Bishop Conley began ministry as a priest for the Diocese of Wichita
LINCOLN, Neb. (CNS) — Bishop James D. Conley, installed as the ninth bishop of Lincoln Nov. 20, urged those attending his installation Mass at the Cathedral of the Risen Christ in Lincoln to take responsibility in promoting the mission of the church.
“The mission of the church is not my responsibility alone. It is our responsibility,” he said in his homily. “Your candor, your experience, your counsel and collaboration are essential to the mission of the church. Our vocations depend on one another, and on the mercy of God,” he added.
More than 40 bishops attended the installation including Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
Bishop Conley, who was ordained an auxiliary bishop for Denver in 2008, succeeds Bishop Fabian W. Bruskewitz, who is 77 and has led the Lincoln Diocese since 1992. Bishops are required by canon law to submit their resignation to the pope when they turn 75.
The newly installed bishop praised Bishop Bruskewitz for more than 20 years of “faithful, courageous and steadfast episcopal leadership of the Diocese of Lincoln.”
He also stressed that the installation Mass was not just about the diocese getting a new leader.
“The focus of this Mass and the focus of every Mass is the redeeming sacrifice of Christ on the altar; the Lord truly made present to us. I pray that we encounter him in joy and in humility,” he said.
Bishop Conley, 57, is a native of Kansas City, Mo., and is of Wea Indian descent. Raised a Presbyterian, he became a Catholic at age 20, during his junior year in college. He graduated in 1977 from the University of Kansas with a bachelor’s degree in English literature.
After college he worked on a farm in north central Kansas and traveled to Europe. In 1980, he entered the seminary for the Diocese of Wichita, Kan., and was ordained a priest for the diocese five years later.
In his homily, the bishop encouraged his brother bishops to strive for holiness.
“If the church is to flourish in the world today, if the new evangelization is to really take root, if we are to truly build a culture of life — holiness must begin with us,” he said.
He also told diocesan priests that he looks forward to their fraternity and friendship as they work together as “collaborators in ministry.”
“As the church faces new challenges and addresses new needs, we will need to work together to continue the new evangelization in the Diocese of Lincoln.”
He also urged them to be holy and joyful, saying, “the church needs holy priests now more than ever. Let us commit together to living the priesthood with joy.”
The bishop thanked the seminarians, calling them a “supreme blessing to the diocese,” and praised the women religious for pointing others to heaven by their vocation.