New bishop named
Pope appoints Rassas as Chicago auxiliary
By Michelle Martin
Father George Rassas, vicar general of the Archdiocese of Chicago, will become an auxiliary bishop for the archdiocese.
The appointment was announced by the Vatican Dec. 1, and the bishop-designate was introduced at a Dec. 1 press conference. He is to be ordained a bishop Feb. 2 at Holy Name Cathedral.
“I’m grateful to all those who have prayed for me, who have mentored me, who have encouraged me to be a better person and a better priest, and I hope there will be many more who will help to be a good bishop. I’m mindful of the words of St. Augustine, who said, “for you I’m a bishop, but with you I’m a Christian.”
Bishop-designate Rassas, a native of Baltimore, attended Ss. Faith, Hope and Charity School, Quigley Preparatory Seminary, Niles College and Mundelein Seminary before being ordained a priest in 1968.
He served as an associate pastor at Queen of the Rosary, Elk Grove Village; St. Genevieve, Chicago; St. Norbert, Northbrook; and Sacred Heart, Hubbard Woods, before being named pastor of St. Mary Parish in Lake Forest in 1990. He served there until becoming vicar general last year.
“Having been a pastor many years, that’s how I expected I would finish my ministry,” Bishop-designate Rassas said, adding that when Cardinal George asked him to become vicar general, the cardinal told him not to expect that he would necessarily become a bishop.
However, the bishop-designate’s resume includes several archdiocesan administrative positions as well, including associate director of Catholic Family Consultation Service and Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women, director of the Office for Family Ministries and chairman of the Archdiocesan Presbyteral Council.
He is also a founding board member chairman of St. Martin de Porres High School in Waukegan.
Bishop-designate Rassas said Thanksgiving proved difficult, as he knew of his appointment but could not share the news with his family. When he told his parents Nov. 30, he said they were thrilled.
The bishop-to-be is the oldest of the six children of George J. Rassas and Frances McGuire Rassas of Winnetka. His father, the son of Greek immigrants, was raised in the Greek Orthodox Church and became Catholic when he attended the University of Notre Dame on a football scholarship. His parents met when his father was injured during a game and was treated at Chicago’s Mercy Hospital by his maternal grandfather, an Irish Catholic doctor who suggested his daughter visit the boy from Notre Dame who had no family in the area.
“He says he became Catholic before he met my mother, and I believe him because he’s still alive and still bigger than me,” Rassas said.
He is the fourth generation of priests from his mother’s side of the family, including former pastors of St. Margaret of Scotland and St. James Parish (Wabash).
“With my predecessors, I hope to serve the archdiocese very well,” he said.
Cardinal George said he expects the new bishop will do well.
“He is someone who is known to the people and the priests and the religious of the archdiocese because he has served in the archdiocese for many years,” he said. “He brings great credibility to his new office.”
The cardinal also said he did not know if more auxiliary bishops will be announced in the near future.
Vicariate I, the area that includes Lake County and northwest suburban Cook County, has been led by Carmelite Father Farrell Kane since Bishop Jerome Listecki became bishop of LaCrosse, Wis., earlier this year.