Bishop D’Arcy loses battle with cancer

Bishop John D'Arcy
Bishop John D'Arcy

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE/AP) – The Diocese of Fort Wayne–South Bend announced Sunday that Bishop John D’Arcy lost his battle with cancer.

The Diocese of Fort Wayne–South Bend released the following statement Sunday afternoon:

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. 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. Funeral arrangements are pending at this time.

Bishop John D’Arcy returned to the Diocese of Fort Wayne–South Bend Friday, January 25 after receiving treatment for cancer in Massachusetts.

The former head of the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese was hospitalized in early January after doctors found a very rare form of cancer in the lung and brain. D’Arcy was diagnosed with prostate cancer in February of 2011 and underwent treatment.

“His leaving us really leaves a hole in our community, and it’s going to be a great loss for Fort Wayne…he was a gentle giant in this community,” Mayor Tom Henry said.

The Diocese of Fort Wayne–South Bend also released the following statement from Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, who succeeded D’Arcy, Sunday afternoon:

Today our beloved Bishop Emeritus John M. D’Arcy died in the peace of Christ. 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, a bishop who loved the Lord and his people with all his heart. We are comforted at this time by our faith in the Resurrection. As we share the pain of loss, Our Lord’s promise of eternal life gives us joy and hope.

Bishop D’Arcy faced death as he also lived his life: with deep faith and trust in God. He offered his prayers and sufferings this past month for the people he loved and served with joy and faithfulness these past 28 years in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend.

I thank the faithful of our diocese for the many prayers offered for Bishop D’Arcy in his final days. Your loving and prayerful support brought him much joy and comfort. I thank Maureen Schott, the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration, Dr. Joseph Muhler and the other doctors, nurses and hospice care workers who assisted Bishop D’Arcy with such great care in his final days.

On behalf of the priests, deacons, religious sisters and brothers, and lay faithful of our diocese, I extend heartfelt condolences to Bishop D’Arcy’s beloved sisters, Sister Anne D’Arcy, a Sister of Saint Joseph, and Mrs. Joan Sheridan and her family.

I invite all to join me in prayer for our deceased shepherd that God may bring Bishop D’Arcy to everlasting peace and rest. The Lord has called him home. May the Lord welcome him among the saints in glory!

D’Arcy served the Diocese for 28 years.

Bishop D’Arcy’s life and legacy

D’Arcy was born in Boston in 1932, ordained a priest in 1957 and served as a parish priest in the Boston area for nine years. In 1975, he was ordained an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Boston, and installed as bishop of the Fort Wayne-South Bend diocese on May 1, 1985.

Those who knew Bishop D’Arcy said he had a heart for the poor. They said he’s either started or strongly supported organizations such as St. Mary’s Soup Kitchen, Matthew 25, Catholic Charities, among others. Debra Schmidt remembers when she was appointed by Bishop D’Arcy to be executive director Catholic Charities.

“I had to just pray that I had the knowledge and the strength and the ability to be the executive director of a large social service agency,” Schmidt said. “He told me he had faith in me, and I thought, well, I guess I can do it.”

He had that same faith in Cathy Denice, director of community relations for the Catholic Charities.

“He appointed me to the board of directors of Catholic Charities,” she said. “That’s where my passion started for Catholic Charities.”

D’Arcy retired in 2010 as bishop of the Roman Catholic diocese that covers 14 counties in northern Indiana with more than 150,000 members.

He received national attention when he was one of the few church officials commended in a scathing 2003 report issued by the Massachusetts attorney general about the widespread sexual abuse of children by priests in the Boston Archdiocese. The report blamed then-Cardinal Bernard Law, his predecessors as archbishop and Law’s assistants for sheltering abusive priests and other church workers who molested as many as 1,000 children between 1940 and 2000.

But D’Arcy, a former auxiliary bishop in Boston, was noted for his strong support of screening potential priests, as well as his warnings to his superiors about predatory priests.

Later in 2003, he disclosed that 33 children — most of them teenagers

at the time — had been sexually abused over the previous five decades by 16 priests in northern Indiana diocese. D’Arcy said then there was too much secrecy surrounding the issue.

“I think people don’t want to know a lot about it, but they want to know the bishop is handling it right. I think that means a lot to them,” he said.

D’Arcy and Notre Dame

D’Arcy also made headlines for opposing some decisions by leaders at the University of Notre Dame, which is in the diocese. He wrote a nine-page “pastoral response” in 2006 criticizing the decision by the Rev. John Jenkins, Notre Dame’s president, to allow “The Vagina Monologues” to be performed on campus.

D’Arcy also boycotted Notre Dame’s commencement in 2009 because of the speaker, President Barack Obama, whose policies on stem cell research and abortion D’Arcy said ran counter to church teaching. But D’Arcy did attend an open-air Mass and rally on the campus that day, saying he wanted to support the students protesting Obama.

“All of you are heroes, and I’m proud to stand with you,” he said.

Jenkins issued a statement Sunday saying the university joins many others in mourning D’Arcy’s death.

“His life was one of loving service to God’s people as a pastor and, since he became the bishop of this diocese in 1985, he has shown dedicated and affectionate care for the University of Notre Dame. We remember him with gratitude and, though saddened by his passing, we believe he will be an advocate for us in the heavenly kingdom,” he said.

Allen County Commissioners Statement

Bishop D’Arcy was a man of tremendous faith with a true servant’s heart. He led the Catholic Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend for 24 years, touching many lives.

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.

In this difficult time, our thoughts and prayers are with his family and with the many individuals who knew him as a friend and mentor. Bishop D’Arcy will be truly missed.

United States Province of Priests and Brothers Statement

“Bishop D’Arcy was a friend to Holy Cross and to Our Lady, whom he held dear,” Rev. Thomas J. O’Hara, C.S.C., Provincial Superior of the Congregation of Holy Cross said. “While we mourn his death, we give thanks for the many ways he was a blessing of God to the Diocese of Fort Wayne South Bend.”

The U.S. Province, based in Notre Dame, Ind., has five parishes in the South Bend area under the jurisdiction of the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese: Sacred Heart, Christ the King, Holy Cross and St. Stanislaus, St. Adalbert/St. Casimir and St. Joseph. Holy Cross also founded the University of Notre Dame. “For 25 years, Bishop D’Arcy shepherded the people of the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese leading by example with steadfast faith. He was a great partner to Holy Cross, supporting vocations, our parishes and schools,” Fr. O’Hara said.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Bishop D’Arcy’s family and with all members of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. May he rest in the peace of Christ. “

Senator Joe Donnelly Statement

“It was with great sadness that I learned of the passing of Bishop John D’Arcy.  As members of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, my family and I have long looked to Bishop D’Arcy for spiritual guidance and leadership.  Bishop D’Arcy was a strong voice for not only the Catholic faith, but a voice for the hungry, the poor, and the disadvantaged.  He made all of us better persons.

Bishop D’Arcy was also my friend, and I greatly valued his kindness, friendship, and advice.  Like all of us in northern Indiana and throughout our state and country, we will miss Bishop John terribly.  I know he is home in God’s peace.”

blog comments powered by Disqus