WASHINGTON (CNS) — Two Chicago pastors — one born in Mexico, the other in Poland — have been named auxiliary bishops in the Archdiocese of Chicago by Pope Benedict XVI.
The appointments of Father Alberto Rojas, pastor of Good Shepherd Parish, and Father Andrew Wypych, pastor of St. Francis Borgia Parish, were announced in Washington June 13 by Msgr. Jean-Francois Lantheaume, charge d’affaires at the apostolic nunciature.
Bishop-designate Rojas, a 46-year-old native of Mexico, will become the 27th active Hispanic bishop in the United States.
Bishop-designate Wypych, born 56 years ago in Kazimierza Wielka, Poland, was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Krakow in 1979 and came to the United States in 1983. Chicago is believed to have the second-largest Polish population in the world, after Warsaw.
“Both will bring their dedication to the church and her people to the office of bishop,” said a June 13 statement from Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago. “They will make visible in their ministry the love of God for his church.”
He added that Pope Benedict’s “pastoral concern for the priests, deacons, religious men and women and lay ministers and all the faithful of the Archdiocese of Chicago is clearly evident in these appointments.”
He said each of the new auxiliary bishops will head a vicariate of the archdiocese. In addition, Bishop-designate Rojas will be the archdiocesan liaison to Hispanic Catholics and Bishop-designate Wypych will be archdiocesan liaison to Polish Catholics.
The two new bishops will likely be ordained sometime in August.
At a news conference, Cardinal George expressed gratitude to the pope for appointing two archdiocesan priests “who are experienced pastors and who are known to the priests and the people and whom I’m most grateful to have now as helper bishops, auxiliary bishops, in order to be sure that the office of bishop is well taken care of.”
In his comments, Bishop-designate Wypych thanked the pope and the cardinal for their confidence and trust, saying he would not have been named a bishop without the cardinal’s pastoral care and his concern, “in my particular case, for a segment of this church which is Polonia.
“A bishop is given to the universal church, but his ministry is defined by local needs.”
He is the fourth Polish-born priest to be made a bishop in the United States and only the second to be named an auxiliary for the Chicago Archdiocese.
“It seems that God used me to make a history,” Bishop-designate Wypych said.
“I hope that we as Polonia stay together, therefore I ask for your prayers, so we can meet the challenges given to us by Jesus and the church in Chicago,” he said.
The first Polish-born priest named a bishop for Chicago was Auxiliary Bishop Peter P. Rhode in 1908; he was named bishop of Green Bay, Wis., in 1915. He helped organize the Union of Polish Clergy in America.
Bishop-designate Rojas said he felt a “strong sense of gratitude” to God, for first of all calling him to the priesthood, and he thanked the cardinal for his support and his brother bishops for their support.
All of Chicago’s active auxiliary bishops except Bishop John R. Manz attended the news conference. Bishop Manz had left for Seattle for committee meetings in advance of the U.S. bishops’ general meeting June 15-17. With the June 13 appointments, the number of Chicago auxiliary bishops now numbers six.
“Coming from outside and learning the language and studying here has been a challenge, but a blessing as well,” Bishop-designate Rojas said.” It’s been a good 14 years as a priest. I hope I can also be a wonderful connection to the Hispanic community. I’m going to do the best I can. I can only do what I can do. I leave the rest to God.”
Born Jan. 5, 1965, in Aguascalientes, Mexico, he studied for the priesthood at St. Maria de Guadalupe Seminary in Aguascalientes and at the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary in the Archdiocese of Chicago. He was ordained in 1997 for the Archdiocese of Chicago.
Bishop-designate Rojas served 1997-99 as associate pastor of St. Gregory the Great Parish and 1999-2002 as associate pastor of St. Ita Parish, both in Chicago, before becoming pastor of Chicago’s Good Shepherd Parish, a post he held until his episcopal appointment.
He also served from 2002 to 2009 on the seminarian formation faculty of Mundelein Seminary.
Bishop-designate Wypych, born Dec. 5, 1954, pursued seminary studies in Krakow. He was ordained a transitional deacon by Archbishop Karol Wojtyla of Krakow, the future Pope John Paul II. After his 1979 ordination as a priest, he served as associate pastor for two Krakow parishes before seeking incardination in 1983 to the Archdiocese of Chicago. Incardination was granted in 1989.
After his arrival in the United States, he served at St. Giles Parish in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park and at several Chicago parishes, including associate pastor at St. Ladislaus Parish; parochial administrator and pastor at Five Holy Martyrs Parish; associate pastor, parochial administrator and two stints as pastor at St. Pancratius Parish; and, since 2002, pastor of St. Francis Borgia Parish.
Bishop-designate Wypych, who has served as a dean in the archdiocese, speaks Polish, English and French.
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Contributing to this story were Michelle Martin and Alicja Pozywio in Chicago.
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