Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska

Since his priestly ordination in 1985, 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."

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. 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 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.

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. 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.

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 Rev. Msgr. James D. Conley as auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Denver. As auxiliary bishop, he assisted Archbishop Chaput in the pastoral care of the archdiocese.

On Sept. 14, 2012, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Bishop Conley as the bishop of the Lincoln Diocese in Nebraska. Bishop Conley was installed as the ninth Bishop of Lincoln on Nov. 20, 2012 in the Cathedral of the Risen Christ in Lincoln.