“Just seeing them love each other, and — being the youngest — I got to see that in my last few years of high school when I was the only one in the house: how much my dad loved my mom and my mom loved my dad,” he said.
His father lacked a college education but was a reader of Thomas à Kempis’ ”The Imitation of Christ” and the autobiography of St. John XXIII. His mother was “very devotional,” and dedicated to the Mass and the family rosary.
Izen described himself as an introvert, a tendency which the pastor at his first assignment as a priest deliberately sought to counter.
“I remember he told me at coffee and donuts once, he said: ‘Izen, you have to go say ‘hi’ to every table before you sit down and have a donut.’ And so I still do that today,” the bishop-designate recounted.
Izen said he had never viewed himself as a bishop, but he also realized “that I would never say ‘no’ to the Church.”
Izen grew up in Fairmont and attended St. John Vianney grade school and Fairmont High School, from which he graduated in 1985. He earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and computer science at St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota. After working for nine years as a systems analyst for 3M, he decided to discern a vocation to the priesthood. He earned a master’s of divinity at the St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul and was ordained a priest on May 28, 2005, by Archbishop Harry J. Flynn.
Following ordination, he served at Divine Mercy Catholic Church in Faribault until 2007, when he became pastor at St. Timothy in Maple Lake. Five years later, he became pastor at St. Raphael in Crystal, where he served until 2015, when he was assigned to Stillwater. He has also worked in Hispanic ministry and post-abortion outreach.
The archdiocese covers 12 counties of eastern Minnesota. There are about 750,000 Catholics in the archdiocese out of a total population of 3.5 million.
Another priest of the archdiocese, Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Williams, was ordained to serve the archdiocese in January 2022.