PITTSFIELD -- Local Catholics will have a chance to meet their new bishop on Sunday.
The Most Rev. Mitchell Rozanski visits the Berkshires for the first time since officially becoming the spiritual leader of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield.
Rozanski will give the homily during 11:30 a.m. Mass at St. Joseph Church in Pittsfield, followed by attending a reception in his honor at the parish center, according to church pastor, Monsignor Michael Shershanovich. The religious and secular celebration is open to all.
"It says something about the Berkshires that he is coming here," Shershanovich said.
The Pittsfield visit is among the first of many trips Rozanski plans to make throughout the diocese over the next 12 months.
"I feel that it is important to get to know the priests, deacons, women and men religious and parishioners of the diocese, and the only way to do that is to visit the parishes," he said in an Eagle interview this week. The diocese covers four counties in Western Massachusetts and it is important for me as the leader to get to know the people who live in those four counties."
Rozanski, 55, was the auxiliary bishop of the Archdicoese of Baltimore, before Pope Francis appointed him bishop in June to lead Catholics in Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden and Hampshire counties.
On Aug. 12, the Baltimore native was installed as bishop, succeeding the Most Rev. Timothy McDonnell, who had been bishop since April 2004.
McDonnell announced his resignation as bishop on his 75th birthday in December 2012 as required by canonical law.
Being 20 years younger than his predecessor should bode well for Rozanski and the diocese, according to Shershanovich.
"I think he has youth on his side and his energy will benefit us," he said.
Rozanski said he will listen to those he serves in addressing such issues as declining student enrollment in Catholic schools and reaching out to immigrants and other Catholics of ethnic minority groups.
He praised McDonnell for helping with a smooth transition in getting to know the issues and intricacies of the diocese.
"He has been so kind in taking so much time with me to answer questions and to share with me the geography, issues, challenges and joys of his years of being bishop here," the new bishop said. "Although I have been here but one month, I already feel comfortable and at home."
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