About the Bishop
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 October 16, 1959, in Knoxville, Tennessee, the oldest of the four children of Vann and Patricia (Huber) Johnston. He 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.
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. 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.
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 in parish ministry. On March 31, 2008, he was ordained the sixth bishop of the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau.
While bishop of the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, Catholic Charities of Southern Missouri was established to offer aid to thousands across the southern portion of Missouri and beyond, including many mothers and babies at LifeHouse Crisis Maternity Home in Springfield. Four Catholic radio stations were launched (Dexter, Joplin, Salem and Springfield) within the diocese, and 2011 saw the debut of Trinity Hills Catholic Worker House and Farm for prayer, service and formation. With a deliberate and a proactive approach, the number of men discerning a call to the priesthood increased from six to 16. Johnston also endeavored a historical first in August of 2014: traveling 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.”
Pope Francis appointed Johnston to lead the Kansas City – St. Joseph diocese on September 15, 2015, and on November 4, 2015, the Feast of St. Charles Borromeo, he was installed as Seventh Bishop of the Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph.
As bishop, he led the Service of Lament on June 26, 2016 to pray for and offer its sincere apology to victims of sexual abuse, making 5 commitments to advance healing for victims of abuse. He also opened seven Holy Doors across the Diocese during the 2015-2016 Jubilee Year of Mercy, spoke at the inaugural conference of the Catholic Bar Association in October 2015, and was present at the January 2017 installation of the 10th Abbot of Conception Abbey, Abbot Benedict Neenan. In 2018, he initiated the visioning process, ‘One Heart and Mind—A Vision For Our Future’, to listen and discern an action plan for the diocese’s immediate future.
Bishop Johnston is a fourth degree Knight of Columbus, a member of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, and a member of the Knights of St. Peter Claver. In 2005, 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. He is the Vice-Chair of the Board of Regents for Conception Seminary College and has served as a member of the Board of Trustees for Kenrick-Glennon Seminary. In November 2018, he was appointed to the USCCB Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People and served as chair from 2020-2023. He has served on the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, the Committee for National Collections, Board of Directors for Catholic Relief Services and as the Bishops’ liaison to the National Council of Catholic Women.