SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Baltimore Auxiliary Bishop Mitchell Thomas Rozanski is Pope Francis’s new choice to lead the Catholic Church in western Massachusetts. But who is this man who will soon be in charge of a diocese serving more than 230,000 Catholics?
Here’s what we know:
- He’s young. Rozanski is currently 55 years old, and will turn 56 in August. That makes him far younger than many American bishops. Bishop Timothy McDonnell, who he will be replacing, is 76 years old; one year past the mandatory retirement age of 75. Given his age, Rozanski could theoretically lead the Springfield Diocese for about 20 years.
- He’s from Maryland. Rozanski was born in Baltimore, attended schools in the Baltimore area, served as a priest in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, and was made an auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese in 2004.
- He’s focused on ministry to the Latino community. Bishop Rozanski was Vicar of Hispanics in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, and in that position had been vocal in support of laws benefiting immigrants.
- He’s proud of his heritage. Bishop Rozanski’s personal coat-of-arms includes the colors of the Polish Flag, and a picture of a rose, which is a play on the translation of his last name, which means “rose flower” in Polish.
- He’s bishop of a diocese that no longer exists. Under Catholic tradition, Bishops who are not actually in charge of a diocese (such as auxiliary bishops) are made “titular bishops,” meaning that they are given the title of bishop of a diocese that no longer exists. In the case of Bishop Rozanski, he currently holds the title of Bishop of Walla Walla, even though that diocese in Washington ceased to exist back in the 1850s.