New St. Paul-Minneapolis auxiliary bishop told to make ‘Mary Magdalene and Peter’ his models for following Jesus

By Joe Ruff | OSV News

ST. PAUL, Minn. (OSV News) — More than 2,500 people filled the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul, Minnesota, on a sunny and warm April 11 to celebrate the episcopal ordination Mass of Bishop Michael J. Izen, and his appointment as auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

“How wonderful to have all of you here as we celebrate the ordination of our newest auxiliary,” said Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda, consecrator and principal celebrant of the Mass. “I’ve never prayed before that we would have a larger cathedral, but we could have used one today.”

As the temperature climbed comfortably into the 70s, Archbishop Hebda noted in his homily that Bishop Izen must be particularly loved by God. Co-consecrator Bishop Andrew H. Cozzens of Crookston, Minnesota, was ordained and assigned as an auxiliary bishop to St. Paul and Minneapolis when it was minus 2, the archbishop said. Co-consecrator and Auxiliary Bishop Joseph A. Williams was ordained when it was minus 4, and the archbishop received the pallium as having metropolitan jurisdiction when it was minus 11.

“That’s 86 degrees colder than it is today,” the archbishop said to laughter. “You get the picture. Bishop-elect Izen is clearly loved by the Lord.”

About 16 bishops concelebrated the Mass, mostly from Minnesota and surrounding states, including Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States. Priests of the archdiocese also concelebrated, and the procession included members of the Knights of Columbus, Knights of Peter Claver and Ladies Auxiliary, and the Knights and Dames of the Sovereign Order of Malta.

Bishop Izen helped lead a decade of the rosary his siblings and the congregation recited before the Mass.

Archbishop Pierre, who read the mandate from Pope Francis for Bishop Izen’s ordination and appointment to St. Paul and Minneapolis, and the titular see of Newport in South Wales, noted the bishop’s studies in mathematics and computer science.

“But you never calculated that you would be elected bishop,” Archbishop Pierre said with humor. While students from St. Croix Catholic will miss the bishop, he will now “be able to share his care for the people of God with all the faithful of the archdiocese.”

According to The Catholic Spirit, the newspaper for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, the Catholic Churches of St. Michael and St. Mary, and St. Croix Catholic School in Stillwater, and Church of St. Charles in Bayport, Minnesota, are the last parishes and school Bishop Izen, 56, served in his 18 years as a priest of the archdiocese. Other schools were part of parishes Divine Mercy in Faribault, St. Timothy in Maple Lake and St. Raphael in Crystal, Minnesota. Teachers and students in each school said Bishop Izen knew everyone by name, and he enjoyed giving nicknames to many.

Bishop Izen had commented in the past about feeling trepidation in being named a bishop. Archbishop Hebda and Archbishop Pierre talked of his openness and humility in expressing that, and yet his courage in going forward by trusting the church.

“You said you were a little terrified of being a bishop,” Archbishop Pierre said. “It is OK to be a little bit terrified. But just a little bit, by the way.”

Bishop Izen exuded only joy as he walked with a broad smile through the Cathedral with mandate in hand, displaying it for the congregation as people responded with sustained applause.

In his homily, Archbishop Hebda noted that the readings for the Mass of the day — Tuesday in the Octave of Easter — “speak volumes to a newly ordained bishop and to the Church that he is called to serve.”

Auxiliary Bishop Michael Izen shows the papal mandate from the Apostolic See as he walks through the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul, Minn., during his episcopal ordination April 11, 2023. (OSV News photo/Dave Hrbacek, Catholic Spirit)

“They give him two wonderful companions from this day forward in his episcopal ministry — Mary Magdalene and Peter,” the archbishop said. “It is interesting that they are both disciples who are well aware of their own weaknesses. We know from John’s Gospel that Peter knew deeply Jesus’ forgiveness after he denied him.”

One saint holds that seven demons afflicted Mary Magdalene until she was healed by Jesus, the archbishop said.

“So aware of their own frailties, they knew that Christ loved them gratuitously. It’s not an earned love, but a love that pours forth spontaneously from the heart of Jesus. And it’s a love that changes everything,” Archbishop Hebda said. “It’s Jesus’ love that gave them both courage to carry out the mission that Jesus entrusted to them.”

“No matter how unworthy you feel or how inadequately prepared you fear you may be, the Lord is calling you, as he did Mary Magdalene and Peter, to rely on his strength rather than on your weakness,” the archbishop told Bishop Izen. “You’ve done that beautifully in your many years of priestly service and I trust that will continue. It’s crucial that you keep before your eyes the tender encounters that you have had with the Lord.”

He added, “I know that you are a man of prayer and have made prayer a priority in your preaching. No matter how great the demands of your work may be, I hope that you’ll never allow your work to get in the way of your relationship with the Lord, who alone is our strength.”

After the homily, Archbishop Hebda queried Bishop Izen with the Promise of the Elect, asking a series of questions including whether he was resolved to preach the Gospel faithfully and unfailingly, to guard the deposit of the faith, build up the body of Christ and encourage the people of God.

Responding “I do” and “I do, with the help of God,” Bishop Izen then prostrated himself before the altar for the Litany of Supplication of the saints before the laying on of hands by the archbishop and other bishops present, the prayer of ordination, anointing of the head, receiving the Book of the Gospels, the ring of office, the miter upon his head and the crosier in his hand.

After Communion, Bishop Izen addressed the congregation and then walked through the assembly, imparting his episcopal blessing on everyone present.

“He is risen,” Bishop Izen said as he opened his remarks. “My Lebanese grandmother used to say that every Easter.”

Thanking all present and God first and foremost, Bishop Izen said the receiving line for a blessing outside under a large tent with cake, coffee and other refreshments was likely to be long, but he would be there as long as people wished.

“God bless you all,” he said. “Thank you.”

Author: OSV News

OSV News is a national and international wire service reporting on Catholic issues and issues that affect Catholics.

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