Seventh Bishop of the Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph, 2015-current
“… The Love of Christ urges us on.” —2 Cor. 5:14
Bishop James V. Johnston, Jr., was born on October 16, 1959, in Knoxville, Tennessee. He is the oldest of the four children of Vann and Patricia (Huber) Johnston. Bishop Johnston attended St. Joseph Elementary School and graduated from Knoxville Catholic High School in 1977. During his youth, he was active in the Boy Scouts, achieving the rank of Eagle Scout. In 2005, Bishop Johnston and two other priests were awarded the Citizens Award for Bravery by the U.S. Department of the Interior for helping to save a family in danger of plunging over a waterfall in Glacier National Park.
Bishop Johnston attended the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, and obtained a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering in 1982. From 1982-1985, he worked in Houston, Texas, for an engineering consulting firm and for an electric utility. In 1985, he left his occupation to pursue a call to the priesthood. Bishop Johnston attended St. Meinrad School of Theology in Indiana and obtained his Master of Divinity degree in 1990. He was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Knoxville on June 9, 1990, at Holy Ghost Church in Knoxville, his home parish.
Bishop Johnston pursued graduate studies at the Catholic University of America, where he obtained a Licentiate in Canon Law (1996). He served as Chancellor and Moderator of the Curia for the Diocese of Knoxville, as well as served in parish ministry. On March 31, 2008, he was ordained the sixth bishop of the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau.
Since his episcopal ordination, Catholic Charities of Southern Missouri has been established, offering aid to thousands across the southern portion of Missouri and beyond, including many mothers and babies at LifeHouse Crisis Maternity Home in Springfield. In 2011, Trinity Hills Catholic Worker House and Farm was instituted for prayer, service, and formation. Bishop Johnston endeavored a historical first in August of 2014: After a year-long envisioning process, he traveled some 2,300 miles in 17 days to visit each parish and mission church in the diocese establishing its new vision, priorities, and goals: “One Church, East to West: Loving Jesus, Serving Jesus, Sharing Jesus.”
At the time of his ordination and installation as Bishop, the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau had six men in studies and formation for the priesthood. With a deliberate and a proactive approach, the Diocese currently has 16 men discerning a call to the priesthood at four seminaries in three states.
Since 2008, four Catholic radio stations have been launched in the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau: Dexter, Joplin, Salem, and Springfield.
Pope Francis appointed Bishop Johnston to lead the Kansas City – St. Joseph diocese on September 15, 2015 and on November 4, 2015 he was installed as Seventh Bishop of the Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph.
Bishop Johnston is a fourth degree Knight of Columbus. He is also a member of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.