Archbishop Mitchell Rozanski installed as 10th Archbishop of St. Louis
Pope Francis on June 10 appointed Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski as the 11th bishop and 10th archbishop of St. Louis, and accepted the retirement of Archbishop Robert J. Carlson. Archbishop Rozanski served as head of the Diocese of Springfield, Massachusetts, since 2014. He previously served as a priest and auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Baltimore.
“Mindful of God’s goodness, I wish to express my gratitude to our Holy Father for his trust that he has placed in me,” Archbishop Rozanski said. He also thanked Archbishop Carlson for his 11 years of service as shepherd of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, and for “his steady leadership and living out the Gospel message in such a beautiful, humble way.” Archbishop Rozanski’s episcopal motto is “Serve the Lord with Gladness.”
At the Mass of Installation Aug. 25, 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.” People attending a Mass of Thanksgiving honoring Archbishop Robert J. Carlson Aug. 23 thanked him several times with extended applause. Archbishop Carlson turned the tables, detailing ways he had been blessed by the people of the Archdiocese of St. Louis.
Pandemic suspends public celebration of Masses
All public celebrations of Mass in the Archdiocese of St. Louis were suspended on March 16 in order to help slow the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus. The mandate also suspended all public liturgical celebrations and other activities. The archbishop granted a dispensation for Catholics in the archdiocese from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass. “This decision has not been made lightly,” Archbishop Carlson wrote in a statement. “However, caring for both our physical and spiritual health go hand-in-hand, and the health, safety and overall well-being of the people of the archdiocese is my first priority.”
The upside of the suspension of public Masses was the creativity parishes displayed in reaching out to parishioners, including live-streamed Masses, virtual prayer groups, outdoor adoration and accommodations for other sacraments, notably reconciliation. “Now you’re seeing timelines saturated with the sacraments — the Mass — and with prayer, hope and inspiration. That connection has become more meaningful, significant and worthwhile — and dare I say, sacred. That’s the silver lining in all of this,” said Father Joe Post, pastor of Immaculate Conception in Union.
When congregations returned in May, there were many requirements to keep Mass-goers safe, including limited capacity, social distancing and face covering requirements, with each church subject to the requirements of the county in which it resides.
Catholic schools affected by COVID-19 pandemic
Archbishop Carlson ordered all archdiocesan elementary and high schools to close on March 18 to help limit the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. They originally were to remain closed until April 6, but it lasted through the school year. The directive included the cancellation of all extracurricular activities at the schools, including athletics. The letter outlined solutions for digital learning platforms for schools to use during the closure. Assistance for children and families who rely on schools for meals was coordinated through the Society of St. Vincent de Paul’s St. Louis Council and Catholic Charities of St. Louis.
Most Catholic schools opened in the fall, following archdiocesan guidance provided by the archdiocese and local health and government officials.
Two new priests, 22 permanent deacons ordained for the archdiocese
A former pharmacist and a carpenter from a farming community entered the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis on May 23 and emerged as priests ordained for the Archdiocese of St. Louis. Fathers Christopher Douglas Smith and Dane Joseph Westhoff were ordained by Archbishop Carlson, who celebrated the 50th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood on the same day. “You both had successful careers, but in your journey of faith you both received the grace,” he said. “You both dared to ask Jesus the same question, ‘What good must I do?’ Jesus said to you, ‘Follow me.’ Unlike the young man who went away sad, you gave up what you had and followed Jesus — you heard the call.”
The 22 permanent deacons were ordained Aug. 29 at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis. It was the first ordination for Archbishop Mitchell Rozanski as Archbishop of St. Louis. “In this self-emptying service, the deacon is called to give example to others of what it means to accept the cross, follow in the Lord’s footsteps and lead others to Him who is the author of all life,” Archbishop Rozanski said.
Archbishop Carlson makes last ad limina visit
Archbishop Carlson made his second “ad limina” visit as Archbishop of St. Louis in January. The ad limina is formally known as the “quinquennial visit ad limina apostolorum” and refers to the obligation of diocesan bishops to visit every five years with the pope to report on the state of their dioceses. As outlined in nos. 399-400 of Canon Law, the Quinquennial Report serves as a means of promoting the relationship of communion between particular Churches and the Roman Pontiff. The preparation of the report is considered a time for reflection on the current state of the diocese and pastoral planning for the future. The report is sent to the Holy Father months in advance of the visit to prepare for his personal and pastoral meeting with each bishop. A copy of the report also is dissected and sent to the various dicasteries, or departments, of the Roman Curia.
Thousands from archdiocese attend March for Life
Roughly 3,000 people from St. Louis were among the thousands who gathered in Washington, D.C., Jan. 24 for the annual March for Life. Prior to the March, Archbishop Robert J. Carlson celebrated Mass for Generation Life
pilgrims at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, Virginia. “Of all the creatures that God has created, only human beings share in His image, and each one of us is given the ability to know, receive and return the love of God,” said the archbishop, who has attended 14 marches. The ultimate goal of the Generation Life pilgrimage, sponsored each year by the archdiocesan Office of Youth Ministry, is to move the hearts of young people to the reality of abortion so that lives can be changed and they can return home and take action, said Brian Miller, senior director of the archdiocesan Catholic Youth Apostolate.
