Pope Francis on Thursday appointed Bishop Mitchell Rozanski, an auxiliary of the Baltimore archdiocese, as the head of Massachusetts' Diocese of Springfield, who accepted with gratitude.

"It is with deep gratitude to Almighty God, to His Holiness, Pope Francis and to our Papal Nuncio Archbishop Vigano, that I accept His Holiness' appointment to be the Bishop of Springfield, Massachusetts," Bishop Rozanski said June 19.

"I will remain forever grateful for the privilege to have ministered as priest and bishop in the Archdiocese of Baltimore for nearly 30 years. The formation and guidance that I have received from the dedicated archbishops, bishops, priests, religious men and women and laity of this wonderful Church leave me humbled, yet hope-filled in answering the call to be Bishop of Springfield."

"As we are united in our Faith, let us be faithfully united in prayer for one another."

Bishop Rozanski succeeds Bishop Timothy McDonnell, 76, whose resignation as Springfield bishop was accepted the same day.

A Baltimore native, Bishop Rozanski was born in 1958, and attended Catholic schools in the city and its environs.

Bishop Rozanski attended seminary at the Catholic University of America, and was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Baltimore in 1984. He served in parish ministry, the archdiocesan curia, and with its seminary, and was named a monsignor in 2003.

He was consecrated an auxiliary bishop of Baltimore in 2004, overseeing one of its geographical vicariates during which parishes were merged, and as vicar for Hispanics. He was vocal in supporting Maryland's DREAM act, allowing some undocumented immigrants to receive in-state college tuition.

He has served as chair of the U.S. bishops' ecumenical and interreligious affairs committee, and the Polish-American has also been co-chair of dialogue with the Polish National Catholic Church, a schismatic Church founded in the U.S. in the late 19th century by Polish-American immigrants.

Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore said that "Bishop Rozanski's appointment is a blessing to the Church in Springfield and to the wider Church, which will benefit greatly from his many gifts, just as we have here in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, where he has so generously and effectively served throughout his entire priestly and episcopal ministry."

"I have witnessed the great affection and respect for Bishop Rozanski among clergy and laity alike. And I have marveled at the unique and close relationship he shares with so many people in nearly every corner of our Archdiocese."

The Diocese of Springfield serves more than 229,000 Catholics in four of Massachusetts' counties, constituting roughly 28 percent of the total population.

Bishop Rozanski's Mass of installation will be said  Aug. 12.