This morning the Vatican announced that Pope Benedict has appointed Msgr. James D. Conley of Wichita, Kansas as an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Denver. During a press conference in Denver today, Bishop-elect Conley spoke of how much he looks forward to serving in Denver and of his admiration for Archbishop Chaput, calling him a “big hero of mine over the years.”
In his 23 years as a priest, Bishop-elect James D. Conley, 53, has served the Catholic Church in a wide variety of ways—as pastor, college campus chaplain, director of Respect Life ministries, theology instructor and as a Vatican official.
Throughout all of these assignments, the Bishop-elect explains that 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-elect Conley, a convert to the Catholic faith, has chosen the same motto as the great 19th century English convert, John Henry Cardinal Newman, “cor ad cor loquitur” which means “heart speaks to heart.”
Speaking about the English churchman, Bishop-elect Conley said, “Cardinal Newman had a huge influence on my own conversion and in my vocation to the priesthood. He continues to be a kind of spiritual mentor to me.”
“For me, this motto teaches us that souls are won over to Christ, heart to heart, person to person, through goodness and friendship. Cardinal Newman once wrote that next to the influence of supernatural grace, the greatest influence over the human soul is the example of goodness and virtue in another person,” he said.
At the end of his remarks at this morning’s press conference, Msgr. Conley asked for the prayers of the Church in Northern Colorado that he might “assist your good archbishop with deep love, fidelity, and courage. And in return, I promise to pray for you and your families as we begin this journey together. God bless you.”
Archbishop Chaput welcomed the new Bishop-elect saying, “I'm grateful and very pleased for this appointment from the Holy See. Bishop-elect Conley has an extraordinary heart for the Church. He proved his skills as a pastor in Kansas. Before that, he served the global Catholic community with distinction in Rome. He has a keen mind and a warm sense of humor. He’s done wonderful work with young adults, and as a convert himself, his energy and enthusiasm for the Catholic faith are infectious. He’s a tremendous gift to the Church here in Colorado.”
The ordination of Msgr. Conley as a bishop will take place on May 30, 2008, which is the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.