‘Thanks be to God’: Bishop Cozzens ordained

| December 19, 2013 | 0 Comments
Archbishop Nienstedt lays hands on Bishop Cozzens.

Archbishop Nienstedt lays hands on Bishop Cozzens.

What began in prayerful reflection ended in jubilant celebration as auxiliary Bishop Andrew Cozzens was ordained in a packed Cathedral of St. Paul Dec. 9 on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Con­­ception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

In his remarks to the assembly of local faithful, clergy members and visiting bishops, Bishop Cozzens continued the Marian theme of the Mass, referencing the feast day and the motto he chose, “Praebe nobis cor tuum” (“Mary, lend us your heart”).

“Let us turn our eyes to Mary because she’s the one who was conceived without sin,” he said. “Sometimes we might think that makes her far from us or different from us. But we know it’s actually sin that separates us from one another. Because Mary is sinless, she’s even closer to us.

“Let us ask her to lend us her heart, so that we may love Jesus with the same humility and purity that she has, so that we might learn to love the way she loves, which is the way Jesus loves.”

In his Spanish address, Bishop Cozzens told Hispanics that the feast day also was the Feast of St. Juan Diego, whom Our Lady called “the smallest of our sons.” Bishop Cozzens said that he sometimes felt that way, and they might, too, as a minority group. But, he said, what’s beautiful about that is he or she is the most loved, and in knowing so, is holy.

Archbishop John Nienstedt, principal consecrator and celebrant, led the congregation in verses from “Ave Maria” at the start of his homily and said that, just as God had a plan for Mary, he has a plan for the rest of the world, including Bishop Cozzens, who now faces “quite a job description.”

“The title of bishop is one of service, not honor,” Archbishop Nienstedt said. “In that context, the bishop is to minister to the Word of God in season and out.”

“The Church reminds every bishop to follow the example of the Good Shepherd, not only for the 99 that remain in the sheep pen, but also for the one or more who have wandered away because they were misinformed or weak, marginalized or a stranger, no longer practicing or alienated for whatever reason,” he said. “The bishop, because he is Catholic, has a universal perspective on his mission of evangelization. He is called to witness the truth of the Catholic faith on behalf of those who are Catholic, non-Catholic and even non-believers. None of these must escape his notice or his pastoral concern.”

Both Archbishop Nienstedt and Bishop Cozzens condemned the clergy sexual misconduct that has come to light recently and called for healing and justice. Bishop Cozzens said the sinful members of the Church do not change the holiness of the Church, which has Christ as its foundation.

“You and I must seek to live the fullness of the truth of the Gospel that Jesus Christ reveals,” he said. “You and I must seek to become like Jesus. . . . When we have the love of Jesus in our hearts, then we can love like Jesus.”

Archbishop Emeritus Harry Flynn of St. Paul and Minneapolis and Bishop Paul Sirba of Duluth served as co-consecrators at the Mass. Father Thomas Margevicius, an instructor at St. Paul Seminary, and Father Jon Vander Ploeg, pastor of St. Lawrence and the Newman Center in Minneapolis, assisted Bishop Cozzens as chaplains.

Pope Francis appointed Bishop Cozzens, 45, as an auxiliary bishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis on Oct. 11. He joins Bishop Lee Piché, the archdiocese’s other auxiliary bishop, in assisting Archbishop Nienstedt in the leadership of the archdiocese.

The faithful rejoice

Attendees included those from the many groups Bishop Cozzens has been involved with throughout his 16-year tenure as an archdiocesan priest and his seven and a half years at the St. Paul Seminary.

Bishop Cozzens said that as he went around the Cathedral at the end of the Mass to offer his blessing, he saw many friendly faces from various times in his life.

“I was so touched by the many people that came,” Bishop Cozzens said later. “It was a real gift to experience their support. During the ceremony, I felt as if I was being carried by the prayers of all the people and the saints of the Church. I sensed a lot of peace and the loving presence of Mary and the Blessed Trinity.”

Two bus loads of youth from Divine Mercy parish in Faribault — many of them Bethlehem Academy students attending a bishop’s ordination for the first time — said they were in awe of the pomp and circumstance and were glad Bishop Cozzens had a connection to their parish. He served as parochial vicar from 2000 to 2002 at what was then named the Faribault Catholic Community.

Father Brian Park, parochial vicar at St. Charles Borromeo in St. Anthony, served alongside Father John Paul Erickson as emcee at the Mass. Father Park studied under Bishop Cozzens at the St. Paul Seminary and lived with him for two years as a fellow member of the Companions of Christ, a fraternity of diocesan priests (see story, page 8B)

Because he has organized large liturgical events, Father Park offered his assistance for the ordination when Bishop Cozzens’ appointment was announced.

“It was a tremendous honor to be there right with [Bishop Cozzens] and serve at the Mass,” said Father Park, who was ordained in May. “I want to be a priest like Bishop Cozzens. He’s been a great role model and inspiration — for other seminarians, too. He’s a holy, joyful priest. But at the same time, he’s incredibly humble. He wants to help every person he encounters to know and love Jesus even more.”

Tatiana Petefish, a friend of Bishop Cozzens, was disappointed she couldn’t attend the ordination Mass. But thanks to the new bishop, she was able to watch it live via online streaming at the nursing home where she lives, Cerenity Care Center in St. Paul. He had arranged for someone to bring in a computer and sit with her during the streaming in case any technical glitches prevented her from seeing it.

“I feel very much valued, and kind of shocked that [other priests] called over here to set up the live stream,” Petefish said. “I’m not used to people making that kind of fuss about me. I just couldn’t believe that he persevered to see that it happened no matter what. I absolutely loved seeing him be ordained and the sheer delight on his face as he sat in the bishop’s chair for the first time.”

Answering his call

The reception at the Crowne Plaza St. Paul-Riverfront in St. Paul following the ordination didn’t signal the end of Bishop Cozzens’ busy schedule. The next morning, he celebrated Mass with the Carmelite sisters and brothers. Then, he visited people at Sharing and Caring Hands, where he washed their feet.

“[It] was a great joy to do [that] on my first day as a bishop, especially since Pope Francis told me in the mandate to ‘passionately love the poor,’” he said. The Papal Mandate is the order given by the pope to consecrate a bishop.

His first week as bishop also included Mass and visiting classrooms at Holy Family Church and Holy Family Academy in St. Louis Park, where his nieces and nephews attend, and at other area parishes.

“[I returned] to my old parish in Faribault for a thanksgiving celebration with the whole parish, most especially the Hispanic community, which celebrates 20 years in Faribault this year,” he said.

Bishop Cozzens’ primary duties will entail special care in Spanish ministry.

More on Bishop Cozzens’ Ordination


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