Pope Benedict XVI has named Bishop James D. Conley, 57, auxiliary bishop of Denver, the ninth Bishop of Lincoln, and accepted the resignation of Bishop Fabian W. Bruskewitz, 77, from the pastoral governance of the Diocese of Lincoln.
The appointment and resignation were publicized in Washington Sept. 14, by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
Bishop Conley is a native of Overland Park, Kan., a suburb of Kansas City, and a convert to Catholicism. He served as a priest for 23 years before his episcopal ordination, including 10 years of service to the Holy Father as an official in the Vatican Congregation for Bishops in Rome.
Pope Benedict XVI appointed him auxiliary bishop of Denver on April 10, 2008. For his episcopal motto, Bishop Conley chose the same motto as the great 19th-century English convert, John Henry Cardinal Newman, “cor ad cor loquitur,” which means “heart speaks to heart.”
Bishop Conley was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Wichita, Kan., May 18, 1985. Since then he has served the Church in a wide variety of ways—as pastor, college campus chaplain, director of Respect Life ministries, theology instructor, Vatican official and bishop. In all of these tasks, he has seen his life as a priest as a call to service and complete surrender to “God’s providential hand.”
Similarly, Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz served the Catholic Church as a pastor, seminary teacher and Vatican official. Born in Milwaukee September 6, 1935, he was ordained a priest July 17, 1960, in Rome. He worked in the Congregation for Catholic Education, a department of the Holy See, in Rome, for 11 years.
While serving as pastor of Saint Bernard Parish in a suburb of Milwaukee, Bishop Bruskewitz was named the eighth Bishop of the Diocese of Lincoln in 1992. He was consecrated a bishop and installed in the Cathedral of the Risen Christ in Lincoln, on May 13, 1992. Priestly and religious vocations, Catholic education, Catholic health care, and Catholic social services are some of the many areas of diocesan life that were promoted by Bishop Bruskewitz.
Bishop Bruskewitz submitted his letter of retirement to the Vatican on his 75th birthday in 2010, as is directed by Canon Law.
The Diocese of Lincoln has 588,641 persons and a Catholic population of 96,625 in 134 parishes.
Biography of Most Rev. James D. Conley, S.T.L.
In his 23 years as a priest, Bishop James D. Conley has served the Catholic Church in a wide variety of ways—as pastor, college campus chaplain, director of Respect Life ministries, theology instructor, Vatican official and bishop. In all of these tasks, he has seen his life as a priest as a call to service and complete surrender to “God’s providential hand.” For his episcopal motto, Bishop Conley, a convert to the Catholic faith, chose the same motto as the great 19th-century English convert, John Henry Cardinal Newman, “cor ad cor loquitur,” which means “heart speaks to heart.”
Early Life and Family
Born March 19, 1955, in Kansas City, Mo., Bishop Conley is the son of Betty and the late Carl Conley, long time residents of Overland Park, Kan., a suburb of Kansas City. He has one younger sister, Susan, who is married to Daniel Atkins and resides in Olathe, Kan. They have two children, Kyle and Kaitlyn. Bishop Conley is of Wea Native American Indian descent.
When he was 2 years old, his family moved to Denver, Colo., and then two years later moved to Arvada, Colo., where Bishop Conley attended public school at Hoskinson Cottage School. The family moved back to Kansas when he was 8 years old and resided in Overland Park, where he attended public grade school and high school.
Academics and Vocation
In 1973, Bishop Conley graduated from Shawnee Mission West High School in Overland Park and enrolled in the fall as a freshman at University of Kansas. He graduated in 1977 from the University of Kansas with a bachelor’s degree in English literature.
While in college, he studied in the University of Kansas’s Integrated Humanities Program, a well-known classical great books program. During his junior year, he converted to the Catholic Church on Dec. 6, 1975. His mentor and teacher in the Integrated Humanities Program, Professor John Senior, was his godfather.
After college, Bishop Conley worked on a farm in north central Kansas and traveled to Europe. In 1980, he entered seminary for the Diocese of Wichita. He received philosophical formation at St. Pius X Seminary in Erlanger, Ky., and his theological formation at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md., where in 1985 he earned a master’s degree in divinity. In 1989, his bishop sent him to Rome, where he earned a licentiate in moral theology from the Accademia Alfonsiana, part of the Faculty of Theology at the Pontifical Lateran University.
On May 18, 1985, Bishop Conley was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Wichita. For the first few years of his priesthood, he served as associate pastor at St. Patrick Parish in Wichita and then as diocesan director of the Respect Life Office.
In 1991, after earning his licentiate in Rome, he was appointed pastor of St. Paul Parish (Newman Center) on the campus of Wichita State University, while continuing his service as director of the Respect Life Office. He had the privilege in 1991 of baptizing both his mother and father and receiving them into the Catholic Church.
Bishop Conley was called back to Rome in 1996 to serve the Holy See as an official in the Vatican Congregation for Bishops. In Rome, he also served as chaplain to the University of Dallas Rome Campus from 1997 to 2003 and as adjunct instructor of theology for Christendom College Rome Campus from 2004 to 2006.
On Feb. 9, 2001, Pope John Paul II named him “chaplain to his holiness” with the title monsignor.
After 10 years of service at the Holy See, Bishop Conley was called back to Wichita Diocese and named pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish, effective Aug. 1, 2006.
On April 10, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI announced the appointment of Reverend Monsignor James D. Conley as auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Denver. Denver Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., ordained him as the new auxiliary bishop on May 30, 2008, the solemnity of the Sacred Heart, at Denver’s Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. As auxiliary bishop, he assisted Archbishop Chaput in the pastoral care of the archdiocese.
