By Mark Abrams

VATICAN CITY (CBS) — A Priest from Connecticut is the man who took over the duties as “English-language voice of the Vatican” from a beloved Philadelphia native.

Monsignor Tom Powers is from the Diocese of Bridgeport and works in the Vatican’s Congregation of Bishops office. In 2009, when Philadelphia’s Cardinal John Foley – the voice of Christmas Midnight Mass – decided to give up the job after 25 years – Powers was tapped to take over. He says he couldn’t have done it without Foley’s help and blessing.

“He was very kind to me during this transition, too,” Powers says. “And I spoke to him, of course, immediately when I found out they wanted me to do this and he was very supportive and happy and encouraging. And, so, I’m grateful to him always for his goodness especially during that time when I was nervous to take on this role.”

Foley passed away in December 2011. Powers says while he can never fill the late cardinal’s shoes, he tries to conduct himself as his world-famous predecessor – helping the pope to bring the word of God to millions through the annual television broadcasts at Christmas.

“It’s just been a great honor to follow in the footsteps of Cardinal Foley, a great Philadelphian – loved by Philadelphia and worldwide,” he says. “And, again, it’s a great honor to even be associated with him. He was a good man and a friend and we love him dearly still.”

Powers will deliver the English language commentary for Pope Francis’ inaugural Mass from St. Peter’s Square on Tuesday.

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