Former seminary teacher to bishop of Hartford: seminarians discern for the right reasons

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Last October, Fr. Juan Betancourt was ordained bishop at the Cathedral of St. Joseph for the Archdiocese of Hartford, Connecticut. He says his first year in his role as bishop has been non-stop since he received the call from the nuncio. 

Bishop Diocese of Hartford

“I thought he was calling because he was looking for the rector. Then he said, 'You know, I'm calling you because the Holy father and I think you'd do a great job as auxiliary bishop in Hartford. Silence. I didn't say anything. Then he asked, 'Do you know where that is?' Then at the same time, we both started laughing. I said, 'Yes, archbishop. That's in Connecticut.”

Before taking on this role, he was teaching at St. Paul Seminary in Minnesota. Through his time working with seminarians, he believes those who are now entering or are currently becoming priests do it for the right reasons. Bishop Juan said now is not “the time” when future priests are seeking their own interests. 

Bishop Diocese of Hartford

“I would say that the candidates, --cut-- they come because they want to serve the Lord and the people of God. Not because some other interest. Not about selfishness or pride or prestige. But even with all these difficulties, the Lord is always calling. If a young man like your brother has said yes and is giving the Lord a chance. Discerning if the Lord is calling him to the priesthood, is very possibly because of the right intentions.”

He said in his new role as bishop, the three main requests by Pope Francis for all priests and bishops give him great hope and encouragement. When he came to Rome for New England's week of Vatican meetings in November, he was able to hear them from the pope himself.

Bishop Diocese of Hartford

“Closeness to God, first in prayer. Be faithful to that. Closeness to our priests, being close to them. Not being a brother, but being a father, and accompany them in their ministry. Being close to the people of God, whom we serve. It's something that since becoming a bishop, as a priest I was doing. Now with my new responsibility in ministry, I feel like the Holy Father is saying, and I feel, 'Yes, I'm on the right path.'”

He's putting the Holy Father's advice into practice while continuing to get to know his parishioners and fellow priests in the Diocese of Hartford, and his brother bishops as a member of the USCCB. 

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