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Catholic diocese welcomes new bishop
It looks like a trading card. It's actually a prayer card with the picture of the newest Bishop of Lincoln James Conley. It includes his name and date of installation.
But, it doesn't include his background on how he arrived in Lincoln and what he wants to accomplish as the newest Nebraska Bishop.
He's the new voice for the Catholic Church in the Diocese of Lincoln.
But, the route to become the 9th bishop has been an unusual one for Reverend James Conley.
"I grew up in a very loving family, a very Christian family but we just didn't go to church."
Conley grew up in the Presbyterian Church, only attending Church on Christmas and Easter. It wasn't until he was in College at the University of Kansas did the Bishop begin to learn about Catholicism.
"I discovered Christianity in the Catholic Church through literature."
That experience is what has shaped his life, converting to Catholicism his junior year of college which paved the way for him to become just the second known convert to the Catholic faith to be named a Bishop for the Church in the United States.
One of the main jobs Bishop Conley has now is overseeing the Catholic school system in the Diocese of Lincoln. And while some Catholic schools across the country maybe closing their doors, here in the Diocese of Lincoln there are no worries.
"The trend in Lincoln at least has been the opposite of what has gone on in the United States. There's probably been more schools opened here in the last 10-15 years than closed."
The 9th Bishop of Lincoln knows in order to buck the trend the Diocese must find ways to make a Catholic education more valuable."
"If we are not offering something better, better for them educationally, better for them spiritually, then we shouldn't even be in the education business."
Another duty facing the newly Installed Bishop is fighting the contraceptive mandates in the new Affordable Healthcare Act requiring the Catholic Church to cover birth control, sterilization, and abortion induced drugs.
The Bishop wants to see a broader exemption for the Catholic Church.
"One thing that we won't do is comply because it's too much of who we are as Catholics and those are intrinsic evils and we can have nothing to do with those intrinsic evils."
In the past, the Diocese of Lincoln has been known for its conservative views. That shouldn't change with Conley in charge.
"I'm a traditional kind of guy."
And his stance on birth control follows that.
"In our health conscience stage where we are so concerned about our bodies and what we eat and what we put into our bodies here we have these very powerful drugs that cause all these kinds of side effects and yet people use these to prevent pregnancy."
But, Conley also admits he'll need to be more modern to move the Diocese forward. He's already begun that transformation by jumping on board with social networking.
"Every age has to adapt to the means of communication technology that people are using."
While Bishop Conley uses twitter and Facebook, he still believes nothing can be a substitute for personal encounters.
The new Bishop just returned from the Vatican where he witnessed the Pope sending out his first tweet.
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