Bishop Emeritus John M. D'Arcy passes away on 56th anniversary as priest

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Bishop D'Arcy, the former leader of the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese has died after a battle with cancer.

His passing came on the 56th anniversary of his first mass as an ordained priest.

Bishop Emeritus John Michael D'Arcy led the local diocese for 24 years. He died late Sunday morning at his home surrounded by his loved ones at 80 years-old.

When he was 17 years-old, D’Arcy began preparing for the priesthood at St. John’s Seminary in Brighton Massachusetts. The same place he would go on to receive his doctorate in spiritual theology after being ordained to the priesthood.

For nearly two decades of his life, between the 1968 and 1985 D’Arcy served as a professor of spiritual theology while serving as a spiritual director.

In 1985 he was installed as the eighth bishop of the Fort Wayne-South Bend diocese, taking on issues at Catholic schools and championing human values and human love.

He took a vehement stance against school-based clinics in South Bend dispensing contraceptives and offering abortion counseling to students.

“I think that lacks integrity, it lacks challenge for the young people,” said D’Arcy at a 1987 conference.

In his later years, D’Arcy refocused his passion of spiritual direction to Catholic kids in the area. He said mass at Catholic Schools Week, and taught young Catholic school students the importance of prayer.

When he was re-diagnosed with cancer in December 2012, D’Arcy issued a statement calling for the prayers of the community he served for nearly 25 years.

"I am filled with deep sadness at the death of a dear friend and brother bishop," current Fort Wayne-South Bend Bishop Kevin Rhoades said in a statement. "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."

The Bishop was diagnosed with cancer in the brain and lung during an annual physical exam, while visiting Boston at Christmastime.
"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," Bishop Rhoades said.

The University of Notre Dame joins in mourning the late Bishop, in a statement released Sunday afternoon, university president Rev. John Jenkins said “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.”

Saint Mary’s President Carol Ann Mooney also released a statement, she said “Bishop D’Arcy was himself an academic, and as such really understood the complexities of Catholic higher education. His visits to our campus were marked by his great personal warmth and love for our students. His homilies at commencement were legendary, and after mass he would stand and take pictures with students and their families for as long as needed.” She went on to say that D’Arcy will be greatly missed by all who knew him.

D’Arcy was 80 years old.

On Wednesday, his body will be received at St. Matthew Cathedral in South Bend for morning prayer, with visitation beginning at 10 a.m. and continuing throughout the day.

The Rosary will begin at 5 p.m. and Bishop Rhoades will say mass at 7 o'clock.

On Friday the visitation will continue from 9 to 11:30 a.m. in Fort Wayne at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

Then Bishop D'Arcy's Funeral Mass will be celebrated at noon.