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New auxiliary bishop for archdiocese

By Mary Claire Gart

When Father Jerome E. Listecki was officially installed as pastor of St. Ignatius Parish just two weeks ago, parishioners expected him to be heading the Far North Side parish for several years to come.

Fr. Jerome E. Listecki
What they didn’t know—and he wasn’t permitted to tell them—was that he would soon be named an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Chicago.

Just four days before his Oct. 29 installation, the 51-year-old priest was informed that Pope John Paul II had chosen him as a new auxiliary bishop.

When Cardinal George announced the appointment and introduced the bishop-designate at a press conference Nov. 7, he said Bishop-designate Listecki would remain at St. Ignatius for “a few months at least,” then would take responsibility for one of the six vicariates or geographical regions that make up the Archdiocese of Chicago.

Bishop-designate Listecki will be ordained to the episcopacy on Jan. 8, when he will receive the office of teaching, governing and sanctifying as a bishop. As an auxiliary bishop, he will assist Cardinal George in the pastoral administration of the archdiocese. He will also be titular bishop of the ancient see of Nara.

Asked about his reaction to the news, the bishop-designate said, “I was more in shock than anything else.” But he was also “humbled and proud,” he said.

Humbled, because he had “the good fortune of studying in Rome and being selected, knowing the goodness that is present in the presbyterate of Chicago” and “proud to serve under Cardinal George and to be formed by the other auxiliary bishops in the archdiocese.”

Nonetheless, the bishop-designate said, he was more than content in his former role.

“I could have died a happy priest serving at St. Ignatius—‘a drop-dead gorgeous church.’ I wanted to be a priest since I was 3 years old and I would like to encourage other young men considering the priesthood and tell them what a wonderful life it is.”

The Chicago-born priest, of Polish heritage, grew up on the Southeast Side. He attended St. Michael the Archangel School and then Quigley Preparatory Seminary South. While studying at Niles College of Loyola University, he spent his summers working in the steel mills.

He completed his studies for the priesthood at St. Mary of the Lake Seminary and was ordained May 14, 1975.

His first assignment was as associate pastor at St. Margaret Mary Parish for a year. In 1976, he was appointed dean of students at Quigley Preparatory Seminary North, and resided at Mater Christi Parish, North Riverside.

From 1979 to 1983, he studied canon law and moral theology in Rome, earning a licentiate and doctorate from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas. Bishop-designate Listecki also holds a law degree from DePaul University.

Returning from Rome in 1983, he joined the faculty of the major seminary and spent 17 years there teaching moral theology. He has served as an appellate judge on the archdiocesan Matrimonial Tribunal and as in-house counsel for the archdiocese.

He is a member of the Illinois Bar Association, the Chicago Bar Association, the Catholic Theological Society of America, the Canon Law Society and the Catholic Scholars of America.

Many television viewers of the “Mass for Shut-ins” remember him as a frequent celebrant of the Mass when the program was aired on WGN-TV. He also served as host for “Catholic Conversation” radio program, which was broadcast by WIND, 1978-79.

Bishop-designate Listecki is chaplain in the U.S. Army Reserve as well as chaplain for the Catholic Physicians Guild of Chicago. He serves on the Archdiocesan Medical Ethics Board and recently was appointed as associate liaison for health care under Auxiliary Bishop Edwin M. Conway.

He celebrated his 25th anniversary in the priesthood June 11 with a Mass at St. Elizabeth Seton Church, Orland Hills.

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