Future bishop’s faith nurtured by St. Paul’s Outreach

| Susan Klemond | December 18, 2013 | 0 Comments
Bishop Andrew Cozzens, center, is pictured with Randy Lehnen, left, and Father Jim Perkl at one of St. Paul’s Outreach’s monthly Masses during the 1992-1993 school year.  Photo courtesy of St. Paul’s Outreach

Bishop Andrew Cozzens, center, is pictured with Randy Lehnen, left, and Father Jim Perkl at one of St. Paul’s Outreach’s monthly Masses during the 1992-1993 school year. Photo courtesy of St. Paul’s Outreach

After his sophomore year of college, Andrew Cozzens wasn’t about to take a break. Instead, he moved into a house in St. Paul with about 10 men and spent the summer growing in his Catholic faith as part of a St. Paul’s Outreach summer household.

He and his housemates worked day jobs while sharing in daily life, prayer and apostolic work.

“The seeds of his faith were certainly nurtured and grew there,” said Father Kevin Finnegan, while also acknowledging the role Bishop Cozzens’ family played in his faith formation.

Father Finnegan, now pastor of Divine Mercy in Faribault, lived in the household with Bishop Cozzens, and then later when they were seminarians and priests.

As Bishop Cozzens himself has said, his summer in the household was transformational, said Gordy DeMarais, SPO founder and executive director.

“Most notably he learned the practice and discipline of daily prayer, which allowed him to hear and discern his vocational calling,” DeMarais said. “He also found himself surrounded by other young men who were striving to live fully their lives as disciples of Jesus Christ and respond to his call to evangelize.”

Zeal for life

Founded in 1985, West-St.-Paul-based SPO invites college students to a life of Christian discipleship, challenging them to deepen their relationship with Christ in the fullness of the Catholic Church.

Along with spiritual growth, there also was time for fun in summer household. “He’s great to live with,” Father Finnegan said. “A lot of laughter.”

Regarding Bishop Cozzens’ nut allergy, Father Finnegan said “we were always trying to make sure there was no peanut butter near him. Of course,” he joked, “if he said something you didn’t like, you’d just throw a jar of peanut butter at him.”

In household, Bishop Cozzens recognized his need for others to help him grow in holiness, Father Finnegan said. His zeal as a Christian and rock climber also was evident. “He may have been ‘small’ physically but his zeal for life, his commitment for life, his enthusiasm for life knew no bounds, including jumping off the sides of mountains.”

Bishop Cozzens also lived in household the following summer. After graduating from Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan., he served a year with NET Ministries and returned to work with students for SPO as co-director of campus outreach.

Since becoming a priest, Bishop Cozzens has regularly presided at SPO liturgies, heard confessions and taught in SPO training programs. Serving on the SPO board of directors since 2011, he recently was elected board president.

Now a national Catholic campus movement, SPO has grown fourfold in scope and breadth in the past eight years, DeMarais said. SPO now has mission centers on various campuses in Minnesota, Ohio, New Jersey, Kansas, Texas, Arizona, and Florida. “We anticipate continued blessing and growth under the leadership of Bishop Cozzens,” he said.

 

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Category: Bishop Cozzens