By George P. Matysek Jr.
Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski may be leaving the Archdiocese of Baltimore, but the simple metal crosier he carried as a symbol of his office will remain – the fulfillment of a promise Bishop Rozanski made to one of his greatest Charm City mentors.
Ten years ago, after St. John Paul II named then-Monsignor Rozanski to become a bishop, Archbishop William D. Borders called him to his residence at the Sexton’s Lodge, next to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore.
Archbishop Borders, who had ordained Bishop Rozanski to the priesthood, held his metal crosier in hand. The hammered metal shepherd’s crook had been given to Archbishop Borders by his classmates from St. Meinrad Seminary in Indiana when he was named the first bishop of the Diocese of Orlando, Fla., in 1968.
Bishop Rozanski was flabbergasted by the gesture, and asked the retired Archbishop Borders what he would use if not that crosier.
“He held up his cane,” Bishop Rozanski remembered, “and said, ‘I use this now.’”
Both had a good laugh, Bishop Rozanski said.
The pastoral staff was made in Fulda, Germany, the burial place of St. Boniface. It includes a node with images of the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, St. John Vianney and St. Leo the Great.
Bishop Rozanski said he felt a close connection to Archbishop Borders. His mentor’s motto, “I will listen that I may serve” became part of Bishop Rozanski’s philosophy of ministry, he said.
“He showed us a very important way of ministering to others,” Bishop Rozanski said, “a way of listening and collaborating with others.”
Archbishop Borders’ gift did come with one stipulation: the archbishop made Bishop Rozanski pledge to return the crosier to the Archdiocese of Baltimore if he was ever named to lead his own diocese.
“So, that crosier does now remain here as part of the patrimony of Baltimore,” Bishop Rozanski said. “It’s coming full circle, and I’m fulfilling my promise.”
Sean Caine, communications director for the Archdiocese of Baltimore, said the crosier will be used for special liturgical events such as the anniversary of Archbishop Borders’ death – much as the chalices, crosiers and other items of previous bishops and archbishops are used.
Asked what pastoral staff he will use in Springfield, Bishop Rozanski noted that there are some available from former Massachusetts bishops he may use.
“I think there may be something else in the works,” he said.