Aloysius John Wycislo
June 17, 1908 – October 12, 2005
June 17, 1908 – October 12, 2005
Aloysius John Wycislo was born on June 17, 1908, to Simon and Victoria Czech Wycislo in Chicago, Illinois. He attended St. Mary Elementary School in Cicero, Illinois; Archbishop Quigley Preparatory Seminary (high school) in Chicago; Mundelein Seminary at the University of St. Mary of the Lake in Mundelein, Illinois; and Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. (master’s degree in social work). He was ordained a presbyter on April 7, 1934, by Cardinal George Mundelein at the University of St. Mary of the Lake, Mundelein, Illinois. On December 21, 1960, he was consecrated a bishop and served as auxiliary bishop to Cardinal Albert Meyer of the Archdiocese of Chicago. On March 8, 1968, Pope Paul VI named him eighth bishop of the Diocese of Green Bay. He was formally installed in the Diocese on April 16, 1968. On June 17, 1983 (his 75th birthday), Bishop Wycislo submitted his letter of resignation to the Holy See. He died on October 11, 2005. His Episcopal motto was: “Caritati Instate” (Be Steadfast in Charity).
Associate Pastor, St. Michael Church, Chicago, June 1934 to June 1939. While there, he organized a youth center with hopes of resolving youth delinquency problems.
Assistant Archdiocesan Supervisor, Catholic Charities of Chicago, 1939 to 1943. Appointed by Cardinal Samuel Stritch, Archbishop of Chicago, to begin graduate studies in social work at Catholic University in Washington, D.C., in preparation for assignment as assistant archdiocesan supervisor of Catholic Charities.
Field Director, Catholic Relief Services, New York, 1943 to 1948. Served in the Middle East, India and Africa. This was the era of World War II, and then-Father Wycislo and his staff of 125 people were responsible for resettling between 600,000 and 700,000 war refugees.
At the end of the war, Wycislo moved his headquarters to Paris where he supervised civilian relief efforts and organized the movement of Displaced Persons and Refugees in the Middle East, Italy, Germany and Austria from 1945 to 1955. He also organized relief and development programs in France, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Romania during that same period.
During his years with Catholic Relief Services, Bishop Wycislo was named a Knight Chaplain of the Order of Malta and Knight Commander with Star of the Holy Sepulchre. He has received honors from Poland, Spain and France.
Assistant Executive Director, Catholic Relief Services, New York, 1948 to 1958. He traveled to missions in South America and Central America, then to the Far East, China and the Philippines. He organized Relief and Rehabilitation programs in South America and Central America between 1955 and 1958.
Vatican Observer to the United Nations in New York, 1954 to 1956.
Pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, Chicago, April 1959. Assigned by Cardinal Albert Meyer of the Archdiocese of Chicago to serve as pastor to one of the larger parishes in the city. In December of that year he was appointed Domestic Prelate to His Holiness Pope John XXIII.
Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago, October 1960. Appointed Bishop by Pope John XXIII and consecrated a Bishop by Cardinal Albert Meyer on December 21, 1960, at Holy Name Cathedral, Chicago. Bishop Wycislo felt it was unfortunate that his mother didn’t live to be present for his consecration as a Bishop. She would have been extremely happy because, on the day of his first Mass as a priest, she told him that she had prayed every day since his baptism that he would become a priest.
September 1962 – Cardinal Albert Meyer of the Archdiocese of Chicago asked Bishop Wycislo to direct the Chicagoland observance of Poland’s millennium of Christianity. Bishop Wycislo handled all the preparations including arrangements for the presence of the Primate of Poland, Cardinal Stefen Wyszynski, who served Poland during the Communist occupation period and was imprisoned from 1953 to 1956 for his religious position within the church.
Second Vatican Council, 1962 to 1965. Bishop Wycislo was a Council Father from the first session of the Second Vatican Council, which opened Oct. 11, 1962, to the concluding liturgy for the entire Council, Dec. 8, 1965.
In addition to attending all the sessions, he served as a member of the American Bishops’ Commissions on the Lay Apostolate and on the Missions and the Oriental Church. He met and became friends with Karol Wojtyla, then archbishop of Krakow, Poland, and who became Pope John Paul II.
Bishop of Green Bay, 1968 to 1983. On March 8, 1968, Bishop Wycislo was appointed by Pope Paul VI as Bishop of Green Bay, which had been without a bishop since the death of Bishop Stanislaus Bona on Dec. 1, 1967. The Pope’s representative, Archbishop Luigi Raimondi, installed Bishop Wycislo to that office on April 16, 1968, in a ceremony at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral, Green Bay.
