.- Pope Francis today appointed Fr. Andrew Cozzens, a priest of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, to be an auxiliary bishop for the same archdiocese.
“I am honored by our Holy Father’s appointment and look forward to serving this local Church as auxiliary bishop,” Fr. Cozzens said Oct. 11. “We are blessed with many active, faithful and vibrant parishes, Catholic schools and ministry organizations throughout the Archdiocese.”
“I am grateful for being called to assist them in their efforts to make the name of Jesus Christ known and loved.”
As auxiliary bishop, Fr. Cozzens will assist Archbishop John Nienstedt in the governance of the archdiocese. He will serve alongside Bishop Lee Piché, who was himself consecrated an auxiliary bishop in 2009.
“It will be a privilege for me to work with Archbishop Nienstedt. I also look forward to working with Bishop Piché, who provides such a good model of the special service of an auxiliary bishop,” Fr. Cozzens added.
According to the Saint Paul-Minneapolis archdiocese, Fr. Cozzens was born in 1968 in Denver, Colo., the youngest of three children, and studied at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kans. He came to Saint Paul through NET Ministries, where he served as a travelling missionary throughout the country.
He then entered seminary for the Saint Paul-Minneapolis archdiocese, and studied at St. Paul Seminary. He was ordained a priest in 1997, and served as a parish priest before entering a program of doctoral studies in Rome.
Fr. Cozzens earned a doctorate in dogmatic theology from the Angelicum, and has subsequently served as a formator, assistant professor, and worship director at St. Paul Seminary.
He is also a member of the mission advisory council of the Institute for Priestly Formation.
Fr. Cozzens is a founding member of the Companions of Christ, an association of diocesan priests committed to priestly fraternity and a common life, as well as the evangelical counsels.
Fr. Cozzens will be consecrated a bishop Dec. 9, on which day the feast of the Immaculate Conception will be celebrated. “I have a great devotion to Our Lady, so I’m very grateful for her intercession and prayers, and the opportunity to be ordained on her feast day is really a great thing,” Fr. Cozzens told The Catholic Spirit.
He also explained that he is “a firm believer that Jesus wants to heal … I just hope my ministry as a bishop will be part of the healing that flows from the heart of Jesus for people.”
Fr. Cozzens is active in Hispanic ministry in the archdiocese, being fluent in Spanish, and has also said it is important that clerics “have an evangelistic heart.”
Following a Mass said Oct. 11 celebrating the appointment, Fr. Cozzen's mother, Judy, told The Catholic Spirit that “I'm just praying for him. He's a holy, humble priest, and I just pray that he will be a holy, humble bishop.”
Archbishop Nienstedt stated, “I am thankful for the Holy Father’s gift of another bishop to serve the pastoral needs of this great Archdiocese, especially among our Latino community. I am fortunate to have bishop-elect Cozzens and Bishop Piché by my side to better serve the faithful of this local Church.”
The Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis covers more than 6,000 miles, and is served by 360 diocesan priests, and 84 religious. Of the 3.2 million persons in the archdiocese, 839,000, or 26 percent, are Catholic.
Also today, Pope Francis appointed Fr. Tsegaye Derera, vicar general of the Vicariate Apostolic of Nekemte and a priest of the Ethiopian Catholic Archeparchy of Addis Abeba, as coadjutor vicar apostolic of the Vicariate Apostolic of Soddo.