February 14, 2013 // Uncategorized

‘A man of God, a holy bishop’

(Remarks of Bishop Rhoades at Funeral Mass of Bishop John M. D’Arcy)

I’m going to follow my beloved predecessor’s example. At this point after Communion, Bishop D’Arcy would often get up to speak and say “you’re now getting two homilies for the price of one!”

This really isn’t a second homily. Monsignor Heintz already preached a beautiful homily. Thank you, Monsignor Mike!

On behalf of the clergy, religious, and lay faithful of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, I extend sincere sympathy, our love and prayers, to Bishop D’Arcy’s sisters, Sister Anne and Joan, Joan’s husband Hugh and their children Darcy, John, and Patrick, and Bishop D’Arcy’s niece Jacinta. Sister Anne and Joan, 28 years ago your brother left home to follow the Lord’s call to serve as a shepherd here in Indiana. We are so very thankful for this gift from the Lord and for the loving sacrifice this required of your family and of Bishop D’Arcy’s many friends in Boston. We pray that your brother John is now reunited with your beloved parents and sister Mary in the communion of saints in heaven.

I wish to extend deep gratitude to the communities of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend for the tremendous outpouring of love, support, and prayers during these days. I thank the bishops who are here today: your presence brings us much consolation. I thank all the priests who are concelebrating this Mass, many ordained by Bishop D’Arcy, the many religious sisters and brothers, our deacons and seminarians, and all our wonderful lay people here to pray for our beloved Bishop Emeritus.

I wish to extend particular gratitude to Maureen Schott, Bishop D’Arcy’s administrative assistant, who took such beautiful care of Bishop D’Arcy these final weeks of his life and served him and our diocese with such great devotion for many years. And to Deacon Jim Fitzpatrick, who faithfully served for many years as Bishop D’Arcy’s liturgical master of ceremonies.

I wish to share with you now a message I received this week from the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone:

The Holy Father was saddened to learn of the death of the Most Reverend John M. D’Arcy, Bishop Emeritus of Fort Wayne-South Bend, and he sends prayerful condolences to all the clergy, religious and lay faithful of the Diocese. He joins those gathered for the solemn funeral rite in commending Bishop D’Arcy’s soul to our Heavenly Father’s merciful love. Mindful of the deceased’s long and devoted ministry as priest and bishop, His Holiness prays that the bishop’s memory will inspire the community he served to respond ever more generously to the call to proclaim the Gospel through lives of faithful discipleship. As a pledge of spiritual strength and comfort, the Holy Father imparts his Apostolic Blessing to all who mourn in the hope of resurrection to new life in Jesus Christ our Lord. 

We will all miss Bishop D’Arcy. He touched all of us in manifold ways. Personally, I will deeply miss Bishop D’Arcy’s friendship, his wise counsel, and his generous help in ministering throughout our diocese during his retirement. When I first came to Fort Wayne three years ago, Bishop D’Arcy shared many things with me. At one point, he shared with me his avid support for the Boston Red Sox. I will never forget the look on his face when I told him rather sheepishly that I was a New York Yankees fan. I thought: there goes our relationship! But after the initial shock that his successor was a Yankees fan, he welcomed me with the warmest kindness.

In his homily, Monsignor Heintz mentioned Bishop D’Arcy’s fondness for writing memos. I received many the past three years! Bishop D’Arcy kindly shared with me his insights on various diocesan matters, on parishes, schools, etc. He was eager to help me to get to know the diocese. A week before he died, Bishop D’Arcy sent me a three-page memo on Bishop Luers High School since he knew I was visiting there the next day. I couldn’t believe it, a week before he died Bishop D’Arcy was still writing memos! But it showed that his loving concern for the flock that had been entrusted to his pastoral care continued until the end.

When a priest is ordained a bishop, he receives three symbols of his episcopal office after his head is anointed with the holy chrism: a ring, a miter, and a crosier.

Msgr. Heintz spoke about the bishop’s ring. The ordaining bishop places the ring on the newly ordained bishop’s ring finger of the right hand and says: “Receive this ring, the seal of fidelity: adorned with undefiled faith, preserve unblemished the bride of God, the holy Church.” Bishop D’Arcy’s fidelity to his spouse, the Church, was unfailing. He loved the people of this diocese with all his heart and poured out his life in self-giving service of his spouse, in imitation of Jesus, the Bridegroom who gave his life for His Bride, the Church. During these past several weeks, Bishop D’Arcy told me often he was offering his prayers and sufferings for the people of our diocese.

At an episcopal ordination, the ordaining bishop gives the crosier to the newly ordained bishop and says: “Receive the crosier, the sign of your pastoral office: and keep watch over the whole flock in which the Holy Spirit has placed you as Bishop to govern the Church of God.” With courage and love, Bishop D’Arcy kept watch as a good shepherd over this flock in the diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. He sought the glory of God and the salvation of souls. He was unafraid to teach the saving truth of the Gospel. He made decisions prayerfully, not seeking personal popularity, but seeking to do the will of God.

The ordaining bishop also places the miter on the head of the new ordained bishop, saying: “Receive the miter, and may the splendor of holiness shine forth in you, so that when the chief shepherd appears you may deserve to receive from him an unfading crown of glory.” Bishop D’Arcy was truly “a man of God,” a holy bishop. May he now receive from the Lord, not another miter, but an unfading crown of glory among the saints in heaven!

I wish to conclude with words that Bishop D’Arcy would often say at the end of a funeral homily: “Safe home, John, safe home.”

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