After 40 years of ministering in the diocese, it’s to be expected that Father Daryl Rybicki would find familiar faces everywhere. He has served at both high schools on the South Bend side of the diocese, many of the parishes, and even helped local television station ABC57 cover Pope Francis’ 2015 visit to the United States.
To a young Daryl, priests always seemed like “they had a neat job, way up there in the Church.” His interest was piqued when he encountered priests outside of the parish setting, acting as educators. Because of those interactions he decided to continue his education after high school, keep the priesthood in mind and explore what God was calling him to do. “I wanted to make sure it wasn’t just about me.”
Father Rybicki holds a degree in secondary education, one that helped him to grow in his call and his gifts.
“It would be shorter to say where I haven’t served,” he joked. He spent his diaconate year at St. Anthony de Padua Parish in South Bend, which ended with his ordination on June 16, 1979. His first parish assignment as a priest was St. Matthew Cathedral, only the beginning of his ongoing adventure. What came next resembled what had intrigued him in discernment: the vocation of a priest within the school setting.
After four years at St. Matthew, Father Rybicki was moved to Saint Joseph High School in South Bend as both chaplain and assistant principal. But this would not be the end of his unique experience in the high schools: six years at Saint Joseph High School were followed by six years at Marian High School, Mishawaka, where he served as principal. As if a foreshadowing of that transition, while at Saint Joseph, Father Rybicki had lived on Marian High School property with its chaplain, Msgr. William Schooler.
At Marian, he joked that he thought it was marvelous that he had the keys to every single door. But he also appreciated that he had been given a unique role: “to be not only the educational leader, but the spiritual leader of the school as well — by default, if nothing else, by being a priest. It was thoroughly enjoyable.”
Father Rybicki dedicated his free time to any parishes who needed an extra hand. He was happy to assist at St. Bavo Parish, St. Hedwig Parish, and Corpus Christi from time to time, and to celebrate Mass at Culver Academy. His gifts within the school setting also came to good use when Our Lady of Hungary Parish needed an administrator.
Until his time at Corpus Christi, Father Rybicki’s longest tenure with a parish was nine years, at St. Hedwig. During which period he also helped at the now-closed St. Mary of the Assumption Parish, and to St. Augustine. He held on to St. Augustine Parish upon leaving St. Hedwig for St. Adalbert Parish, where he stayed until 2002.
The move from St. Adalbert to St. John the Baptist in Fort Wayne stands apart as the largest distance Father Rybicki has moved since his pre-ordination days. He spent seven years at the parish before coming back to South Bend as pastor of Corpus Christi.
Father Rybicki said he is grateful for the opportunities that have been afforded him as a priest and affirmed that nothing else exists that he would have wanted to do for 40 years.
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