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College of Arts and Sciences graduate named new Bishop of Colorado Springs

Rev. James GorkaWhen the Rev. James Golka, BA’89, was attending Creighton University in the 1980s, he and his friends had a name for themselves.

“We called ourselves The Dorks,” Fr. Golka says. “None of us were in fraternities. We were all good students. We would go bowling at midnight at one of the local bowling alleys.”

Though, he points out, they did excel athletically, finding success in intramural softball, football and basketball.

These are just a few of Fr. Golka’s many fond memories at Creighton — a period in his life he reflects on as he prepares to begin an important new chapter.

Fr. Golka, pastor and rector at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Grand Island, Nebraska, has been named by Pope Francis as the new bishop of the Diocese of Colorado Springs. He will be consecrated in his new role June 29.

“People ask, ‘How do you become a bishop?’” Fr. Golka says. “It wasn’t even on my radar. I had planned on continuing here at the cathedral for at least five more years. But, literally, I received a phone call out of the blue, and when the apostolic nuncio calls, your life can change with that one phone call.”

Fr. Golka grew up in Grand Island, the fourth of 10 children. After graduating high school, he decided to follow in the footsteps of his oldest brother and attend Creighton.

“When I entered Creighton, I wanted to study theology early on, because I was very interested in growing spiritually too,” Fr. Golka says. “From Day One, I was a theology major, and my plan was either to teach in college or at the high school level, or work, somehow, for the Church. Seminary was in the back of my mind, but I wasn’t considering it yet.”

While at Creighton, Fr. Golka began attending Mass daily with friends. And it was through the spiritual guidance offered by his mentors in the Jesuit community on campus — such as the Rev. Richard Hauser, SJ, and the Rev. Eddie Mathie, SJ — that Fr. Golka eventually made the decision to enter the priesthood.

After graduating from his undergraduate program, Fr. Golka participated in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, engaging in spiritual discernment while working with students on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

He eventually chose to enter the seminary in the Diocese of Grand Island and was ordained in 1994. His time with the Church has included stints as an associate pastor at St. James in Kearney, Nebraska and Holy Rosary parish in Alliance, Nebraska and pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Scottsbluff, Nebraska and St. Patrick’s Parish in North Platte, Nebraska.

He’s spent the last five years serving as pastor and rector of St. Mary’s Cathedral in Grand Island.

Though not a member of the Society of Jesus, Fr. Golka says the Jesuit education he received at Creighton has greatly shaped his spiritual development. During seminary, he received special permission to engage in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.

“I felt called to do them, and it was a great experience as a seminarian,” he says. “Five years ago, I had the opportunity to do them again, and that really prepared me for my next step, which was coming to Grand Island as rector and pastor of the cathedral.”

But throughout his life with the Church, he says, one practice has proven most important when it comes to his spiritual growth. “Learning how to trust God has been key,” he says.

“If I get out of the way and let God take care of things, it’s all going to be fine.”

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