Pope Taps Raven Pro-Life Leader As Diocesan Bishop

On Oct 18, Pope Francis appointed Bishop Andrew Cozzens as the bishop of the diocese of Crookston, Minnesota.

Bishop Cozzens graduated from Benedictine College in Atchison, Kanas, in 1991— one of seven Raven bishops in the 21st century. 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. He currently serves as an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis.

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.

In 2014, Bishop Cozens celebrated the Opening School Mass at the schools Academic Convocation.

“The Father in Heaven is looking down upon you,” he told students. “And in his heart is a great desire, and the desire is to pour out His Holy Spirit upon you and upon this whole campus.”

“God created you to do him some definite service,” he added. “I don’t know what that is, but he knows what it is. And he wants to reveal it to you.”

His advice comes from experience. Cozzens was an English major on campus and a pro-life leader, helping start the yearly March for Life trip to Washington, D.C., and the Ravens Respect Life club on campus. His commitment to the right to life also comes from experience. Doctors once counseled his mother to abort him.

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

After running some tests, the doctor said, “I need to tell you that your child is severely deformed,” and told the parents they should end the pregnancy by abortion.

“Absolutely not,” his mother answered.

The doctor retorted: “You don’t get it. This child is a freak.”

“I don’t care,” said Mrs. Cozzens.

His parents consulted a second doctor who said the baby would be fine, “If you’re willing to lie in bed for the rest of this pregnancy.”

The Cozzens agreed but said they would have a hard time paying for a months-long stay in the hospital. That’s not a problem, said the new doctor. He had bet the first doctor that the mom would deliver a healthy and normal child. Whoever lost the bet would pay the bill for the extended stay.

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

Because of this, when he was a child, 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.”

The friends who helped lead Ravens Respect Life then are helping lead the Church today. They include St. Benedict Abbey’s Abbot James Albers, ’94; St. Benedict Parish Pastor Father Jeremy Hepler, ’00; Father Brendan Rolling, ’99, who was chaplain of Benedictine College for years; and Omaha Archdiocese’s Father Joseph Taphorn, ’93.

Saint Paul and Minneapolis Archbishop Bernard Hebda praised Cozzens’ “huge heart, sharp intellect, and unfailing love for Christ and his Church” and “the extraordinary priestly gifts that have long been recognized by the priests and faithful of this Archdiocese.”

Bishop Cozzens is looking to his own mother — and Jesus’s. “My prayer is: ‘Mary, don’t let go of my hand,’ and I sense that she’s not going to,” he has said. “She’s going to keep holding my hand as I try to follow Jesus as a bishop.”

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.

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Benedictine College

Founded in 1858, Benedictine College is a Catholic, Benedictine, residential, liberal arts college located on the bluffs above the Missouri River in Atchison, Kansas. The school is proud to have been named one of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report as well as one of the top Catholic colleges in the nation by First Things magazine and the Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College. It prides itself on outstanding academics, extraordinary faith life, strong athletic programs, and an exceptional sense of community and belonging. It has a mission to educate men and women within a community of faith and scholarship.