This morning the Holy See announced the decision of Pope Benedict XVI to accept the retirement of Bishop Fabian Wendelin Bruskewitz and to name Bishop James Douglas Conley as the new Bishop of Lincoln, Nebraska, USA.
Bishop Conley had been serving as Auxiliary Bishop of Denver, Colorado.
Thanks, David. That announcement will bring sadness to many here, not because of the elevation of Bishop Conley, but because of the departure of Bishop Bruskewitz.
Some information on Bishop Conley
Bishop-elect Conley, 53, is a native of Overland Park, Kan., a suburb of Kansas City, and a convert to Catholicism. He has been a Catholic for 33 years and a priest for 23 years. His most recent assignment has been as pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish in the Diocese of Wichita. He previously served the Holy Father for 10 years as an official in the Vatican Congregation for Bishops in Rome. Pope Benedict XVI appointed him auxiliary bishop on April 10, 2008.
When he submitted his mandatory letter of resignation two years ago, he told the local newspaper that he was interested in staying active in the diocese. I wonder what roles a bishop emeritus may possibly take?
We have an archbishop emeritus in the Diocese of Galveston-Houston. And a auxillary Bishop emeritus too. Archbishop Fiorenza (ret) still is active on several diocisan committees and is very busy during Confirmation season. Retired auxillary Bishop Rizzotto also is on the Confirmation rotation and, at least until very recently, was very active with the Catholic schools, serving on a few school boards as the diocisan representative and chairs one of the big fundraisers for retired religious.
When I interviewed Bishop Bruskewitz on the occasion of his jubilee, he told me that when he became bishop of Lincoln, Bishop Flavin helped out a lot with confirmations and decision-making (say, priest assignments, when he still didn’t know all the priests very well). I imagine Bishop Bruskewitz intends to do the same. He will probably pick up a lot of the confirmations to ease Bishop Conley’s schedule (they go on for months!), and I am sure he will be a welcomed professor at Saint Gregory’s Seminary, and a guest speaker at any number of events around the diocese. His expertise in education will continue to be valuable to our schools as well. And I think he’s got a book or two left in him to write, but he hasn’t had time to do it. Don’t worry - I think we’ll see a lot from him.
And, knowing Bishop Bruskewitz’s love for hunting, he’ll be making “pastoral visits” to various rural parts of the diocese with some frequency! (Bishop Flavin was famous for scheduling Confirmations in the southwest part of the diocese to coincide with pheasant season).
Welcome to Bishop Conley! Many people (including me in 1992) have moved to Lincoln as a last bastion of orthodoxy. Bishop Bruskewitz & Bishop Flavin were very faithful shepherds. Bishop Conley has been in our prayers for 2 years now due to the fact that the diocese has been praying for a successor since Bishop Bruskewitz submitted his retirement to Rome in September of 2010.
I am also from Lincoln and very happy about this. From what I have seen so far, Bishop Conley seems like he will be a good fit for our Diocese. While we will miss Bishop Bruskewitz very much, we are excited and happy to welcome our new Bishop Conley. May God be with them both.
That is really up to the new bishop in consultation with the retiring one.
Generally retiring bishops remain active in some fashion - some assist the new bishop much like an auxiliary bishop would - doing confirmations. etc.
Some take on the duties of a parish priest, or seminary professor, etc.
Sad to see Bishop Bruskewitz retire, but I am sure that people will be happy with Bishop Conley as his replacement. He is a convert to the Catholic Faith, spent a good part of his childhood in the Kansas City area, then attended the University of Kansas–KU. He enrolled in the Integrated Humanities Program, a fine program of classic liberal arts which did indeed integrate the humanaties. Sadly, it was later dropped I believe that it was during his time at KU that he converted to Catholicism, and later entered the seminary. He was a priest of the diocese of Wichita Kansas before being made a bishop.
BTW, for those who haven’t recently looked at the news article from the Lincoln Journal Star, it was updated three hours ago and might be worth looking at again since it is substantially different from the earlier version.
The new bishop of the Lincoln Catholic Diocese, James D. Conley has no plans to change the conservative philosophies and practices established by Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz.
“I have held the Diocese of Lincoln in high esteem. It is rich with vocation, Catholic education and family life. I am not going to mess around with that,” he said during Friday’s news conference announcing his appointment. “I plan to continue to build that up and encourage it.”
Conley and Bruskewitz have been colleagues and personal friends for more than 15 years – becoming acquainted while Conley was in Rome.
“Bishop Bruskewitz has been a true champion of the Catholic faith and personal hero of mine for many years,” Conley said Friday. “Nebraska is known for its steadfast defense of life, especially unborn life; for civil and religious liberty; for traditional marriage between a man and a woman; and strong family values. I am not yet bishop, but I am proud of this state.”
That only makes sense. Coming from Denver, which is where Archbishop Chaput was prior to going to Philadelphia, I think he will be a good fit for Lincoln. Denver, to my understanding, has a very good situation in their diocese at the moment and Bishop Conley has been a part of that.
I’m so glad that we have a new bishop, but am sad Bishop Bruskewitz is leaving. I remember how amazing of a speaker he was and how at our confirmation he seemed to be a very jovial man telling us during our pictures to “be happy, think of beer and pretzels”. I know many of us in Lincoln, and Nebraska are sad to see him go. Welcome Bishop Conley
Seventy percent of registered Catholics attend Mass weekly in the Diocese of Lincoln.
I’m sure Conley will do a good job there, and keep many of Bruskewitz successful leadership in place. I met Bp. Conley last year in Denver when he gave the closing Mass at the National Catholic Singles’ Conference. I thanked him for coming, and he gave a solid homily.
Bp. Conley has been to Mount St. Mary’s in Emmittsburg, Maryland. Seminarians (now three priests) I met in the Lincoln diocese told me that Bruskewitz would only send the Theology division to two places - the Mount (Emmittsburg) and St. Charles Borromeo (Philadelphia).
While I wish Bruskewitz could have stayed longer (he’s in good health too), I wish the Vatican would look a little more at filling the other vacant sees (like Tyler, Texas who has been without a bishop for 14 months, and El Paso has been vacant for at least 9 months.) and taking a closer look at say, appointing a coadjutor for the Diocese of Albany (NY).
I was happy that a coadjutor was appointed this year for the Diocese of San Diego (CA), and I was elated that Bishop Clark’s resignation (Diocese of Rochester) and Bishop Brown’s resignation were accepted yesterday.
Another bishop I would have liked to have seen stay longer was Bishop Doran in Rockford, Illinois. At least two new bishop appointments came from Rockford, one going to Indiana (by the way, I think Indianapolis is still without an Archbishop). Bishop Doran, like Bruskewitz, is known for orthodoxy.
In Oklahoma, I hope Bishop Slattery of Tulsa gets to stay longer (he is close to 75), and Abp. Coakley of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City is a seminary classmate of Bishop Conley.
I don’t know which priest will become the next bishop of Bridgeport (Connecticut) or Fort Worth (Texas). The Archdiocese for the Military Services could use another Auxillary Bishop (Bp. Estabrook passed away in February 2012).