Area Catholics Welcome New Bishop

By: Bill Schammert

It was a monumental day for tens of thousands of Catholics in southern Nebraska as James Conley officially took his seat as Bishop of the Diocese of Lincoln on Tuesday.

“The focus of this mass is not the installation of a bishop,” Bishop Conley said.  “The focus of the mass and the focus of every mass is the redeeming sacrifice of Christ on the altar.”

The installation began formal, with Bishop Conley seeking entrance into the Cathedral of the Risen Christ.  This was followed by the reading of a letter from Pope Benedict XVI.  It was read aloud by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano.

“We also express our confidence that you will faithfully teach, govern and sanctify this beloved community,” Archbishop Vigano read.

Bishop Conley will be replacing Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz.  Bishop Bruskewitz has served the diocese since 1992. 

Bishop Conley opened his mass in front of more than 1,000 people and 40 bishops from across the country with a slight touch of humor.

“I have experienced my first Husker victory and my first Runza sandwich,” Bishop Conley said. “Both were pretty awesome!”

The 57-year-old Conley was raised Presbyterian, but converted to Catholicism while in college at the University of Kansas.  He says his Midwestern background makes him a good fit for The Diocese of Lincoln.

“The rhythms of the rural life are at the heart of my own spiritual life,” Bishop Conley said. “So I am grateful to the Lord who has brought me here to Lincoln.”

Bishop Conley previously served as Auxiliary Bishop at the Archdiocese of Denver.  In Lincoln, he will oversee 135 parishes and about 97,000 Catholics.