The Most Reverend Richard J. Sklba
Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Milwaukee
Bishop Richard J. Sklba was born in Racine, Wisconsin, on September 11, 1935, and was baptized at Holy Trinity Parish on September 30, 1935, the feast of Saint Jerome who is the patron saint of Scripture students.
After attending a public elementary school on the outskirts of the city of his birth, he spent two years at Saint Catherine’s High School, Racine, before transferring to Saint Francis Minor Seminary, Milwaukee, to finish high school and begin college studies.
From 1954 to 1960, he studied at the Gregorian University, Rome, completing an undergraduate degree in philosophy and a graduate degree in theology. He was ordained to the priesthood in Rome for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee in 1959. He was assigned to Saint Mary’s Parish, Elm Grove, in 1960 and served the parish as an assistant pastor for two years.
In 1962, he returned to Rome for three more years of study. While there, he attended the Pontifical Biblical Institute, Rome, and completed the equivalent of an advanced master’s degree in sacred Scripture. He completed the equivalent of a doctoral degree in biblical studies at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas of Aquinas (Angelicum), Rome. He was privileged enough to be present in Saint Peter’s Basilica, Rome, for the opening session of the Second Vatican Council on October 11, 1962.
After returning to the United States, he spent the next 11 years teaching Scripture at Saint Francis de Sales Seminary, Milwaukee, and served at Saint Veronica’s Parish, Milwaukee on weekends. In 1976, he was appointed rector of the seminary by Archbishop Cousins.
When ordained as an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee by Archbishop Weakland on December 19, 1979, Bishop Sklba became one of America’s youngest bishops.
For the past 30 years, Bishop Sklba has served on various committees of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops including Priestly Life and Ministry, Doctrine, Liturgy, Permanent Diaconate, as well as Marriage and Family. He was appointed to several task forces including the Teaching Function of the Diocesan Bishop and the sub-committee for Inclusive Language. He chaired the sub-committee on the Review of Scripture Translations from 1991 to 2001.
Bishop Sklba served as chair of the USCCB’s Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs from 2005-2008. In that capacity, he had the privilege of introducing the nation’s religious leaders from several traditions including Jewish, Islamic, Buddhist, Hindu and Jain to Pope Benedict XVI during the Holy Father’s historic pastoral visit to the United States in April of 2008.
He has been a member of the Catholic Biblical Association of America since 1968 and served as its president in 1982. Over the years, he also participated in several archaeological expeditions to sites in Israel.
Active in the church’s ecumenical and interreligious relationships on a national and local level, Bishop Sklba has co-chaired the national Lutheran/Catholic Dialogue since 1998. In February of 2006, Bishop Sklba was invited to attend the ninth General Assembly of the World Council of Churches in Porto Alegre, Brazil, as a member of the official Vatican delegation headed by Cardinal Walter Kasper. He has been an invited ecumenical guest at many national meetings of the country’s mainline Protestant Churches. He has also participated in countless meetings and projects with Jewish scholars of the country in an effort to promote interreligious understanding and cooperation.
His many professional memberships include the Catholic Theological Society of America and the Society for Biblical Literature. Bishop Sklba has also published articles, books, papers and occasional book reviews. In 1988, he was awarded the Catholic Theological Society of America’s John Courtney Murray Award for achievement in Theology.
Bishop Sklba was elected archdiocesan administrator by the College of Consultors in May of 2002, and served in that capacity until the Most Reverend Timothy Dolan was installed as Archbishop of Milwaukee on August 28, 2002. Bishop Sklba continued to serve as the Archdiocese of Milwaukee as an auxiliary bishop and general vicar under Archbishops Dolan and Listecki. He also taught Scripture at Sacred Heart School of Theology, Hales Corners, from 2006 through 2009.
On September 11, 2010, the occasion of his 75th birthday, Bishop Sklba, as required by canon law, submitted his resignation. On October 18, 2010, the Feast of St. Luke the Evangelist, Pope Benedict XVI accepted Bishop Sklba's resignation.
Bishop Sklba will continue to serve the archdiocese as a "retired" bishop assisting in providing weekend help at parishes and presiding at confirmations.