Yesterday I was privileged to attend the installation of Bishop Mitchell Thomas Rozanski as Bishop of Springfield. In the course of his homily, Bishop Rozanski shared the following reflections: "From my first days here in June when Bishop McDonnell took me on a tour of this area and on my subsequent visits here, I have been awestruck at the beauty of the surroundings. This diocese is nurtured by waters. With the massive Quabbin Reservoir to our east, the Housatonic River and the lovely lakes of the Berkshires to the west to the splendor of the Connecticut river running through the heart of these counties, it is no wonder that the seal of our diocese portrays four images of flowing water.
The very word “spring” conjures up images of fresh and pure lifegiving water. (Perhaps I may have another description of this scenery in February when the waters change into sleet and freezing rain!)
For Christians, water represents the new life that is given to us in baptism. The flowing waters poured upon us along with the Trinitarian formula welcome us into God’s family, the Church. Today’s celebration not only recalls the day of baptism for us, but is a sure reminder that in being welcomed into the Church, we become members of the family of God, united in faith with one another, under the care of the Good Shepherd.
What splendid imagery Ezekiel gives to us of God as our shepherd! He speaks of the ways in which the shepherd reaches out to bring back the sheep, not merely standing by passively and watching them from afar, but actively going to seek them and lead them back to the place of good pastures, where clear waters will give them life. It is God’s dream for His people, who at that time experienced the pain of exile, to give encouragement and hope to them. Pope Francis reminds us in the Joy of the Gospel, that we are all called to follow the example of the Shepherd, reaching out to those who for any reason have become alienated from God and the Church and welcoming them by our compassion, joy and witness to the love of God at work in our world.
As your bishop, I am keenly aware of the need to reach out to those who have stopped practicing our Faith for any reason, those who may have been hurt in any way, to bring them back to the rich pasture that is our Church. In the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, Jesus himself spoke the parable of the lost sheep to illustrate for us our Father’s love and the need to reach out to bring everyone home. The lush landscape and waters of the diocese of Springfield serve as a metaphor for the pastures of Faith in which Jesus calls us to abide."
Congratulations and prayers for many Blessed Years in Springfield from the entire Saint John's Seminary community!