Father Betancourt, a seminary professor and pastor, named auxiliary bishop of Hartford

| September 18, 2018 | 0 Comments

Bishop-elect Betancourt prays during Mass at the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

Pope Francis has named a St. Paul pastor and seminary instructor as an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Hartford, Connecticut, the Holy See announced Sept. 18.

Bishop-elect Juan Miguel Betancourt Torres is pastor of St. Francis de Sales in St. Paul and teaches at the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity. He will be the eighth priest ordained an auxiliary bishop of Hartford upon his episcopal ordination 2 p.m. Oct. 18 at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Hartford.

Bishop-elect Betancourt

Born in 1970 in Ponce, Puerto Rico, Bishop-elect Betancourt is a priest of the Servants of the Holy Eucharist and of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a religious institute founded in 1981 in Puerto Rico with ties to the German Schoenstatt movement. He is the local superior of its St. Paul community, the Casa de San Jose.

“I am honored and grateful to be entrusted with this mission of service in the Lord’s Church,” Bishop-elect Betancourt, 48, said in a Sept. 18 statement from St. Paul Seminary. “My prayers are for my seminary family, for my parish family, and for my new family in the Archdiocese of Hartford.”

He is the associate academic dean and assistant professor of sacred Scripture at the St. Paul Seminary, where he has taught since 2008. According to the seminary, his areas of teaching and research include the Old and New Testaments, scriptural preaching, and preaching the Catholic social tradition. He taught in the University of St. Thomas’ theology program from 2006 to 2009.

“I have known Father Juan Miguel Betancourt for almost 15 years to be a man of deep prayer and a joyful servant in everything he does,” Bishop Andrew Cozzens, the seminary’s interim rector, said in its statement. “His love for the study of sacred Scripture and his gifts for teaching will be a great blessing for his new episcopal ministry. He is a man who desires to be a servant in all he does, as is reflected in the name of his religious community the Servants of the Eucharist and Mary. We will miss the dedication, his wisdom in formation of men, and his joyful Puerto Rican spirit!”

Father Betancourt, right, stands with Msgr. Aloysius Callaghan, center, the seminary’s rector emeritus, and fellow seminary Scripture professor Father Scott Carl. Dave Hrbacek

Bishop-elect Betancourt earned a bachelor’s degree in natural sciences from the University of Puerto Rico in 1992, the same year he entered the Servants of the Holy Eucharist and the Blessed Virgin Mary. He professed religious vows in 1994 and was ordained a priest in 2001.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in theological studies in 2000 and a master of divinity degree in 2002, both from the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico. In 2005, he received his sacred Scripture licentiate from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome, where he wrote his thesis on “King David’s Flight: A Story Made Theology.”

Prior to teaching at St. Paul Seminary, he was a professor of sacred Scripture at the Pontifical University of Puerto Rico and a professor of sacred Scripture at Regina Cleri Major Seminary in Puerto Rico from 2005 to 2006.

Bishop-elect Betancourt has been a board member of the National Conference for Seminarians in Hispanic Ministry since 2009 and a liaison for foreign seminarians at the St. Paul Seminary since 2008. This year, the St. Paul Seminary enrolled 89 seminarians from 14 dioceses and one religious community. Among the seminarians is a man from the Diocese of Kabale, Uganda.

He also has served on the archdiocese’s presbyteral council.

“The Archdiocese of Hartford will be truly blessed to have Father Juan Miguel as an auxiliary bishop,” Archbishop Bernard Hebda said in the seminary’s statement. “His sharp intellect, pastoral heart and joyful spirit suggest that the Lord has long been preparing him for this new ministry as a successor to the apostles. While he will be sorely missed at St. Francis de Sales parish and at the St. Paul Seminary, where he has served with distinction, I rejoice with the Church of Hartford at this appointment.”

In 2006, Bishop-elect Betancourt and two other members of his religious community arrived in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis at the request of Archbishop Harry Flynn, who was then leading the archdiocese. Archbishop Flynn met then-Father Betancourt while the priest was studying in Rome.

In St. Paul, the Servants of the Holy Eucharist and the Blessed Virgin Mary were assigned to what was then St. Francis de Sales and St. James, two parishes in St. Paul’s West Seventh neighborhood. As pastor, Bishop-elect Betancourt oversaw the parish’s 2011 merger into a single parish, St. Francis de Sales.

Bishop-elect Betancourt is the son of Miguel and Gloria Betancourt. He has two younger siblings, Gloria and Glorimar.

He has been assigned the titular see of Curzola. Catholic News Service describes a titular diocese as “a former diocese, now nonexistent, to which a bishop is given honorary title if he is not the residential bishop of a diocese or archdiocese. Auxiliary bishops and most bishops in Vatican service have titular sees. Most titular sees are ancient cities of northern Africa, the Middle East or Spain that had to be abandoned as bishoprics because of schism or, especially in the Middle Ages, Islamic rule.”  Curzola is a Croatian island in the Adriatic Sea.

As an auxiliary bishop, Bishop-elect Betancourt will assist Archbishop Leonard Blair, who has led the Archdiocese of Hartford since 2013. Also serving the archdiocese are Auxiliary Bishop Christie Macaluso and Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Peter Rosazza, as well as Archbishop Blair’s two predecessors, Bishop Henry Mansell and Bishop Daniel Cronin, archbishops emeriti.

“The appointment of Father Betancourt is a cause of rejoicing not only for me personally, but for all our clergy, religious and laity,” Archbishop Blair said in a statement. “For me and for our clergy, it means the welcome arrival of a dedicated co-worker in the Lord’s vineyard who brings a variety of talent and experience to our shared ministry. For the laity, Father Betancourt’s Hispanic/Latino heritage will only enhance the pastoral care that he will exercise for the good of every race and ethnicity. For those in religious life, Father Betancourt’s membership in the Society of the Servants of the Eucharist and Mary only serves to underscore the value and contribution that consecrated religious men and women make to the good of the Church.”

Notably, the Archdiocese of Hartford’s first auxiliary bishop was its native son Bishop John Gregory Murray, who later served as archbishop of St. Paul from 1931 until his death in 1956.

The Hartford archdiocese is 2,288 square miles in western and central Connecticut, with more than 1.9 million people. About 27 percent of its population is Catholic.


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