Listecki takes Shepherd’s staff to lead Milwaukee Catholics
The Most Reverend Jerome Listecki was elevated to Archbishop of the Milwaukee Diocese at 2:19 this afternoon, after the Papal Nuncio to the United States read a letter from Pope Benedict XVI. The official pronouncement read, “We choose you to be suitable to govern this metropolitan city … we release you from the bond of the church of La Crosse and appoint you to be Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, so they may know who it is that they must be guided by on the path to eternal salvation.”
Soon after, the newly appointed archbishop ascended to the cathedra, or bishop’s chair, at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in downtown Milwaukee.
As the first archbishop of Milwaukee of Polish heritage, Listecki is the fulfillment of a century old battle to elevate a Pole to lead the faithful. And while his installation included a reading in Polish, 10 other cultures and ethnic groups were represented in the service and mass.
In his first homily as Archbishop, Listecki repeated the question Jesus Christ asked the Apostle Peter, “Do you love me?”
Listecki explained that only through love – love personified by tending, feeding and loving Christ’s sheep, would the church and its members be able to understand and live the sacrificial love of Christ on the cross.
“The inspired word of God, although centered on the figures in the event depicted in Sacred Scripture, actually speaks through Peter to all of us. It is as if we are standing with Peter and Jesus is asking us, do you love me more than these?” Listecki explained.
He did not hide his conservative beliefs that the love of God is grounded in the protection of marriage and in human life. Listecki has often spoken out against Catholics who violate church teachings on abortion and divorce, to the point of threatening to withhold the sacrament of Holy Communion from elected officials who support abortion.
He ended his explanation of love, by encouraging his flock to partake of the church’s sacraments and remember them as signs of God’s grace and the gift of Christ.
Listecki is a native of Chicago. He was ordained a priest on May 14, 1975. In 1976, Listecki earned a civil law degree from DePaul University, Chicago, and a doctoral degree in Canon Law in 1981 from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, Rome. In addition, Listecki is also a retired lieutenant colonel in the United States Army Reserves.
Archbishop Listecki’s coat of arms was designed by his good friend the Reverend Anthony Brankin, and reflects his personal heritage, his life as a priest and as a bishop.
His deep devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is reflected in the predominance of the color red on the shield. The remainder of the design consists of silver (white) which, along with the red, are the colors of the Polish national flag honoring the Polish ethnic heritage that has come to him from his parents.
The dominant charge in the design is an open book, reflecting Listecki’s baptismal patron, St. Jerome, who is credited with the translation of the Sacred Scriptures into Latin. The book of laws is emblematic that Listecki is both a civil and canonical lawyer.
For his motto, Listecki choose the phrase, “LIFE IS CHRIST.” The phrase comes from Philippians 1:18-26 expressing the Archbishop’s deep belief that, for Catholic Christians, every aspect of life is necessarily intertwined with faith and belief in Jesus Christ and the need to respect life, so endangered in today’s society.