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Pope Francis names local pastor next St. Paul and Minneapolis auxiliary bishop

By Joe Ruff 
OSV News 

Pope Francis named Father Michael John Izen, a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis who has ministered in parishes and as a pastor in his nearly 18 years of priesthood, as the next auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese. 

Bishop-elect Izen, 55, will serve with Archbishop Bernard Hebda and Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Williams to lead the church in a 12-county metropolitan area that encompasses the Twin Cities and is home to about 725,000 Catholics.

Pope Francis names Father Michael John Izen, a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis who has ministered in parishes and as a pastor in his nearly 18 years of priesthood, as the next auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese. Bishop-elect Izen, 55, is pictured in a Jan. 5, 2022, photo. (OSV News photo/Dave Hrbacek, Catholic Spirit)

His ordination is scheduled for April 11 at the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul. 

“I was surprised, humbled, and a little terrified when I received the call from the Apostolic Nuncio [Archbishop Christophe Pierre], informing me that Pope Francis had appointed me as an auxiliary bishop,” Bishop-elect Izen said. “Archbishop Hebda has been very supportive and reassuring since I first received the news — very fatherly. I look forward to being an extension of him to our archdiocese and serving and being present to the people of God.” 

Archbishop Hebda said he welcomes the news, announced Jan. 5, with “deep gratitude to Pope Francis and Christmas joy.” 

“The priests and the faithful of the archdiocese should be honored that once again the Holy Father has chosen a priest of this local Church to serve as a successor of the apostles,” the archbishop said in a statement. “I have come to know Bishop-elect Izen as a generous and capable pastor with a great love for Christ and for his sheep. I have particularly admired his ability to collaborate effectively with brother priests, religious sisters, and lay leadership in advancing the work of the Church.” 

A native of Fairmont in southern Minnesota, Bishop-elect Izen has been pastor the last seven years of the churches of St. Michael and St. Mary in Stillwater. He also is the parochial administrator of St. Charles in Bayport and the canonical administrator of St. Croix Catholic School in Stillwater. 

Ordained a priest May 28, 2005, by Archbishop Harry Flynn, Bishop-elect Izen ministered at Divine Mercy Catholic Church in Faribault until 2007, when he was named pastor of the Church of St. Timothy in Maple Lake. He served there until February 2012, when he was appointed pastor of the Church of St. Raphael in Crystal, where he ministered until moving to Stillwater in 2015. 

Before his ordination, Bishop-elect Izen earned an undergraduate degree in mathematics and computer science from St. John’s University in Collegeville and went to work for 3M as a systems analyst. He said during his nine years there it became clearer than ever before that God was calling him to discern a possible vocation to the priesthood. 

He enrolled at The St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul and earned a Master of Divinity. Fourteen men were ordained to the priesthood with Bishop-elect Izen in 2005, one of the archdiocese’s largest ordination classes in decades. 

Bishop-elect Izen was born Jan. 12, 1967, to the late John and JoAnna Izen. The youngest of their six children, he grew up in Fairmont, in the Diocese of Winona-Rochester, and attended St. John Vianney elementary school. He graduated from Fairmont High School in 1985. 

Archbishop Hebda said Bishop-elect Izen’s impressive natural gifts suggest that the Lord Jesus Christ has long been preparing him to serve as a bishop. 

“I am confident that the archdiocese will benefit greatly from his leadership and experience, and I personally look forward to working with him more closely as he begins this new ministry,” the archbishop said. “Please join me in both congratulating Bishop-elect Izen and offering him our prayers as he prepares for his upcoming ordination.” 

Joe Ruff is editor-in-chief of The Catholic Spirit, the newspaper for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.