Bishop D'Arcy dies at age 80

FORT WAYNE, Ind. - Retired Bishop John M. D'Arcy, who served as the eighth bishop of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend from May 1, 1985, through Jan. 13, 2010, died at his home in Fort Wayne the morning of Feb. 3.

He was diagnosed with lung and brain cancer in late December while visiting his family in the Boston area. He returned to Fort Wayne in January for care.

In retirement, Bishop D'Arcy had assisted at parishes, conferred the sacrament of confirmation, and enjoyed providing retreats and missions and assisting as chaplain of Bishop Luers High School.

"I am filled with deep sadness at the death of a dear friend and brother bishop," said Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, who was installed in January 2010 to succeed Bishop D'Arcy. "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."

"Bishop D'Arcy faced death as he also lived his live: with deep faith and trust in God," the bishop said in a statement Feb. 3. "He offered his prayers and sufferings this past month for the people he loved and served with joy and faithfulness."

The diocese announced that Bishop D'Arcy's body was to be received at St. Matthew Cathedral in South Bend Feb. 6, with daylong visitation followed by a 5 p.m. rosary and a 7 p.m. transferal Mass to be celebrated. The bishop's body was to be received the next morning at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne, with all-day visitation followed by a rosary and evening prayer.

Morning visitation Feb. 8 was to be followed by noon Mass and a reception. The rite of committal was to be conducted privately in the cathedral crypt.

The son of Irish immigrants, John Michael D'Arcy was born Aug. 18, 1932, in Brighton, Mass. He began preparation for the priesthood in September 1949 at St. John's Seminary in Brighton. He was ordained to the priesthood on Feb. 2, 1957, for the Archdiocese of Boston.

He studied in Rome at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas, known as the Angelicum, from 1965 to 1968 and received his doctorate in spiritual theology in 1968. He served as spiritual director and professor of spiritual theology at St. John's Seminary from 1968 to 1985.

Bishop D'Arcy was ordained an auxiliary bishop of Boston Feb. 11, 1975, and was appointed vicar for spiritual development for the archdiocese at the same time. He continued to serve as a spiritual director at St John's Seminary. Bishop D'Arcy directed the Office of Spiritual Development, which was established by the late Boston Cardinal Humberto Medeiros in 1975.

On Feb. 26, 1985, Bishop D'Arcy was appointed eighth bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend and was installed May 1, 1985.

Bishop D'Arcy was chairman of the board of directors of Our Sunday Visitor during his years as head of the diocese.

Greg Erlandson, publisher of Our Sunday Visitor in Huntington, said: "Bishop D'Arcy was a good friend of Our Sunday Visitor, supportive of both its publishing and its offertory solutions divisions. He had a particular passion for catechesis and evangelization, and used funding from the Our Sunday Visitor Institute to educate scores of religion teachers and catechists in his own diocese.

"He was a shepherd dedicated to his flock, and when he received news of his cancer, he was resolute in returning home to the diocese," he added.

The Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese includes the University of Notre Dame, with which Bishop D'Arcy had a strong relationship. That relationship was strained in May 2009 when the university invited President Barack Obama to be the commencement speaker and to receive an honorary degree.

Bishop D'Arcy and others who said Obama's support of legal abortion and embryonic stem-cell research made him an inappropriate choice to be commencement speaker at a Catholic university.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 1970