Archbishop Jerome Listecki was installed on January 4 as the 11th Archbishop of Milwaukee at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, filling the seat left vacant by Archbishop Timothy Dolan, who was appointed to New York. In his first homily, the new archbishop called on his flock to “sacrifice for the truth.”
“There are many bishops and priests more intelligent, more talented and more deserving of this position than me,” said Archbishop Listecki lightheartedly on Monday. “I say this not with a false sense of humility but merely as fact.” The prelate continued to say however, that Pope Benedict XVI, “has made his selection and I accept his decision as God's will. Please note that I will use every ounce of my being to serve this great Archdiocese of Milwaukee.”
Drawing on the Gospel reading from John during his homily, the prelate recalled the story of Christ's “dramatic confrontation with St. Peter,” where He asks St. Peter three times if he loves Him. The archbishop continued to explain that followers of Christ are asked the same question along with St. Peter and are given a similar calling to present the truth in love.
“The Church presents the truth in charity,” said the prelate. “It is the truth of the (Church's) teaching that maintains our right relationship with Jesus.”
“Our teaching on the dignity of the human person embraces life from the moment of conception to natural death. It reflects the love of life entrusted to us. This sacredness which reflects the imago dei – the very image of God – it is this very life for which Christ came into the world to suffer, die and rise. Our social principles, our care for the poor, is mandated out of a love of neighbor, grounded in the love of God,” he explained.
The prelate also reminded his new flock of its responsibility to defend marriage and the family, saying that “in our protection of marriage and family life, an environment is created for the responsible transmission of the faith.”
“Adherence to the Church's teaching is not always easy,” remarked the archbishop. “However, one must sacrifice for the truth.”
“In this sacrifice we demonstrate our love.”
Born and raised in Chicago, Archbishop Listecki attended school locally and eventually began his graduate studies at the University of St. Mary of the Lake, Mundelein Seminary. He was ordained a priest in 1975. A few years later, he attended the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, Rome, earning a doctoral degree in Canon Law.
Fr. Listecki was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of La Crosse by the late Pope John Paul II in 2000 and was ordained a bishop in 2001. Before being appointed to lead the Church in Milwaukee, Archbishop Listecki served as the Bishop of LaCrosse, Wis., beginning in 2005.