COVID-19 precautions limited the number of people attending the installation Mass of Archbishop Mitchell T. Rozanski and led others to watch it via the internet.
But it still showed that the Catholic Church in St. Louis is healthy and in good hands, said the people in attendance.
“The Church is alive,” said Sister Delores Vogt of the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity. “I’m grateful for Archbishop Robert J. Carlson, and I pray for blessings on Archbishop Mitchell Rozanski.”
“It’s a historic event,” said Greg Gantz of St. Care of Assisi Parish in Ellisville who attended with his wife, Kathy, and a contingent from the Order of Malta, a lay religious order dedicated to people in need. Archbishop Rozanski, he said, “appears to be a very faithful guy, open to serving St. Louis in a very pastoral way.”
Father Thomas Keller, pastor of Assumption Parish in Mattese, said the archbishop of St. Louis always is the center of the spiritual, charitable and pastoral works of the Church. “To welcome a new archbishop and know he’ll continue those great works is a special moment in the archdiocese,” he said.
Bishop Richard Stika, a St. Louis native, former St. Louis priest and now shepherd of the Diocese of Knoxville, Tenn., said he hopes that Archbishop Rozanski “discovers the beauty of this archdiocese — that is so generous, so good, so joyful — and that he’ll have their support in all the challenges of what it means to be an archbishop.”
Referencing the former St. Louis Browns baseball team, which relocated to Archbishop Rozanski’s native Baltimore after the 1953 season, Bishop Stika joked that “I told him we gave the Browns to Baltimore, so he’s the player to be named later.”
Cardinal Justin Rigali, who served as shepherd of the Archdiocese of St. Louis from 1994-2003, attended the Solemn Vespers and the installation Mass. The 85-year-old cardinal, who now lives in retirement in Knoxville, said he hopes that Archbishop Rozanski “may embrace this magnificent Church with great love and bring to this Church an ever greater participation in the love of Jesus.”
Anytime there’s a change, there’s excitement, said Tom Adamitis of St. Clement of Rome Parish in Des Peres. He attended the Vespers service the previous night. He appreciated seeing people from other faiths in attendance there and Archbishop Rozanski’s interest in building bridges, “similar to what Archbishop Carlson did,” Adamitis said.
Chris and Deacon David Billing of St. Joseph Parish in Josephville said they were excited to witness the installation. They also attended the Vespers and appreciated the new archbishop’s openness to reaching out to others.
Archbishop Rozanski already made a good impression, Deacon Billing said, noting that he’s sad however to see Archbishop Robert Carlson leave. Chris Billing told of Archbishop Carlson’s concern when their family dog died and his advice to get another one. “He’s a dog lover, too,” she said of the outgoing leader of the archdiocese.
Charles Gallagher of St. Anselm Parish in Creve Coeur said he’s familiar with Archbishop Rozanski from his cousin, Msgr. Francis Kelly of the Diocese of Worcester, Mass. The two priests met in Rome, where Msgr. Kelly was superior at Casa Santa Maria at the North American College in Rome.
People who know Archbishop Rozanski know he will do a good job and that “he’s a gentle, kind person,” Gallagher said.
Msgr. Henry Breier, the rector of cathedral basilica, said he hopes Archbishop Rozanski will “follow a long line of really good shepherds” in the Archdiocese of St. Louis. “One of the things I think everybody hopes for is a strong, good shepherd — and all of them have been good in their own ways,” he said. “We need a good shepherd, especially today, to continue some great things, but also to serve in the midst of a pandemic, racial injustice” and other challenges.
Archbishop Rozanski was installed as the 10th Archbishop of St. Louis Aug. 25, at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis. Attendance was limited due to the coronavirus pandemic but a livestream of the Mass was available on the Archdiocese of St. Louis YouTube channel and Facebook page and remains accessible for anyone wanting to watch the installation.