Walking with Moms in Need
Mary Queen of Angels is one of numerous local organizations that offer tangible and emotional support to pregnant women who find themselves in vulnerable situations. Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, announced an initiative to draw attention to resources available to pregnant mothers in need. The chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities said “Walking With Moms in Need: A Year of Service” will help parishes to communicate the support services available to women who are thinking about whether to carry their child to term. The year of service began March 25, the 25th anniversary of St. John Paul II’s encyclical “Evangelium Vitae” (“The Gospel of Life”).
Catholic Charities call center opens to handle upswing in need
A Catholic Charities of St. Louis call center opened May 4, handling about 70 calls a day from people in need of help. The intake workers make sure people meet qualifications, answer questions and sometimes make referrals to other resources. They also encourage and motivate callers. A typical caller is a single parent unable to make a full rent payment after being laid off from work due to the coronavirus pandemic. Theresa Ruzicka, president of Catholic Charities of St. Louis, said the call center was needed because of an increase in calls and because of its role with the COVID-19 Regional Response Team that brought together nonprofits to address the need. Throughout the year, various Catholic Charities agencies increased or altered services in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Regina Cleri priests grateful for support after outbreak
Nearly all of Regina Cleri’s residents and about half of its employees tested positive for the COVID-19 virus after an outbreak at the residence for retired priests. Concerned about the health of retired priests, Archbishop Robert J. Carlson requested Doctor Marie Paul Lockerd, family physician and Religious Sister of Mercy of Alma, Michigan, to help care for priests as they recovered. “The stability here is prayer, and we all support each other,” she said. “It’s been a privilege for me to serve our retired priests.” The care and concern from the community, including phone calls, cards and donated meals from organizations such as the Knights of Columbus, has been overwhelmingly positive and lifted the priests’ spirits.
Annual Catholic Appeal exceeds goal in pandemic
Despite hardships that emerged from a global health pandemic, Catholics in the Archdiocese of St. Louis showed the fruits of their generosity through a successful 2020 Annual Catholic Appeal. The appeal raised more than $15 million from pledges and other sources; more than $13.9 million of that came from the parish appeal. Including estate gifts and anticipated matching gifts, the total exceeds $16.1 million. This year’s goal was $14.5 million.
Love not hate sought by parishioners countering systems of racism
Approximately 400 people stood prayerfully and silently along a four-block section of Grand Avenue south of Interstate 44 in St. Louis on June 5, holding signs such as “Work Against the Sin of Racism,” “Pray for Peace” and “Racism Is Ungodly.” Motorists honked as they passed the demonstration sponsored by the social equity team of the Living Justice Commission at St. Margaret of Scotland Parish. The majority of the people on both sides of the street were members of the parish. They stood for George Floyd, a Black man who died in the custody of Minneapolis police after an officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes, and for other victims of encounters with police.
God’s presence, respect for others, help us rise above political attacks
For some, the recovery from the divisiveness of the presidential election didn’t come easy, but our Catholic faith guides us and show us what’s really important. Archbishop Rozanski, at an interfaith prayer service for unity and peace on Nov. 4, said “it is time to come together as we turn to God’s eternal, unchanging love to realize the priorities in our lives and as we pray for the unity for which we yearn as the human race,” Archbishop Rozanski said. Prior to the Nov. 3 election, Archbishop Rozanski wrote in his column in the Review that no matter how the election turns out, God wins. Everything but God “wears out sooner or later and is bound to disappoint us. Election week is an important time to remember that,” he wrote.
Catholics must weigh ethical considerations of COVID vaccine
As pharmaceutical companies come closer to releasing coronavirus vaccines, several moral issues emerge for consideration among Catholics, said two Catholic health care ethicists. How the vaccines are made must be considered, including whether they have illicit materials such as abortion-derived cell lines, said Father Peter Fonseca, a bioethicist and parochial administrator of St. Theodore Parish in Flint Hill. With more than two dozen vaccine candidates in development, it is important to understand how they are developed, said Father Fonseca, who holds a certificate in health care ethics from the National Catholic Bioethics Center and a master’s degree in bioethics from the University of Mary. Two of the primary vaccine candidates, manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, do not directly use cell lines from fetal tissue taken from the body of an aborted baby, a recent memo from the U.S. bishops.
Health care workers find presence God in midst of pandemic
With virus cases remaining at extremely high levels in the St. Louis area and across Missouri, the pressure placed upon health care workers has not eased since the pandemic came to the area nine months ago. Workers say they have found the presence of God through the pastoral and spiritual care they have received through their work of bringing healing to others. “It’s both exhausting and sad to go through that day in and day out,” said Diane Brunts, a palliative care nurse and member of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Oakville. “You feel like it’s the saddest Groundhog Day ever. It’s important to help each other out and to make sure that we’re OK. It’s very much like a family.”