How to stay in touch with Bishop Conley
By Julie Filby
Photo by James Baca/DCR
Though Bishop James Conley is leaving the Centennial State for the Cornhusker State next month, he’ll remain in the hearts of Coloradans, as well as just a click away on their electronic devices.
In a conversation with the Denver Catholic Register in his south Denver office Oct. 16, Bishop Conley said he is using digital media not only to introduce himself to his new flock in Lincoln, but to help “keep in touch with my former flock in Denver.”
He has a Facebook page with more than 2,200 “friends” and recently started using Twitter. Facebook is an online social network of more than 1 billion users who after “friending” other users share messages and photos. Twitter, another social network, allows users to send text-based messages of up to 140 characters called “tweets.”
With these tools, Bishop Conley posts links to his recent addresses, homilies and other items of interest. As a leader in the Church today, he sees the significance of online communication to reach people.
“Our Holy Father really encourages us to use every means we can to evangelize to bring the message of Christ and his Church to the world,” he said. “As more and more people are using social media and the digital communication world for their sources, we’ve got to be there… it’s a way to reach a lot of people.”
While being present online, he stressed the importance of maintaining balance.
“(Online communication) is a means to an end, not an end in itself,” he said. “The end of course is deeper union with Christ, a deeper relationship with the Lord and with each other.
“We never want to lose that human contact, face-to-face, heart-to-heart,” he said referring to his episcopal motto, “cor ad cor loquitur,” (“heart speaks to heart”).
He makes sure “screen time” doesn’t take up too much time each day.
A self-described “Apple Guy,” Bishop Conley has an iPhone, iPad and a Mac Book Pro laptop.
He shared examples of when these gadgets have, and will continue to, come in handy.
“I was asked to do Benediction in (Madrid) Spain for World Youth Day (2011) and I didn’t have any English prayers for Benediction,” he relayed. “So I used my phone to pull up the prayers for Benediction and meditation for eucharistic adoration (using the iPieta application).”
He said iPieta—loaded with the Bible, liturgical calendars, a seemingly endless list of prayers and a database of saints—is a “great Catholic app.” He also has the iBreviary app, which contains the full Divine Office, installed on his phone for traveling. It was the first iPhone app approved by the Vatican Council for Social Communications.
Stay in touch with Bishop Conley
The young adult Catholic community said a special goodbye to the bishop in a video posted on One Billion Stories. Watch “Bishop James Conley, thanks for the memories in Denver.”
He anticipates using audio books, podcasts and music while traveling in his new diocese, an area that stretches the entire length of southern Nebraska.
“I have a feeling I’m going to be on the road a lot because I’m going to be covering a larger geographic area,” he said. “It’s seven hours from east to west.”
He’s currently listening to Eric Metaxas’ 2007 book “Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery,” and he has a lot of Blessed John Henry Newman in his audio book library.
Some of the music loaded on his iTunes playlists includes soulful singer-songwriter Van Morrison, folk rock band Mumford and Sons and folk pop artist Brett Dennen.
“My favorite new band is the Avett Brothers,” he said of the band whose sound combines bluegrass, country, punk, pop, folk, rock, honky tonk and ragtime.
Podcasts he listens to include homilies from his friend and mentor former Denver Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap, now archbishop of Philadelphia; and Father Robert Barron of Word On Fire ministries.
Goodbye and Hello
The young adult Catholic community in Denver recently made a going away gift for Bishop Conley: a video created by OneBillionStories.com founder Seth DeMoor. The video “Thanks for the Memories in Denver,” set to Van Morrison’s “Into the Mystic,” has not only served to thank the bishop for his ministry in Denver since 2008, but has been widely shared in the Lincoln Diocese as a way of introducing their new shepherd. The video can be viewed at www.OneBillionStories.com.