NEW YORK (CNS) — Msgr. John E. Kozar, former national director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States, has been appointed president of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association and the Pontifical Mission for Palestine.
When the appointments take effect Sept. 15, he will succeed Msgr. Robert L. Stern, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York who has been the chief executive of the agency since 1987.
Msgr. Kozar, a 65-year-old priest of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, was elected to the post by the Catholic Near East Welfare Association’s board of trustees, chaired by Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York, and confirmed by the Vatican. Pope Benedict XVI named him to head the Pontifical Mission for Palestine.
Following studies at St. Meinrad Seminary College in Indiana and St. Mary’s Seminary and University in Baltimore, he was ordained a priest May 1, 1971. As part of his seminary training, he spent a summer at a mission in Juliaca, Peru.
Then-Father Kozar spent the early years of his priesthood as an associate pastor at various parishes in the Pittsburgh Diocese. From 1978 to 2001, he served as development director for the diocese, making yearly pastoral visits to a mission in Chimbote, Peru.
He also worked 1987-2001 as pilgrimage director for the diocese, 1995-97 as vicar for clergy, 1995-2001 as diocesan director of the Pontifical Mission Societies and 1997-2001 as director of the Diocesan Jubilee Office, while simultaneously serving as pastor of several parishes.
Named national director of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, the Society of St. Peter Apostle and the Missionary Union of Priests and Religious in January 2001, he added responsibility for the Holy Childhood Association later that year.
Together the four agencies make up the Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States, which raise missionary awareness and mission funding under the jurisdiction of the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
He was named a monsignor in December 2003.
The Catholic Near East Welfare Association, founded in 1926 by Pope Pius XI, has a fourfold mandate:
• To support the pastoral mission and institutions of the Eastern Catholic churches.
• To provide humanitarian assistance to all in need.
• To promote Christian unity and interreligious understanding and collaboration.
• To educate people in the West about the history, cultures, peoples and churches of the East.
The agency has its central office in Rome and administrative headquarters in New York City, as well as offices in Canada, Eritrea, India, Israel/Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon and the United States.
The Pontifical Mission for Palestine was established in 1949 by Pope Pius XII to support programs of emergency assistance and relief; care and rehabilitation; education and human development; collaboration and service to other agencies; and advocacy and public awareness for the people of Palestine and neighboring areas of the Middle East.
It also has offices at the Vatican and in New York, as well as regional offices in Amman, Jordan; Beirut; and Jerusalem.