Retired Bishop D'Arcy dies
The Diocese of Fort Wayne – South Bend is saddened to announce the death of Bishop Emeritus John Michael D’Arcy.
Bishop D’Arcy died in the late morning hours of February 3rd, 2013 after succumbing to Cancer. Bishop D’Arcy was at home at the time of his death, surrounded by loved ones.
He passed on the 56th anniversary of his first Mass as an ordained priest.
Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades along with the diocese, asks for and offers prayers for Bishop D’Arcy, his family, loved ones and friends as together we grieve the loss of our beloved Bishop D’Arcy.
D'Arcy served the diocese as its eighth bishop from 1985 to 2010, coming to the position from the Boston Archdiocese, in which he had grown up and where he served as an auxiliary bishop.
The diocese Sunday wrote in a statement that D'Arcy died "surrounded by loved ones" on the 56th anniversary of his first Mass as an ordained priest.
"Bishop D'Arcy faced death as he also lived his life, with deep faith and trust in God," said his successor, the Rev. Kevin C. Rhoades, in a statement. "I am filled with deep sadness at the death of a dear friend and brother bishop. We mourn the death of a good shepherd after the heart of Christ who loved the Lord and his people with all his heart."
Funeral arrangements are pending.
D'Arcy was named the eighth bishop of the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese in 1985 and offered his retirement in 2007, the year he would turn 75. Canon law requires bishops submit their retirement at 75, although the pope can tell a bishop to stay.
He retired in January 2010. Rhoades of the Diocese of Harrisburg, Pa., is installed as the ninth bishop in the diocese's history.
In Boston D'Arcy served as an auxiliary bishop and was in charge of the diocesan spiritual development office, which included recommending priests for placement as pastors. While in Boston, D'Arcy raised red flags over sexual abuse by priests, a scandal that would become public decades later.
Some have said it was the letters D'Arcy wrote to his boss, Cardinal Bernard Law, that led to his transfer to Indiana. D'Arcy always declined to comment on the exact reason for his transfer, but acknowledged that Law wanted to move him.
The letters D'Arcy wrote to Law and other superiors warned of the conduct, such as violence, alcoholism, drug use and sexual abuse, of at least four priests, including John Geoghan. Geoghan was eventually convicted of groping a young boy and slain while in prison. D'Arcy's letters began in July 1978 and continued until his transfer. The letters were uncovered as part of an investigation by the Boston Globe in 2002.
In 2004, D'Arcy was cited by the National Review Board for the Protection of Children and Young People as "a voice in the wilderness" for his role in bringing sexual abuse to light in Boston
As the leader of the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese, D'Arcy stressed the importance of selecting men who are spiritually mature for the priesthood – men, he said, who would make good husbands.
"The best thing a bishop does for a parish is send them a good priest," he said in 2005, the year he celebrated 20 years with the diocese. "When you've done that, you've helped hundreds or thousands of people."
He also focused strongly on education and worked to raise teacher salaries in Catholic schools and provide financing for schools that served low-income areas of the diocese.
He wanted the schools to be not only academically strong but spiritually strong. He was concerned students were not receiving as strong of a Catholic education as they had in earlier generations, though they certainly had the desire to learn, he said.
"(These students) are more open to Christ than in the past," D'Arcy said in 2005. "I find a great hunger in young people."
D'Arcy also stressed strengthening the faith of his flock. He created a spiritual development office in Fort Wayne to focus on missions, retreats, educational opportunities and other activities to bring people back to Mass.
In his more than two decades as bishop, D'Arcy also oversaw the beginning of a live television Mass for shut-ins and Vincent House, which provides housing for families in need, and established an endowment for the diocese.
His time leading the diocese wasn't without controversy. Not everyone was happy about spending $3.6 million to renovate the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception or his decision to close parishes and schools, including St. Paul's in downtown Fort Wayne, a predominantly Hispanic parish, and Huntington Catholic High School.
His affinity for his hometown never waned nor did his Boston Irish accent. D'Arcy was an avid Boston Red Sox fan, something he called a "lifetime addiction."
It was an addiction that wasn't always easy, he told Journal Gazette columnist Frank Gray in 2004 just before the Red Sox won the World Series for the first time in 86 years.
The 1986 World Series was one of those challenging times. The Red Sox were within one out of winning the World Series when a wild pitch let the tying run score and then came the infamous grounder that went between Bill Buckner's legs, letting the winning run score in Game 6. The New York Mets went on to win the final game and take the Series.
D'Arcy went to work the day after that loss and announced he wasn't doing very well that day. Everyone laughed, he said.
Still, he believed in his team. In 2003, he said he didn't think too much of the Curse of the Bambino.
"I'll tell you, there are some moments when I believe in it," D'Arcy said. "But I don't think so. I think we're going to win it in my lifetime – the whole thing."
Just a year later, he got his wish.
The Fort Wayne area lost a respected and beloved leader with the death Sunday morning of the Rev. John Michael D'Arcy, area religious leaders said.
The retired bishop of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, D'Arcy, a man known for his love of his Roman Catholic faith and his flock, reached out to all Christians, said the Rev. Vernon Graham of Fort Wayne, retired executive pastor of Associated Churches of Fort Wayne and Allen County.
"I really think John D'Arcy was for many years the bishop of the whole city," said Graham, a Lutheran pastor.
"He brought people together from all religious backgrounds. He set a spirit and mood for our community, a spirit of goodness, of reaching out and working on behalf of the poor."
One of D'Arcy's most widely remembered acts came after a fire destroyed the historic St. Mary's Catholic Church in downtown Fort Wayne in 1993, Graham said.
The bishop vowed to rebuild the church with a state-of-the-art soup kitchen to continue to serve the hungry and homeless. The ministry continues to this day.
"He was comfortable with all people. … If it was the poorest of the poor to the richest of the rich, he could share a moment with them with grace and dignity," Graham said.
"In the end, I'm proud to call him friend and that we were disciples together for the Gospel."
Vince LaBarbera, retired diocesan spokesman, said D'Arcy could light up a room.
"He could walk into a room, any room, and he seemed to know everyone there, and they knew him and wanted to stop and say hello to him," he said.
With a formidable and well-educated intellect, D'Arcy was strong-willed but "fair-minded," LaBarbera said of his former boss. "You couldn't pull the wool over his eyes."
While sad at D'Arcy's passing, LaBarbera said he was glad the prelate got to come back to Fort Wayne for his last days. "He had quite an attachment to this diocese. He always thought that a bishop should stay with his diocese," he said.
In recent weeks, D'Arcy had said he was looking forward to seeing his parents again in heaven, LaBarbera said, and he was grateful for the thousands of prayers from parishioners.
"In the last few weeks, he taught us how to die," he said. "It was a great thing."
Bishop D'Arcy once said, 'a bishop must teach the Catholic faith in season and out of season, and he teaches not only by his words, but by his actions.' His life exemplified those words and, with his passing, our community has lost a tremendous leader.