“I reflected many times on his journey to Egypt with Mary and the baby Jesus, and how much faith, trust and dependence upon God’s providence that must have taken. The virtue of perseverance was also a hallmark of St. Joseph, which was manifested during the arduous trip to Bethlehem and the strenuous flight to Egypt.”
St. Joseph is also the patron saint of a good death. Conley said his mother’s health began to decline in 2020, and he prayed to St. Joseph “for her happy death, and he came through.”
He said he was able to anoint her and give her the apostolic pardon several times before she died in December 2020.
Conley concluded by noting Pope Francis’ proclamation of the year of St. Joseph, and reminded the faithful that there are several ways to receive a plenary indulgence during the special year.
In March 2019, Conley was diagnosed with major depression disorder at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and soon began counseling and medication. However, he said, trying to pursue help on top of his episcopal duties only further deteriorated his mental state.
He also was diagnosed with depression, chronic insomnia, and debilitating tinnitus - a constant ringing in the ears. After meeting with several fellow bishops, Conley says he was convinced he needed a break from episcopal duties.
In announcing his leave of absence, Conley said he was sharing information about his health in the hopes of helping to lift the stigma associated with mental health issues.
During his sabbatical, Conley attended sessions with a Catholic psychotherapist, his spiritual director, a Catholic psychologist, and a medical doctor. Additionally, he said, he regularly engaged in exercise, such as golf and hikes, and social interactions with very close friends.
Since Conley returned to his office Nov. 13, 2020, the bishop has continued to pursue self-care practices and make changes in his life to maintain his mental health.