‘Your holiness can transform the world’

Message for laity


Bishop Conley

The following comes from a November 20 story on the Catholic News Agency website.

As he was installed in the Diocese of Lincoln on Tuesday, Bishop James D. Conley stressed the need for bishops and all Catholics to be holy so that the Gospel will impact the culture and the Church will prosper.

“My brother bishops, there is nothing more important for a bishop than the care of souls,” he said in his Nov. 20 homily. “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.”

The installation Mass began at 2 p.m. local time in Lincoln’s Cathedral of the Risen Christ.

Dozens of priests and bishops processed up to the altar. Their procession was flanked by a Knights of Columbus honor guard and followed by the Knights and Ladies of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre.

Among the more than 40 archbishops, bishops and abbots in attendance were apostolic nuncio Archbishop Carlo Vigano, emeritus Bishop of Lincoln Fabian Bruskewitz, Archbishop George Lucas of Omaha, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia and Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles.

Bishop Conley’s childhood friend, Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City, was also among the  bishops in attendance.

The new Bishop of Lincoln’s homily focused on the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the sufferings of Jesus Christ.

“Christ crucified is the beautiful and harrowing mystery of our faith. It seems inconceivable, unreasonable, and unjust that the God of the universe conquers death by dying on a cross,” he said. “The scandal of the Incarnation is that Christ became man to die on a cross, between two criminals, so that we could share in the life of God for all eternity.”

“But the love of God is found precisely at the foot of the Cross,” he said. “We gaze at the crucified Christ because the crucifixion leads to the victory.”

Bishop Conley remembered his time in a rural monastery in France and his youthful effort at truck farming in north central Kansas near the Nebraska border.

“Those are the places where I learned to pray. Those are the places where I learned to hear the voice of the Lord. The rhythms of the rural life are at the heart of my own spiritual life,” he said. “So I’m grateful to the Lord that has brought me here to Lincoln.”

The bishop credited his attendance at Blessed John Paul II’s papal Mass in Iowa in 1979 for helping inspire his own vocation to the priesthood. The Pope “radiated joy and hope” despite his sufferings under the Nazis and the Communists, he recalled.

Bishop Conley then addressed each of the groups present: the bishops who preceded him, the priests and religious of the diocese and the laity.

He expressed gratitude for the diocese’s “rich Catholic history” and the leadership of his predecessors Bishop Bruskewitz and Bishop Glennon Flavin.

“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 told his brother bishops.

“Last week in Baltimore, Cardinal Dolan put it like this: ‘we cannot engage culture unless we allow him to first engage us.’

“And, if we want the New Evangelization to take root, it starts on our knees with the conversion of our own hearts,” Bishop Conley stated.

The bishop urged his diocese’s priests to contact him whenever they need to and to pray for him, as he will pray for them always.

“You were made for greatness. We are all made for greatness. And your bishop wants nothing more from you than sanctity. The Church needs holy priests now more than ever,” he said, encouraging priests and bishops to make their priesthood “characterized by joy.”

“Our sufferings can transform our hearts into the Sacred Heart of Jesus. They can allow us to love as Christ loves,” he said.

He thanked vowed religious men and women for their witness to Jesus and he called seminarians “a supreme blessing to the diocese.”

He also had a message for the laity.

“Your greatest vocation is to holiness,” he said. “Your holiness can transform the world.”

Bishop Conley, 57, was made auxiliary bishop of Denver in 2008. He was born in Kansas City, Missouri and lived briefly in Colorado before moving to Kansas as a child. He was raised Presbyterian and converted to Catholicism in part because of his experiences as a student at the University of Kansas Integrated Humanities Program in the 1970s. He was ordained a priest in 1985 for the Diocese of Wichita.

There are over 96,000 Catholics in the Diocese of Lincoln, out of a total population of 588,000. The diocese has 150 diocesan priests, 141 religious sisters, and 44 seminarians. There are 134 parishes in the diocese and over 7,600 primary and secondary students in 27 Catholic elementary schools and six Catholic high schools.

The diocese is the home of a diocesan seminary and the seminary of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, a priestly society dedicated to the celebration of the Tridentine Latin Mass.

To read the original story, click here.

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  1. Kenneth M. Fisher says:

    Pray that the new Bishop of Lincoln will enforce Canon 915, thus giving an example to his brother bishops!

    God bless, yours in Their Hearts,
    Kenneth M. Fisher

  2. One of the many things I am thankful for is the California Catholic Daily, which teaches me more about Catholicism and describes the daily spiritual and physical efforts and feats of my fellow Catholics who strive diligently to save the lives of the preborn and those who face ridicule, threats and embarrasment when they defy clergy and others in power who are violating Church doctrine and practices. I wish you all a happy Thanksgiving.

    Bishop Conley speaks eloquently of the New Evangelization and what each of us must do to achieve it. Have you noticed the zeal of the atheist groups? They advertise their hatred of God and Christianity on billboards and in periodicals. They file lawsuits to try to stop various Christian practices, to prevent athletes and students from praying at school events, to remove crosses from public lands and cemeteries and to prevent a creche from being displayed in Santa Monica, CA. We must be more zealous to promote Catholicism and our own personal holiness than the atheists are to promote their culture of death and poisonous philosophy.

  3. May God Bless this Bishop and may he continue to walk in holiness. I pray that my local Bishop’s and priests follow with him.

  4. Great to see the influence of JP II in Bishop Conley’s life. When JP II visited Dodger Sadium years later, I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit profoundly. Never made it to the priesthood, but will never forget that profound inspiration. I can see why Bishop Conley was himself so inspired, and set on the course that has led him to this great moment.

  5. WOODY GUIDRY says:

    Truth and beauty combined-one “note” in the philosophy of God.

  6. Laurette Elsberry says:

    It is good to have something uplifting on Thanksgiving Day. Thank you.

  7. I sent an email to Bishop Conley when he was in Denver, and he personally responded.
    He fully supports and wants everyone to read the “Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition”.

  8. Finally !!!

  9. Maryanne Leonard says:

    The installation of Bishop Conley was televised on EWTN, I believe more than once, and I was fortunate enough to watch it all the way through as I was working out. Bishop Conley’s devotion to leadership is both inspiring and moving, and we are likely to hear more from this dedicated servant of God.

  10. We must pray for Bishop Conley and all Bishops. Conley was well spoken in saying that holiness begins with the Bishops and priests, a message for us all that the laity will have a more difficult time attaining holiness if their own Church leaders are unable or unwilling to.

  11. I believe Bishop Conley will continue as the wonderfull Bishop Bruskewitz did in Lincoln by acting as a true Roman Catholic bishop should act. He appears to be friendly towards the Traditional Latin Mass and his installation Mass was void of most “Novus Ordo” abuses, the hand waver was annoying, but he did have the Benedictine arrangement for the altar six candle sticks and central crucifix and stunning gold vestments and miter, Lincoln still forbids “female” altar servers. Also the F.S.S.P. has their seminary in Lincoln and I will be certain he will visit all the “young” men wanting to become holy priests.

    • Yes indeed, a “stunning gold miter and vestments” is the sure and foolproof sign of true holiness.

      That’s why Saint John The Baptist always dressed this way – and of course Jesus The Lord also.

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