Saint Paul Seminary alum Fr. Michael John Izen appointed as auxiliary bishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis

Pope Francis has appointed Fr. Michael John Izen, a Saint Paul Seminary alum, as the next auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis.

“It is with deep joy and gratitude to God that we celebrate today the selection of Bishop-elect Izen as auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis,” seminary rector Fr. Joseph Taphorn said. “It is always edifying to watch the Holy Spirit move in the ministry of seminary alumni such as Fr. Izen, and we can’t wait to partner with him in forming more joyful, Catholic leaders for the local Church and beyond. It is clear Fr. Izen’s experience as a pastor and leader will bear great fruit for the faithful in our archdiocese. May the intercession of both St. Michael the Archangel and St. John Neumann guide Bishop-elect Izen as he prepares for his new role.
Izen, 55, currently serves as the pastor at the churches of St. Michael and St. Mary in Stillwater, Minnesota. He is highly regarded as a humble and effective leader of the two parishes and St. Croix Catholic elementary school.”

“As much as I would never have pursued this,” Izen said during a press conference Thursday, “I would never say no to the Church.”

Said Archbishop Bernard Hebda: “Pope Francis has chosen wisely.”

After receiving his Bachelor’s degree from St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota, Izen worked for nine years at 3M technologies as a systems analyst. His brother, Paul — one of Izen’s five siblings — also worked at 3M.

“I’m wondering if there could be a Post-it note on [Izen’s episcopal] coat of arms,” Hebda joked.

It was during his time of work in the private sector that Izen felt a call to the priesthood and enrolled at The Saint Paul Seminary.

He was ordained in 2005 by Archbishop Harry Flynn alongside 14 other seminarian classmates. Izen is the 37th Saint Paul Seminary alum to be named a bishop.

“I was surprised, humbled, and a little terrified when I received the call from the Apostolic Nuncio informing me that Pope Francis had appointed me as an auxiliary bishop,” Bishop-elect Izen said in a statement.  “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.”

Bishop-elect Izen will help lead the 12-county metro area alongside Hebda and Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Williams.

Williams and Izen entered The Saint Paul Seminary during the same year — 1998. Izen recalls being unsure of his vocation until a pivotal conversation with then-interim rector Bishop Frederick Campbell, followed by an overwhelming peace at his ordination to the transitional diaconate.

“I wish I could say there was this great experience of peace when I entered the seminary, but that didn’t happen right away,” Izen said. “My family will remember that. It’s like, ‘Oh, why does the Lord want me here?’ And really, the peace didn’t come until right up close to ordination during a conversation with Bishop Campbell, who was the interim rector, which was really significant for me. And then I think a month later I was ordained a transitional deacon. I would say since ordination, there’s been a good sense of peace.”

After his priestly ordination, Izen served at Divine Mercy in Faribault until 2007, when he became pastor at Saint Timothy in Maple Lake. In February of 2012, he became pastor at Saint Raphael in Crystal, ministering there until 2015 when he was assigned to Stillwater.

Izen was with a fellow priest watching highlights from the Minnesota Vikings’ historic 33-point comeback win over the Indianapolis Colts when he received the call from Archbishop Christoph Pierre, the pope’s apostolic nuncio the United States.

“I thought … that maybe he was calling to get my input about another candidate for being a bishop,” Izen said. “It soon became clear that he doesn’t mince words. It’s like it’s right to the point. I asked … ‘what’s the protocol? Do I pray about this and then call you back?’ And [Pierre] said, ‘No, you say yes. And then you pray about it.’ So I said yes. And then the Viking highlights from that second-half comeback didn’t seem so important as we watched.”

Izen’s official ordination will be held on April 11, 2023 at the Cathedral of Saint Paul.

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