Most Rev. James D. Conley, D.D., S.T.L.

Bishop of the Diocese of Lincoln

Born March 19, 1955, in Kansas City, Mo., Bishop Conley is the son of the late Betty and Carl Conley, long-time residents of Overland Park, Kan., a suburb of Kansas City. When he was two years old, his family moved to Denver, Colo., and then two years later moved to Arvada, Colo., where Bishop Conley attended public school at Hoskinson Cottage School. The family moved back to Kansas when he was 8 years old and resided in Overland Park, where he attended public grade school and high school.

In 1973, Bishop Conley graduated from Shawnee Mission West High School in Overland Park and enrolled in the fall as a freshman at University of Kansas. While in college, he studied in the University of Kansas’s famous Integrated Humanities Program—the same program attended by Dr. Bob Carlson (one of WCC’s three founders and its original Academic Dean), and a program that exerted a tremendous influence on the curriculum, vision, and ethos of Wyoming Catholic.

He converted to the Catholic Church on Dec. 6, 1975, and his mentor and teacher in the Integrated Humanities Program, Professor John Senior, was his godfather. He graduated in 1977 with a bachelor’s degree in English literature, and three years later, he entered seminary for the Diocese of Wichita. He received philosophical formation at St. Pius X Seminary in Erlanger, Ky., and his theological formation at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md., where in 1985 he earned a master’s degree in divinity. 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.

On May 18, 1985, Bishop Conley was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Wichita. In 1991, 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. He had the privilege in 1991 of baptizing both his mother and father and receiving them into the Catholic Church.

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. Bishop Conley was called back to Wichita in 2006, and 0n April 10, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI announced his appointment as auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Denver. He was ordained to that role on May 30, 2008, the solemnity of the Sacred Heart.

In September, 2011, due to the appointment of Archbishop Chaput as archbishop of Philadelphia, Bishop Conley was named apostolic administrator of the Denver Archdiocese until Bishop Samuel Aquila was installed as archbishop of Denver in July of the following year. On Sept. 14, 2012, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Bishop Conley as the bishop of the Lincoln Diocese in Nebraska, and he was installed as the ninth Bishop of Lincoln on Nov. 20, 2012. Himself a convert to the Catholic faith, Bishop Conley 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 was the Commencement Speaker at Wyoming Catholic College’s 2014 Graduation ceremony, where he also received her Sedes Sapientia Award, given each year in recognition of “a Catholic who has made an outstanding contribution to articulating and defending the Faith in today’s Church.”