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Pope names Baltimore auxiliary bishop to head Massachusetts diocese

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Pope Francis has appointed Auxiliary Bishop Mitchell Rozanski of Baltimore as bishop of the diocese of Springfield, Mass.

Rozanski will succeed Bishop Timothy McDonnell, 76, whose resignation was accepted by the pope.

The appointment was announced Thursday in Washington by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Rozanski, 55, was ordained a priest for the Baltimore archdiocese in 1984. He became an auxiliary bishop in the archdiocese in 2004.

"I will remain forever grateful for the privilege to have ministered as priest and bishop in the Archdiocese of Baltimore for nearly 30 years," Rozanski said Thursday in a statement.

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Rozanski will be installed Aug. 12 in Springfield.

The Baltimore native grew up in Sacred Heart of Mary Parish in the Graceland Park neighborhood, where he attended the parish elementary school. The son of a Bethlehem Steel police officer graduated from Our Lady of Mount Carmel High School in Essex, where he had served as student council president. He prepared for the priesthood at the Theological College at The Catholic University of America, Washington.

Before becoming a member of the hierarchy, Rozanski served as an associate pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Baltimore, and St. Isaac Jogues Parish in Carney, Md. In 1993, he was named administrator and then pastor of Baltimore's Holy Cross and St. Mary Star of the Sea parishes before becoming pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Severna Park, Md., from 2000 to 2004. Other parish assignments in Maryland included appointments at St. Michael the Archangel, Overlea; Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, Homeland; and Church of the Immaculate Conception, Towson.

As auxiliary bishop of Baltimore, Rozanski originally oversaw parishes in Anne Arundel, Baltimore and Harford counties. Later, when the archdiocese's vicariate structure was altered, his responsibilities grew as he oversaw the newly formed Seton vicariate, whose territory includes Allegany, Anne Arundel, Carroll, Frederick, Garrett, Howard and Washington counties.

In leading this vicariate, Rozanski was active in ongoing pastoral planning and was well known for traveling great distances over a sprawling territory. He worked with parish and regional leaders on a variety of projects.

Rozanski also served as vicar for Hispanics in the archdiocese, joining with other faith leaders in advocating for laws supporting immigrants. He was a vocal supporter in passing the Maryland DREAM Act, a law that allows certain undocumented immigrants to pay in-state college tuition rates.

Nationally, Rozanski served as co-chairman of the Polish National Catholic-Roman Catholic Dialogue. In 2013, he was elected chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs.

Established in 1870, the Springfield diocese counts 85 parishes, eight missions and more than 229,000 Catholics in four western Massachusetts counties. The diocese includes 15 Catholic elementary schools, four high schools and one college.

[George P. Matysek in Baltimore contributed to this story.]

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