The installation of Bishop Wycislo was the first such ceremony to be conducted entirely in English rather than Latin. It was also the first such ceremony to be televised live. WBAY-TV aired the special program and also set up a wide screen television in its auditorium to accommodate the overflow of invited guests.
Bishop Wycislo’s experiences with the Second Vatican Council involved a very close relationship with Cardinal Albert Meyer, one of the shining intellectual lights of that council. In the statement regarding Bishop Wycislo’s appointment as Bishop of Green Bay, Cardinal John Cody, who succeeded Cardinal Meyer in Chicago, characterized Bishop Wycislo as a “zealous pastoral Bishop” whom the priests and people of the Green Bay Diocese will be fortunate to have lead them in development according to the spirit of Second Vatican Council.
This statement proved true. In those first days of the “new Church” in this part of Wisconsin, there was some pain, a bit of trial, but always progress. Bishop Wycislo’s tenure was characterized as a pastoral and people-centered leadership. His reputation as a builder “was not in brick and mortar, but in people.” (Father Orville Janssen, biographer, In His Vineyard)
The Permanent Diaconate (the order of deacons) was established as one of the first such programs in the nation. In addition, lay persons began participating in policy-making decisions through the Diocesan Pastoral Council, and new boundary lines were drawn within the diocese for administrative purposes. The new geographical division, called the vicariate system, is led by vicars who are appointed by the Bishop. Each vicar works with a council of lay persons from each parish.
Under the leadership of Bishop Wycislo there developed a strong thrust in areas of social concerns. To fund the growing ministries that were beyond the scope of services offered by the traditional departments of Education and Catholic Charities, Bishop Wycislo initiated a Diocesan Services Appeal, an annual fund-raising effort, in 1970.
In an epilogue to his Chrism Mass homily in 1983 (the year of his retirement), Bishop expressed the great dignity of the priesthood in these words: “Come to think of it, Christ came to that Upper Room only twice; once on Holy Thursday, when He left to the Apostles, together with the Eucharist, the sacrament of ministerial priesthood; after His resurrection again when He said to His first priests, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit: whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them, and whose sins you shall retain they are retained.’ Come to think of it, three extraordinary gifts -- the Eucharist, the priesthood and the power to forgive sins -- the singular intensity of these sends me to my knees in awe of the responsibilities entrusted to me, a priest.”
Many of Bishop Wycislo’s achievements are recognized in the works that implement the directives of the Second Vatican Council in the Diocese of Green Bay. They include:
• Change of the Priests’ Association to the Presbyteral Council and Senate; provision for retirement plans and health insurance for all priests; and a formal Ministry to Priests program.
• Establishment of the Permanent Diaconate and encouragement of all forms of lay ministry.
• Division of the diocese into geographical regions (vicariates) for administrative purposes.
• A stronger thrust in the areas of social concern, e.g., development of the Seafarer’s Ministry for the port of Green Bay; resettlement and immigration services; commissions for youth and scouting; ministry to the deaf and handicapped; pro-life concerns; and a ministry for American Indians.
• Development of the Green Bay Plan, a series of catechetical instructions that were widely used as an exemplary model.
• Televised coverage of a weekly Sunday Mass and other worship services of the Church.
• Initiation of liturgical reforms that help to make the worship more meaningful.
• Rewriting of marriage guidelines; family counseling services established; development of a task force on human sexuality.
• Initiation of a grassroots evangelization program called RENEW, which aided parish members in understanding their faith.
• Ecumenical Commission activity to promote Christian unity.
• A Justice and Peace Commission, helping to clarify Christian values in these issues.
Retirement. Bishop Wycislo spent most of his retirement years teaching and celebrating the Sacraments. He formally taught at St. Norbert College in De Pere, and he informally taught through his numerous speaking engagements at parishes, schools and clubs. He is the author of many books, most recently “Saint Peter: Fisherman, Apostle, Missionary” (2004).
Death. Bishop Wycislo died on Tuesday, October 11, 2005, at age 97, after a brief bout with double pneumonia. As recently as two weeks prior to his death, he was giving presentations and working on his books. During his hospitalization five days prior to dying he remained alert and in good spirits. And through the simple gesture of elevating his hands, Bishop Wycislo communicated to those who were at his bedside that he was ready to enter eternal life.
Tribute prepared by the Diocese of Greenbay, WI.