WASHINGTON (February 19, 2001) -- Rev. John E. Kozar, a priest of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, has been named the National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States.
Included are the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, the Society of St. Peter Apostle, and the Missionary Union of Priests and Religious. They are part of the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
Father Kozar was appointed by Cardinal Josef Tomko, head of the Evangelization Congregation. The announcement in the United States was made by Bishop Joseph A. Fiorenza, President of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, in a February 16 letter to Father Kozar.
Father Kozar's term is effective immediately. He succeeds Auxiliary Bishop William J. McCormack of New York, who has been national director of the Societies since 1980. The Societies are headquartered in Manhattan.
In announcing the appointment, Bishop Fiorenza congratulated Father Kozar and expressed the congratulations of Cardinal Tomko, Archbishop Marcello Zago, O.M.I., secretary
at the Evangelization Congregation, and Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States. Bishop Fiorenza added that Archbishop Montalvo wished Father Kozar to know of the Nuncio's desire to cooperate with him "in this most important work of the Universal Church."
In a separate letter, Bishop Fiorenza thanked Bishop McCormack for his service to the missionary efforts of this country.
"Bishop McCormack, the entire Church owes its gratitude to you for 21 years of generous service to the missions," Bishop Fiorenza said. "You have helped to educate U.S. Catholics to the work of the missions that is part and parcel of our faith. By your travels to missionary lands you have provided firsthand proof of how much the people of our country care for those in need and are willing to share their resources with them. Your service to the Church has been of inestimable value and it is one of which the Bishops of the United States are very proud. The trust of the Holy See and our trust have been well placed in you."
Father Kozar, 55, was ordained a priest in 1971. He received his bachelor's degree from St. Meinrad Seminary College in Indiana and his master of divinity degree from St. Mary Seminary and University, Baltimore. As a seminarian he worked in a Peru mission on a summer assignment. Prior to the appointment as national director, he was administrator of St. Mary's Parish, Aleppo Township, and director of the Pittsburgh diocesan offices for the Propagation of the Faith, the Holy Childhood Association, and Catholic Relief Services.
In accepting the appointment, Father Kozar noted his interest in the missions began when he was in elementary school and heard the heroic tales of visiting missionaries.
This appointment, he said, "is the newest segment in my missionary journey. I look forward to sharing the richness of the Church's missionary vocation with the faithful of the United States."
He also expressed gratitude for the confidence placed in him by Cardinal Tomko, Bishop Fiorenza and Bishop Donald W. Wuerl of Pittsburgh.
Bishop Wuerl spoke of the pride the Pittsburgh Diocese feels in the Holy See's tapping one of its priests for this work.
"Father Kozar's great pastoral sensitivity and missionary commitment is evident to all of his brother priests and all the members of our local Church," Bishop Wuerl said. "He has served the missions so well, especially our diocesan supported mission in Chimbote, Peru, throughout his priesthood."
The Propagation of the Faith last year collected $64 million from Catholics of the United States for missionary efforts around the world. Through offerings of Catholics worldwide, which last year totaled $160.9 million, the Propagation of the Faith provides ongoing support for the pastoral and evangelizing programs of the Catholic Church in Africa, Asia, the islands of the Pacific and remote regions of Latin America.
Bishop McCormack hailed the efforts of Catholics in the United States.
"The principle objective of the societies is to stimulate the missionary spirit that's inherent in our faith," Bishop McCormack said. "U.S. Catholics have been extremely generous. They are inspiring in their generosity to and prayer for the missions. The two patrons of the Church's missionary work, St. Francis Xavier, who traveled to Asia to spread the Gospel, and St. Therese of Lisieux, who spent her entire religious life in a cloistered Carmel praying for the missions, show the wide range of missionary work, which includes prayer and personal sacrifice."
"The greatest missionary act of the Church is the Mass," he added.
The Society of St. Peter Apostle invites individuals to support the education of candidates for the Catholic priesthood in the developing world and to support the formation of men and women candidates for the religious life in the Missions.
The Missionary Union of Priests and Religious seeks to increase awareness of the Church's worldwide mission among priests, permanent deacons, men and women religious, candidates to the priesthood and religious life and other persons engaged in pastoral ministry in the Catholic Church.