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Pope names Minnesota priest as auxiliary bishop of Hartford


  • Pope Francis has appointed Father Juan M. Betancourt, a priest in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, as auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Hartford, Conn. The appointment was announced in Washington Sept. 18 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, papal nuncio to the United States. Bishop-designate Betancourt is pictured in a 2015 photo. (CNS photo/Dave Hrbacek, The Catholic Spirit)
  • Pope Francis has appointed Father Juan M. Betancourt, a priest in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, as auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Hartford, Conn. The appointment was announced in Washington Sept. 18 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, papal nuncio to the United States. Bishop-designate Betancourt is pictured in a 2017 photo. (CNS photo/Dave Hrbacek, The Catholic Spirit)

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WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Francis has appointed Father Juan M. Betancourt, a priest in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, as auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Hartford, Connecticut.

The appointment was announced in Washington Sept. 18 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, papal nuncio to the United States.

A member of the Institute of the Servants of the Holy Eucharist and the Blessed Virgin Mary, Bishop-designate Betancourt has been pastor of the St. James and St Francis de Sales parishes in St. Paul, Minnesota, since 2006.

He also has been the local superior of his religious institute's House of St. Joseph in St. Paul and has been on the faculty of St. Paul Seminary and the University of St. Thomas. He taught in the University of St. Thomas' theology program from 2006 to 2009. At the seminary, he is the associate academic dean and an assistant professor of sacred Scripture; he has taught there since 2008.

Bishop-designate Betancourt was born June 1, 1970, in Ponce, Puerto Rico. He entered the institute as a canonical postulant Jan. 1, 1992, and professed vows as a religious Oct. 7, 1994. He was ordained a priest in 2001.

He holds a bachelor's degree in theological studies from the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico and earned a master of divinity degree in 2002. In addition, he holds a licentiate in sacred scripture from the Pontifical Biblical Institute.

From 2005 to 2006, he was a professor of sacred Scripture at the Pontifical University of Puerto Rico and Regina Cleri Major Seminary in Puerto Rico.

The newly named bishop also is a board member of the National Conference for Seminarians in Hispanic Ministry and a liaison for Foreign Seminarians at St. Paul Seminary.

His episcopal ordination will take place Oct. 18 at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Hartford.

"I am honored and grateful to be entrusted with this mission of service in the Lord's church," Bishop-designate Betancourt, 48, said in a Sept. 18 statement from St. Paul Seminary. "My prayers are for my seminary family, for my parish family, and for my new family in the Archdiocese of Hartford."

According to the seminary, his areas of teaching and research include the Old and New Testaments, scriptural preaching and preaching the Catholic social tradition.

"I have known Father Juan Miguel Betancourt for almost 15 years to be a man of deep prayer and a joyful servant in everything he does," Bishop Andrew H. Cozzens, the seminary's interim rector, said in the statement. "His love for the study of sacred Scripture and his gifts for teaching will be a great blessing for his new episcopal ministry.

"He is a man who desires to be a servant in all he does, as is reflected in the name of his religious community the Servants of the Eucharist and Mary. We will miss the dedication, his wisdom in formation of men, and his joyful Puerto Rican spirit!" the bishop said.

Prior to teaching at St. Paul Seminary, Bishop-designate Betancourt was a professor of sacred Scripture at the Pontifical University of Puerto Rico and a professor of sacred Scripture at Regina Cleri Major Seminary in Puerto Rico from 2005 to 2006.

Bishop-designate Betancourt has been a board member of the National Conference for Seminarians in Hispanic Ministry since 2009 and a liaison for foreign seminarians at the St. Paul Seminary since 2008. This year, the St. Paul Seminary enrolled 89 seminarians from 14 dioceses and one religious community. Among the seminarians is a man from the Diocese of Kabale, Uganda.

He also has served on the archdiocese's presbyteral council.

"The Archdiocese of Hartford will be truly blessed to have Father Juan Miguel as an auxiliary bishop," said Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda of St. Paul and Minneapolis. He made the comments in the statement issued by the seminary.

"His sharp intellect, pastoral heart and joyful spirit suggest that the Lord has long been preparing him for this new ministry as a successor to the apostles," the archbishop said. "While he will be sorely missed at St. Francis de Sales Parish and at the St. Paul Seminary, where he has served with distinction, I rejoice with the church of Hartford at this appointment."

As an auxiliary bishop, Bishop-designate will assist Archbishop Leonard P. Blair, who has led the Archdiocese of Hartford since 2013.

"The appointment of Father Betancourt is a cause of rejoicing not only for me personally, but for all our clergy, religious and laity," Archbishop Blair said in a statement. "For me and for our clergy, it means the welcome arrival of a dedicated co-worker in the Lord's vineyard who brings a variety of talent and experience to our shared ministry. For the laity, Father Betancourt's Hispanic/Latino heritage will only enhance the pastoral care that he will exercise for the good of every race and ethnicity."

He added that for those in religious life, the newly name bishop's membership in the Society of the Servants of the Eucharist and Mary "only serves to underscore the value and contribution that consecrated religious men and women make to the good of the church."

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Contributing to this story was Maria Wiering, editor of The Catholic Spirit, newspaper of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

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