With great anticipation and joy, Archbishop Mitchell T. Rozanski was installed as the 10th Archbishop of St. Louis.
The nearly two-hour Mass was celebrated Aug. 25, the feast of St. Louis, with almost 500 people in attendance. Joining him for the celebration were his predecessor, retired Archbishop Robert J. Carlson; Cardinal Justin Rigali, who served as St. Louis’ archbishop from 1994-2003; more than two dozen bishops, and many priests, permanent deacons, consecrated religious and laity.
Msgr. Dennis Kuruppassery, representing the apostolic nuncio to the United States, read the apostolic letter from Pope Francis in which the pope officially released Archbishop Rozanski from his duties as bishop of the Diocese of Springfield, Mass., and appointed him as shepherd of the Archdiocese of St. Louis.
Msgr. Kuruppassery recalled the words of Pope Francis, who when blessing the palliums earlier this year, emphasized the themes of unity and prophecy. He said what is needed are pastors who show the miracle of God’s love and offer their lives for others.
Archbishop Rozanski moved across the sanctuary as he displayed the apostolic letter to the entire congregation.
Archbishop Rozanski was presented with the pallium, a woolen band that the heads of archdioceses wear around their shoulders over their Mass vestments. It is given to an archbishop by the pope as a
sign of their unity with him as they minister to a part of the Catholic “flock.” This is the first time a recent archbishop of St. Louis has received the pallium in St. Louis.
The pallium measures about 3 inches wide and has a 14-inch strip hanging down the front and the back. The strips are finished with black silk, almost like the hooves of the sheep the archbishop is symbolically carrying over his shoulders.
He was then escorted to the bishop’s chair, or cathedra, where the archbishop presides at Mass and other celebrations at the cathedral basilica.
There was a brief exchange with Archbishop Carlson, who handed him the crosier, the pastoral staff that symbolizes the bishop’s responsibility of leading all to Christ. The crosier originally belonged to Cardinal John J. Glennon and has been presented to each archbishop since., and is used for Masses and other ceremonies at the cathedral basilica.
In the homily, Archbishop Rozanski said he is reminded of how the Lord built His Church on the rock of Peter’s faith. “And so as a Catholic, even more as a pastor, I pledge my own fidelity, and unity and that of God’s people in this ‘Rome of the West’ to Peter’s successor among us, without whom we cannot know the Lord who sent him, the Lord who seeks to send us.”
After receiving the “surprising news” of his appointment to St. Louis, the next person he spoke with was Archbishop Carlson, whom he thanked for his service to St. Louis, and described him as “a shepherd truly dedicated to the Lord Jesus and His people.” His comments received overwhelming applause from the congregation.
Referring to the St. Louis Gateway Arch as a tangible symbol of the “Gateway to the West,” Archbishop Rozanski spoke of the early inhabitants of this area who sought a better life and place to raise their families.
That kind of hope is needed in our world today, he said. Citing urgent crosses facing our nation and Church today, including the COVID-19 pandemic, systemic racism, and civil discourse, Archbishop Rozanski said we need to ask ourselves where God is in all of this. “We need only to look at the words of Jesus in today’s Gospel: ‘Love one another as I have loved you.’”
“In the midst of a pandemic, a societal reckoning on the life issue of race relations an atrophied civic discourse — and yes, the often-sinful polemics we now face within our Church — loving one another seems to be a tough thing to do these days. Yet, my friends, we are called to be a people of hope.”
“This ‘Gateway City’ provides us a rich imagery — for in order for us to live out this fundamental command to love one another it must be carried out in action. We ourselves must gateways, not
gatekeepers; gateways to healing, to evangelization, to mercy, to compassion — gateways to listening with the ears of Jesus.”
Archbishop Rozanski’s younger brothers, Kenneth and Albert Rozanski, and two of his nephews, Kyle, 21, and Dalton, 15, flew in from the Baltimore area to attend the installation Mass. The archbishop’s
parents Alfred and Jean, watched the Mass from their home in Baltimore. The archbishop used his personal chalice at the Mass, which was a gift from his parents when he was ordained a priest in 1984.
This was the first time Archbishop Rozanski’s family had been to St. Louis. After the archbishop got the news he was being moved to St. Louis, he planned a visit to Baltimore to tell his family, which puzzled his brothers at first.
“He called and said, ‘I’m getting a transfer. … I’m moving from Springfield,’” Kenneth Rozanski recalled. He asked, “Where are they sending you?” to which the archbishop said — St. Louis. “I was like, ‘Oh, that’s a big city!’”
The Rozanski brothers spoke about how their older brother was charged with watching over them when their parents were not at home. “We used to be pretty good at playing practical jokes on one another,” said Albert Rozanski.
They described their older brother as “very dedicated.”
“He loves what he does,” Albert Rozanski said. “I don’t know how he does it. His battery is always going. You never hear him complain or talk bad about anybody. He truly loves what he does. He is looking forward to this new experience.”