On Sept. 8, 2011, the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops announced that due to the appointment of Archbishop Chaput as archbishop of Philadelphia, Bishop Conley was named apostolic administrator of the Denver Archdiocese.
An apostolic administrator is appointed by the pope to lead a diocese during the “sede vacante” (vacant see) period between bishops. Thus, Bishop Conley was entrusted with the authority of the diocesan bishop to teach, sanctify and lead Catholics residing within northern Colorado until Bishop Samuel Aquila of Fargo, N.D., was installed as archbishop of Denver on July 18, 2012.
With the installation of Archbishop Aquila, Bishop Conley resumed his former title of auxiliary bishop.
Biography of Most Rev. Fabian W. Bruskewitz, S.T.D.
Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz has served the Catholic Church as a pastor, seminary teacher and Vatican official. He was ordained a priest July 17, 1960, in Rome.
When named Bishop of Lincoln in 1992, Bishop Bruskewitz, selected as his episcopal motto the title and first line of an ancient hymn of Gregorian Chant to the Blessed Virgin Mary "SUB TUUM PRAESIDIUM." The first line of this hymn, roughly translated, says "We fly to thy protection," and, the bishop has said, it is "TO THY PROTECTION" that each must go to know, love and serve Mary's son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ.
Early Life and Family
Born near and raised in Milwaukee, Wisc., Bishop Fabian W. Bruskewitz experienced a childhood immersed in Catholic culture.
He is the oldest child of Wendelin and Frances Bruskewitz. His father was of German and Polish descent, and his mother’s parents were immigrants from the Czech Republic (then called Bohemia). Both were devoutly Catholic, taking care to raise their two children – the bishop and his younger sister, Sister Collette Bruskewitz, O.S.F. – in the love of Christ and His Church. He credits his parents with creating an atmosphere that enabled him to realize his priestly vocation.
Academics and Vocation
Having realized his priestly vocation in his middle school years, Fabian Bruskewitz, at the age of 14, began his studies at Saint Lawrence Seminary north of Milwaukee in Mount Calvary, Wisc. Saint Lawrence was a minor seminary, combining high school and the first two years of college with studies in Latin, Greek and German, and the beginnings of priestly formation.
Bishop Bruskewitz graduated from Saint Lawrence and earned a college degree in philosophy from Saint Francis Seminary in Milwaukee. He was chosen to study at the Pontifical North American College in Rome and was ordained July 17, 1960. Upon ordination, his first assignment was to serve as overseer for the Pontifical College of North America in Rome for the summer.
Bishop Bruskewitz was called home to the Milwaukee Archdiocese in 1961 to serve in various parishes and teach in local seminaries.
Bishop Bruskewitz then returned to Rome in 1965 to work on his doctorate degree, and served as an usher for the last conference of Vatican II, which had convened in 1962.
Returning to Wisconsin in 1967, he continued his studies and taught at Saint Francis Seminary, until he was awarded his doctorate in dogmatic theology in 1969. He was then assigned to the English desk in the seminary division of the Congregation for Catholic Education in the Roman Curia. He served there 11 years before returning to Wisconsin once more, as pastor of St. Bernard Parish. As a pastor, Bishop Bruskewitz was an inspiring homilist and an exceptional catechist. Popular Catholic author Scott Hahn was received into the Church at Saint Bernard parish by the bishop in 1986.
Bishop Bruskewitz was summoned to Washington D.C. by pro-nuncio Cardinal Agostino Cacciavillan March 12, 1992, and learned Pope John Paul II had selected him to become the next Bishop of Lincoln. The announcement was made public March 24 and he was ordained May 13.
Bishop Bruskewitz’s episcopacy has seen the creation of not only diocesan parishes and schools, but also a collegiate seminary: St. Gregory the Great Seminary opened in 1998. The Diocese also opened Paul VI Heights, a diocesan-sponsored affordable housing development, in 1997; Camp Kateri Tekakwitha in 2001; and St. Gianna’s Women’s Homes in 2011. The Diocese of Lincoln completed the sponsorship of Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital in 1995.
Bishop Bruskewitz also initiated the updating of policy re-initiating daily Mass at all diocesan elementary schools, and Catholic education curriculum was updated for all Catholic schools and CCD programs in 2009. Bishop Bruskewitz oversaw a diocesan synod in 1996 and Eucharistic Congress, a weekend Jubilee Year celebration in 2000, and a diocesan pilgrimage in 2000.
A long-time supporter of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter, an order of priests dedicated to the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church, Bishop Bruskewitz was pleased to welcome the group to Denton, where they built a seminary in 1999.
A prolific writer, Bishop Bruskewitz compiled two books from his “An Ordinary Viewpoint” column in the diocesan newspaper, “A Shepherd Speaks” in 1997, and “The Catholic Church: Jesus Christ Present in the World,” in 2007. He also, with longtime friend Cardinal William Levada, translated the 2006 English translation of the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Bishop Bruskewitz also authored the booklet “God’s Plan for You: Understanding Your Personal Vocation” in 2008.
Chapters of various organizations joined the Diocese in the last 20 years: the Knights and Ladies of the Holy Sepulchre in 1995; the Catholic Lawyers Guild in 1995; the Blessed Gianna Beretta Molla Guild/Catholic Medical Association in 1998; the Catholic Planned Giving Office in 1997 and the Catholic Foundation in 1999; Legatus for Catholic business leaders in 2005; the Schoenstatt Movement, with the construction of a shrine in 2007; TEC and Light of the World; Magnificat, and many more.
Bishop Bruskewitz submitted his letter of retirement to the Vatican on his 75th birthday in 2010, as is directed by Canon Law. .