Bishop James Conley: The Love of God is Found Precisely at the Foot of the Cross
They have encountered the Risen Lord and want to live in His Body the Church. They deeply appreciate and understand the gift of the fullness of the Catholic Faith and want to both know the teaching of the Church and live it fully. They are what I call "Catholic by Choice".
The Bishop entered the seminary four years after he graduated from College and was ordained for the Diocese of Wichita in 1985. He is one of the many treasures of the Church who were trained at Mount St Mary's in Emmitsburg.
He has a deep knowledge of - and devotion to - Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman, another noteworthy convert to the Catholic Church. His Episcopal motto is "cor ad cor loquitur," which means "heart speaks to heart". That was John Henry Cardinal Newman's motto as well.
As a priest, Fr. Conley served fruitfully as a College Chaplain and for ten years as an official in the Vatican Congregation for Bishops in Rome. His Episcopal service to the Church began in 2008 when he was ordained an auxiliary in the Archdiocese of Denver under Archbishop Charles Chaput.
It was during the time he was in Denver that I had the privilege of meeting Bishop Conley. What was immediately evident in the encounter was his deep, personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. He is a man of great personal and pastoral warmth. Immediately upon meeting him you feel welcomed and cared for.
He has a gift of evangelical joy which catches you in its hopeful grasp and shakes any cynicism out of your weary bones. Let's face it, these are trying times and the struggle can wear on you. When you encounter this Bishop, you just want to be in his presence. The experience reminded me of how people must have experienced Jesus when they encountered him. That should have come as no surprise I guess. This is a truly holy man.
However, like so many of the episcopal appointments being made by His Holiness Benedict XVI, Bishop Conley possesses that dynamic living faith so vitally important in the times in which we live. He has had that "encounter" with the Lord which Pope Benedict so often addresses. He is, in the best sense of the phrase, an "evangelical" Catholic. In that regard, he reminds me of another great Bishop, the president of the Bishops conference, Cardinal Timothy Dolan.
So, I was not at all surprised when the new Bishop of Lincoln quoted the Cardinal Archbishop of New York in his homily at the installation: "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,"
Clearly the New Evangelization has taken root in the heart and the ministry of Bishop James Conley. The faithful of the Diocese of Lincoln have received a tremendous gift from the Lord.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Bishop James Conley, Diocese of Lincoln, New Evangelization, dynamic orthodoxy, Pope Benedict XVI, St Gregory the Great Seminary, Bishops, Benedicts Bishops, Deacon Keith Fournier
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