SPRINGFIELD - After 18 months of deliberation, the auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Md., has been named the ninth bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield.
"I'm delighted to announce our wait is over," said the Most Rev. Timothy McDonnell, who then introduced the Most Rev. Mitchell Thomas Rozanski as his successor during a press conference Thursday morning held at the Bishop John Marshall Center.
Rozanski will be formally installed as bishop on Tuesday, Aug. 12, at St. Michael's Cathedral in Springfield.
McDonnell submitted his resignation as bishop on his 75th birthday -- Dec. 23, 2012 -- as required by canonical law.
McDonnell was appointed as bishop of Springfield on March 4, 2004 and was installed on April 1, 2004. He came to Springfield from the Archdiocese of New York, N.Y. He has indicated that he will retire in Western Massachusetts, according to a statement from the diocese.
Rozanski's appointment by Pope Francis was publicly announced early Thursday morning, with statements simultaneously issued by the Vatican Press Office and in Washington, D.C. by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
Rozanski, 55, a Baltimore native, will be the first bishop of the Springfield diocese who is of Polish-American descent.
Rozanski said he got the call from Archbishop Vigano last week regarding his new appointment while attending a bishop's conference in New Orleans.
"Any assignment that the church has given to me I have accepted. It is the will of God and my gratitude to God," Rozanski said during Thursday's press conference.
The new bishop said he has been warmly welcomed thus far into the western Massachusetts region.
He said McDonnell greeted him at the airport on Wednesday and toured him through Springfield and Holyoke, giving him both practical maps and spiritual advice. "I feel so much at home and I feel so grateful to him," said Rozanski of McDonnell's "fraternal hospitality."
Rozanski added that, McDonnell has been "ebullient in sharing his love and joy of ministry here. It's infectious."
The new bishop said that in the coming weeks and months, he looks forward to not only acquainting himself with his new geography, but with its people.
Rozanski said he plans to work with other leaders in the diocese, as well as his colleagues in the Northeast to address issues such as the declining student population in Catholic schools and reaching out to immigrants and other Catholics of ethnic minority groups.
"Jesus gives us the example and model of welcome. The most important thing we need to do as a church is to make sure we are welcoming" and that people know "that they have our support and love here."