Our two new bishops: Rojas,Wypych

By Michelle Martin | Staff writer
Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Archdiocese of Chicago has two new auxiliary bishops, both from within its own clergy and both immigrants. Cardinal George announced June 13 that Pope Benedict XVI had named Father Andrew Wypych, 56, pastor of St. Francis Borgia Parish, 8033 W. Addison St., and Father Alberto Rojas, 46, pastor of Good Shepherd Parish, 2719 S. Kolin Ave., to serve as bishops.

“We are all of us grateful that the Holy Father has again shown his solicitude for this archdiocese and has given us two bishops from the clergy of the archdiocese itself 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,” the cardinal said at the press conference introducing the new bishops.

Their roots

Bishop-designate Wypych came to Chicago in 1983, four years after being ordained for the Archdiocese of Krakow, Poland. Bishop- designate Rojas was ordained for the Archdiocese of Chicago in 1997 after studying at a seminary in Mexico and University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary.

Bishop-designate Wypych will be responsible for administering Vicariate V, which includes much of the southwest of the archdiocese, and will be Cardinal George’s delegate to the Polish community in the archdiocese. Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller of San Antonio was the episcopal vicar for that area until last fall.

Bishop-designate Rojas will be responsible for Vicariate III, which includes the West and near Southwest and Northwest sides of Chicago, as well as serving as Cardinal George’s liaison to Hispanic Catholics. Auxiliary Bishop John Manz, who is currently administering Vicariates III and IV, will be episcopal vicar for Vicariate IV. Vicariate IV was the responsibility of Springfield Bishop Thomas Paprocki until last spring.

The two new bishops will likely be ordained and installed sometime in August.

Thankful, grateful

In his comments, Bishop-designate Wypych thanked the pope and the cardinal for their confidence and trust.

“I pledge my loyalty to His Holiness and also my prayers,” Bishop- designate Wypych said. “I would not become a bishop without the pastoral care of His Eminence Cardinal Francis George for this local church of the Archdiocese of Chicago, and in my particular case, for a segment of this church which is Polonia.”

Bishop-designate Rojas said he felt a “strong sense of gratitude” to God, for first of all calling him to the priesthood, and to the cardinal for his confidence and to his brother bishops for their support. All of Chicago’s active auxiliary bishops except Bishop Manz attended the announcement.

Bishop Manz was in Seattle for committee meetings in advance of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops general meeting later in the week. With the June 13 appointment, the number of auxiliary bishops in the archdiocese returns to 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.”

Bishop-designate Rojas has been pastor at Good Shepherd for less than a year after spending seven years as director of Hispanic ministry at Mundelein Seminary. He became pastor after Father Marco Mercado left the parish to become the archdiocesan director of the Office for Hispanic Catholics last July.

Mercado, who was ordained the year after Bishop-designate Rojas, said the new bishop is a good friend and a good pastor. A musician — the new bishop plays guitar and sings — and art aficionado, Bishop-designate Rojas was Mercado’s choice to become pastor of Good Shepherd.

Bishop-designate Wypych has served as associate pastor, pastor or administrator at several archdiocesan parishes. He has been pastor at St. Francis Borgia since 2002. Before that, he was at St. Pancratius Parish as associate pastor, administrator and pastor since 1986. He also served as administrator and then pastor of Five Holy Martyrs Parish while he was pastor at St. Pancratius.

Bishop-designate Wypych was ordained a deacon by the future Pope John Paul II in Krakow.

“It seems that God used me to make a history,” Bishop-designate Wypych said. “I was the first Polish priest incardinated to the Archdiocese of Chicago, I was the first pastor not ordained in the Archdiocese of Chicago and later I was the first pastor over two parishes at the same time — St. Pancratius and Five Holy Martyrs.”

Wypych said he is grateful that Cardinal George recognizes the needs of the archdiocese’s Polish community.

“I’m very happy that the cardinal has a vision recognizing the needs of Polonia,” he 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.”

A bit of advice

After the announcement, Auxiliary Bishops Joseph Perry and Francis Kane said they were very pleased with the choices for new auxiliary bishops. “My advice would be to just be good pastors,” said Bishop Kane. “And they are.”

Cardinal George said that when the pope is going to appoint auxiliary bishops, the ordinary of the diocese — in this case, him — submits names to the apostolic nuncio, along with suggestions of other priests, laypeople and religious to consult.

“That’s to make the consultation as broad as possible,” he said. “It can also make the process take a very long time.”

After the apostolic nuncio finishes his consultations, he forwards the information to the Congregation for Bishops in Rome, who examines the dossiers and forwards the information with its recommendations to the pope.