LINCOLN, Neb. — As the Diocese of Lincoln, Neb., celebrates its 125th anniversary, Bishop James Conley has been named the region's ninth bishop by Pope Benedict XVI.
“He will serve the people of Lincoln with great enthusiasm, strong leadership and with a deep love for Jesus Christ and the Church,” Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver said in a Sept. 13 statement.
Bishop Conley, who has served as the auxiliary bishop of Denver since 2008, is a Kansas native and was raised Presbyterian.
He will succeed Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz, who has served the diocese for more than 20 years and submitted his resignation according to Church procedure upon reaching his 75th birthday in 2010.
“In the four years Bishop Conley has served as auxiliary bishop of Denver, he has become well-known for his commitment to the unborn, his enthusiasm for young people, and especially for the devotion with which he celebrates the Most Holy Eucharist,” Archbishop Aquila said.
Archbishop Aquila assured Bishop Conley of prayers from Denver, as well as “our continued hope for his success” in his new role as shepherd of Lincoln.
Having converted to Catholicism during college, Bishop Conley was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Wichita, Kan., in 1985. He completed his philosophical formation at Mount St. Pius X Seminary in Erlanger, Ky., and his theological studies at Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md., earning a master’s degree in divinity.
As a priest, Bishop Conley served as associate pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Wichita and as the diocesan director of the diocese's Respect Life Office.
After earning his licentiate in Rome in 1989, Bishop Conley was appointed pastor of St. Paul parish at the Wichita State University campus Newman Center in 1991. During that time, he received both his mother and father into the Catholic Church.
In 1996, he was called back to Rome, where he served as an official in the Congregation for Bishops. While in Rome, Bishop Conley served as chaplain to the University of Dallas' Rome campus 1997-2003 and as adjunct instructor of theology for Christendom College's Rome campus from 2004 to 2006.
He was named “chaplain to His Holiness” with the title "monsignor" in 2001 by Pope John Paul II.
In 2006, he returned to the Wichita Diocese, where he served as pastor of Blessed Sacrament parish.
From 2011-2012, Bishop Conley served as the apostolic administrator of the Denver Archdiocese until Archbishop Aquila was installed as the new shepherd.
The Diocese of Lincoln is home to more than 95,000 Catholics in 136 parishes, has 150 priests and 141 women religious and has one diocesan seminary, St. Gregory the Great, and one religious seminary, Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Bishop Conley will formally be installed as the new bishop Nov. 20 at the Cathedral of the Risen Christ.