Last year, I wrote on Where Peter Is that Bishop James Conley of the Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska had taken a leave of absence to receive treatment for depression and anxiety. This is, as far as I know, almost without precedent for a bishop in the era of modern mental health treatment. At the time I also read several news articles on other websites covering Bishop Conley’s decision. Many attracted some very thoughtful, prayerful comments wishing him well. On some, people thanked him for his example of taking his mental health seriously–as I did in my own essay.
I’m pleased to report that, according to the Diocese of Lincoln, Bishop Conley returned to work on Friday, November 13. Catholic News Agency has run a very kind, sensitive interview with Bishop Conley here. Conley cites John XXIII’s famous prayer “Lord, it’s Your Church; I’m going to bed” as an influence on his decision to seek treatment, and thanks several of his brother bishops for supporting him in this decision.
Towards the end of the CNA interview, Bishop Conley gives a piece of very straightforward, concrete advice that I would like to quote for the edification of Where Peter Is’s readership.
You don’t live to work, you need to work to live. And some people, especially in America today, we have this mentality of pragmatism or utilitarianism, where you’re working 18 hours a day…that’s no way to live life.
Bishop Conley deserves our thanks for his witness on the importance of caring for one’s mental health. He has demonstrated this both by his personal example and by his words in this interview. I look forward to seeing how his journey over the past few years informs his teaching office going forward. That his treatment went well is wonderful news, and I will be praying for him as he resumes the work of governing his diocese.
Image: Bishop James D. Conley. Image on the website of the Diocese of Lincoln.