ONE Magazine

The official publication of
Catholic Near East Welfare Association

Celebrating 50 years | God • World • Human Family • Church


Interview with Msgr. John E. Kozar

When Msgr. John E. Kozar became president of CNEWA in mid-September, he brought more than a new name and face to the agency. He brought years of experience as a parish priest and administrator in Pittsburgh, along with a decade of service as national director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States. He recently sat down withONE to talk about his life and his vision for CNEWA.

ONE: How have your experiences — in the missions, as an administrator, as a diocesan priest — shaped you?

Msgr. Kozar: If I would summarize the sum total of who I am and what I’ve done, what I hope to bring to CNEWA, I would say it’s a very happy and fulfilled priest. If there’s a title that I would put in front of me it would be “Parish Priest on Loan to the World.”

ONE: What might people find surprising to learn about you?

Msgr. Kozar: I have some unusual ways of recreating. I enjoy flying kites and I enjoy cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. I love winter. And I make and throw boomerangs! They’ve given me a lot of enjoyment.

ONE: What are some of the things that have surprised you about this new job?

Msgr. Kozar: Just the breadth of outreach. For example, I knew there was some help being given to the former Soviet Union, but there’s more than I appreciated. That’s a nice, pleasant surprise. I feel a certain comfort zone from that part of the world — my parents are of Croatian heritage, and I can identify with that. That’s been one thing. I guess also the depth of leadership in regional areas, and here in New York. The whole ambiance here is very professional, committed, dedicated. It gives me great hope and a positive surge of energy.

ONE: If you had to describe CNEWA’s mission in your own words, what would that be?

Msgr. Kozar: It’s a wonderful ministry that the Holy Father has entrusted to this agency to reach out to those who suffer greatly. We have a moral obligation to help, and we help in many ways, even in raising the flag of peace. We’re cooperators. Perhaps even initiators sometimes, without even realizing it. We can bring two factions together, but because we come in the name of the Holy Father, and we reach out in openness, we can be peacemakers. Or peace initiators. These are all exciting things for me.

ONE: What do you think has had the biggest impact on your vocation?

Msgr. Kozar: My first heroes are missionaries. And that has really colored my priesthood and made me look beyond what is my immediate role … that experience, that touchstone with a broader church, I think that has conditioned me. I would like to think that if I connect the dots of my life, there’s a lot of zigging and zagging. But I think I’m supposed to be where I am. I think this is what God would have me do.

Greg Kandra is CNEWA’s multimedia editor and serves as a deacon in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn.

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