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Bishop Cozzens named bishop of Crookston

By Maria Wiering

Pope Francis has named Bishop Andrew Cozzens the bishop of Crookston, the papal nuncio to the U.S. announced Oct. 18. The bishop-designate has served as an auxiliary bishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis since 2013. 

Bishop Cozzens, 53, was ordained a priest of St. Paul and Minneapolis in 1997 and served as a parochial vicar at the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul (1997-2000) and the then-Faribault Catholic Community (now Divine Mercy in Faribault) (2000-2002) before pursuing a doctorate in sacred theology at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome, finishing in 2008. From 2006 to his episcopal ordination, he was a professor of sacramental theology and formator at The St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul. He was ordained a bishop Dec. 9, 2013, on the transferred Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, at the Cathedral of St. Paul. 

“I am grateful to Our Holy Father for entrusting to me this important mission and my heart is already filled with love for the faithful, the priests, and the religious of the Diocese of Crookston,” he said in a statement from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis Oct. 18. “I have great excitement for this opportunity to serve.” 

His installation as the eighth bishop of Crookston will take place 1 p.m. Dec. 6 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Crookston. 

A native of Denver, Bishop Cozzens was born Aug. 3, 1968. He is the son of Jack and Judy Cozzens and the youngest of three children. He attended Catholic grade school, high school and college. He is a graduate of Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, where he grew in faith through the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. 

Prior to entering seminary, Bishop Cozzens served from 1991 to 1992 as a team leader of NET (National Evangelization Teams) Ministries, a traveling missionary outreach to youth. His first NET Ministries assignment was to the Crookston diocese. The following academic year, he served as a co-director of campus outreach of St. Paul’s Outreach, a college campus ministry. Both NET and SPO are headquartered in the Twin Cities. 

As he discerned priesthood, Bishop Cozzens and a small group of other men formed the Companions of Christ, a fraternal community of priests and seminarians that has since established communities in the Archdiocese of Denver and Diocese of Joliet, Illinois. The organization received canonical recognition in 1992. 

As an auxiliary bishop, Bishop Cozzens has assisted Archbishop Bernard Hebda in leading the archdiocese and has been at the helm of several initiatives, including as chairman of the executive team for the 2022 Archdiocesan Synod, a process that began in 2019. He has served as vicar for Catholic Education and overseen the archdiocesan offices of Latino Ministry, Evangelization, and Marriage, Family and Life. 

He served as interim rector of The St. Paul Seminary from June 2018 until January 2019 and has long been a leader in national efforts to strengthen seminary formation.  In 2015 he began working to form the Seminary Formation Council, which now sponsors a two-year certificate in formation. He serves as the president of its board of directors. 

Bishop Cozzens is also the president of the corporate board for the Institute for Priestly Formation in Omaha, Nebraska. 

He is chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis, and in that position is leading a three-year National Eucharistic Revival that will begin in June. He also serves as chairman of the board of NET Ministries and St. Paul’s Outreach. 

“The Diocese of Crookston extends a heartfelt welcome to our new shepherd, Bishop Andrew Cozzens,” said the Bishop Richard Pates, Apostolic Administrator for the Diocese of Crookston. “He brings an engaging pastoral spirit, extensive experience, positive energy and will soon have the smell of the sheep of Northwest Minnesota on his person. May his days among us be especially blessed.”

Bishop Cozzens succeeds Bishop Michael Hoeppner, whose resignation was accepted by Pope Francis on April 13.