Biography and Profile
Bishop James Alan
Bishop for the Diocese of the Northwest
Bishop James Alan Wilkowski was born in Chicago, Illinois
on November 18, 1953. He is the son of Warren and Mary Sertich Wilkowski.
The Bishop's father was a 45 year employee of Wisconsin Steel Works which
was part of the International Harvester Company in Chicago. The Bishop's
parents meet while his mother also worked in the mail department at
Wisconsin Steel. During the era of the Depression and WWII, the Bishop's
mother worked at an airplane assembly plant in Chicago before going to work
at Wisconsin Steel.
Growing up in the 10th Ward of the Southeast Side of
Chicago, the Bishop graduated from George Washington Elementary School and
later from James H. Bowen High School - the same high school where the
Bishop's father and paternal uncles also graduated from. The Bishop
received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Governors State University in
Social Studies education.
The Bishop began his formational journey at the age of 27
when he entered Sacred Heart School of Theology in Hales Corners Wisconsin
under the sponsorship of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Joliet. After
rejecting the sexual advances of a priest on the formation team at Sacred
Heart, James was manipulated into leaving active studies to take a parish
assignment back in the Diocese of Joliet until such time as he would be
welcomed back to Sacred Heart to complete his studies. When the Diocese of
Joliet chose not to continue its sponsorship, James transferred to the
Diocese of Jefferson City Missouri and continued his academic studies at
Kenrick Seminary and took on the extra academic responsibilities of working
simultaneously towards a Masters of Pastoral Studies at Loyola University in
Chicago. In 1988, he was awarded his Masters of Pastoral Studies from
Loyola and also his Masters of Divinity from Kenrick Seminary.
During his last year at Kenrick, a priest from the Diocese
of Jefferson City became a sexual blackmailer and abuser forced himself into
James' life at seminary. After all of his academic requirements at Kenrick
were fulfilled, James reported the abuse to the seminary and to his director
of vocation, the future Bishop Anthony J. O'Connell, who promised his
attention to the matter but did nothing. After graduation from Kenrick,
James was assigned to St. Brendan's Church in Mexico Missouri to await the
date of the ordination as Deacon. On October 31, 1988, James was summoned
to the office of Bishop Michael McAuliffe to be notified that his reporting
of the sexual abuse and blackmail done to him had caused "consternation
within the internal forum of the diocese" and plans for his ordination as
Deacon were cancelled. James was to vacate the rectory at St. Brendan's
within 24 hours and return to Chicago. A check was handed to James for
$250.00 - a check that James placed back upon Bishop McAuliffe's desk and
walked out of his office and returned to Chicago.
Upon returning to private life, James resumed his career in
education and enjoyed the prerogatives of private life and mortgage
But not for long - for private life was not the vocation
which God had in mind for James.
Reverend Robert W. Martin & The Most Reverend Mark Shirilau
In the summer of 1995, James' life accidentally crossed
paths with Bishop Robert W. Martin and Archbishop Mark Sharilau of the
Ecumenical Catholic Church when a former classmate of James' was being
ordained to the priesthood in Illinois by Bishop Martin. This chance
meeting with Bishop Martin lead to a rediscovery of James' vocation to the
priesthood and on May 25th, 1996, James Wilkowski was ordained to the
priesthood by Bishop Martin, in Chicago, surround by his parents, family and
As per the nature within the independent or autocephalous
catholic movement - James' ordination to the priesthood coincided with the
establishment of the Mission Church of the Holy Family in Chicago and James
as its founding pastor. After all of the celebrations surrounding his
ordination were completed, James began the hard work at nurturing and
developing Holy Family.
Within the next 12 months, James was to experience two more
significant life changing events.
In December of 1996, James was informed by Bishop Martin
that the church community was going to be restructured into four new mission
dioceses and that James was being named Bishop for the newly established
Mission Diocese of the Northwest. This news came as a complete surprise to
James, but he accepted the call from his community to serve as one of its
Shortly after informing his parents of the news as to his
election as bishop, James' 83 year old father fell ill with a ruptured
appendix. Due to the factor of age and an inability to thrive after surgery,
Warren Wilkowski died on May 12th, 1997, thirteen days shy of his son's
first anniversary of priesthood ordination.
On July 7th, 1997, with a rose placed upon the seat of an
empty chair next to his mother, James Alan Wilkowski was consecrated Bishop
and was seated as the founding bishop for the newly created Evangelical
Catholic Diocese of the Northwest.
Since his consecration, Bishop Wilkowski has remained
focused on the goals of building and developing Holy Family parish in
Chicago and educating the public to the role and mission of this catholic
faith community. Bishop Wilkowski has become an social and pastoral
advocate for the rights and needs of military veterans, along with all those
who suffer from social and pastoral marginalization.
Since 1997, Bishop Wilkowski consecrated one bishop. To
date, Bishop Wilkowski has ordained three candidates to the priesthood and
is always willing to talk about vocations to the priesthood and religious
life to anyone who is interested.
On July 19, 2006, Mary Wilkowski was unable to overcome her
eleven month struggle with colon cancer. She died peacefully at the age of
85 with her son at her bedside. A few days later the Bishop celebrated her
Mass of Christian Burial.
Less than a year after the death of his mother, the Bishop
underwent emergency quintuple heart by-pass surgery on June 18th, 2007 in
Chicago. Following a period of recovery and cardio-rehab therapy, the
bishop resumed his schedule that October.
Today, the Bishop continues to embrace a full schedule of
In January of 2009, the Bishop published his most recent
pastoral letter entitled,
"Blessed are The Workers: The Importance of Protecting Labor"
In 2010, Bishop Wilkowski
resumed the responsibilities as Presiding Bishop for the Evangelical
The Bishop continues to host his annual Bishop's Dinner and
Awards Ceremony and has once again begun producing the television series
Evangelical Catholic Life for Chicago public access television.
The Bishop can be reached by email at
firstname.lastname@example.org and you can visit the home page of
the Evangelical Catholic Diocese of the Northwest for the latest pastoral
news and events.
Please visit the Bishop's Blog at
And, of course, all are welcomed to visit the Church of the
Holy Family in Chicago for Mass on Saturday's at 4:00 PM.