rozanski was introduced by the man he is replacing: Bishop Timothy Anthony McDonnell.
“The wait is over,” McDonnell said, saying that as of Thursday, Rozanski is officially the new Bishop of Springfield.
Bishop McDonnell was appointed on March 4, 2004 as Bishop of Springfield and installed April 1, 2004, following Bishop Thomas L. Dupre’s resignation. McDonnell came to Springfield from the Archdiocese of New York. He submitted his letter of resignation almost 18 months ago, as required by Church law, on his 75th birthday, and has indicated that he will retire in western Massachusetts.
The acceptance of Bishop McDonnell’s resignation and the appointment of Bishop Rozanski were announced in Washington, DC by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, apostolic nuncio to the United States, and simultaneously by the Vatican Press Office. Though he is the bishop now, a formal installation Mass has been set for Tuesday, August 12 at St. Michael’s Cathedral in Springfield.
Spokesman for the Springfield Roman Catholic Diocese, Mark Dupont, told 22News this is the first natural and celebratory transition of Bishops in Springfield in more than 20 years.
Bishop Thomas Dupre was brought in in 1995 following Bishop John Marshall’s passing in the summer of 1994. Bishop Dupre resigned after he was confronted with allegations he had sexually abused two boys more than two decades earlier. He resigned and checked into a medical facility out of state.
Dupont told 22News Bishop McDonnell will be given a fond farewell as he served out his last 18 months as one of the oldest heads of church in the nation. Dupont siad he and many members of the church admired his diligence to continue to serve the church and Springfield community to the best of his ability everyday, despite the many challenges he faced.
At 55 years old, Rozanski becomes the ninth bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield.