Pope Names

Pope Francis Taps Raven To Lead Minnesota Diocese

Most Reverend Andrew H. CozzensOn Oct 18, Pope Francis appointed Bishop Andrew Cozzens as the bishop of Crookston, Minnesota.

Cozzens is a 1991 graduate of Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, making him one of seven 21st-century Raven bishops. Cozzens was influential in the pro-life movement on campus and after graduation, Crookston was one of the first places he served after college with NET Ministries.

“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,” Bishop Cozzens said of his appointment.

Bishop Cozzens was the Commencement Speaker for Benedictine College last May.

“I am not alone in my opinion that Benedictine is truly one of the premier Catholic Colleges of the 21st century,” he told graduates. He credited the college’s Catholic identity.

“This is the love which Jesus Christ revealed to us when he gave his life for you on the Cross,” he said. “If you surrender your life to this love, day in and day out … not only will you possess the secret of joy in this life, but you will fulfill your part in God’s plan and receive from him the joy of eternal life.”

Cozzens was an English major on campus and left a legacy in the right-to-life movement, helping start the yearly March for Life trip to Washington, D.C., and the Ravens Respect Life pro-life club on campus.

His pro-life commitment is very personal.  Growing up, Bishop Cozzens mother would tell him, “God saved your life because he has a plan for you and your job is to find out what that plan is.”

He explained what happened. “When my mom was only 20 weeks pregnant with me, her water broke and she went immediately to the hospital,” he said. “She and my father spent a night in prayer that they would not lose the baby.”

After running some tests, the doctor said, “I need to tell you that your child is severely deformed.” He recommended ending the pregnancy.

Mrs. Cozzens said, “Absolutely not.”

“You don’t get it,” the doctor answered, “this child is a freak.”

“I don’t care,” she answered.

A second doctor said she could have the baby, “If you’re willing to lie in bed for the rest of this pregnancy.”

The Cozzens agreed but worried about one thing: how would they pay for a months-long hospital stay not covered by insurance? The new doctor said not to worry. He had made a bet with the first doctor that she would deliver a healthy and normal child; whichever doctor lost the bet would pay.

“When the second doctor delivered me, he told the nurse to go get the other doctor and tell him to see his ‘little freak,’” laughed Bishop Cozzens.

Many of the students who led Ravens Respect Life then are leaders in the Church today, including St. Benedict Abbey’s Abbot James Albers, ’94; St. Benedict Parish Pastor Father Jeremy Hepler, ’00; Father Brendan Rolling, ’99, who served for many years as chaplain of Benedictine College; and Father Joseph Taphorn, ’93, who helps lead the Archdiocese of Omaha.

Saint Paul and Minneapolis Archbishop Bernard Hebda said of Bishop Cozzens’ appointment: “I am not surprised that Pope Francis would have seen in him the extraordinary priestly gifts that have long been recognized by the priests and faithful of this Archdiocese.”

He praised Cozzens’ “huge heart, sharp intellect, and unfailing love for Christ and his Church.”

Cozzens, who has a long history with the college outreach effort St. Paul’s Outreach, was ordained in 1997 for the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. He served as parochial vicar at the Cathedral of Saint Paul and then Faribault Catholic Community (now Divine Mercy) before beginning doctoral studies in Rome. For four years during his time in Rome, he served as chaplain for the Missionaries of Charity. He was an instructor and formator at Saint Paul Seminary when Pope Francis appointed him as auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis in 2013.

“After almost 25 years of serving in the Archdiocese, I have immense love and gratitude for the innumerable ways the people, priests, religious and bishops have blessed and formed my life,” Bishop Cozzens said. “The life of the Church in the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis is vibrant and, in many ways, unparalleled in our country.”

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