February 7, 2023 // Diocese
Mass Celebrated in Remembrance of Bishop John D’Arcy on Tenth Anniversary of His Death
In gratitude for the courageous and dedicated leadership of Bishop John M. D’Arcy, especially for his guidance of the diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, a memorial Mass was offered on the 10-year anniversary of his death at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne.
The Mass on Feb. 3, the feast of St. Blaise, Bishop and Martyr, recounted the life and witness of Bishop D’Arcy, faithful son of the Church who spent his life in service of the Gospel with love and perseverance.
Father Mark Gurtner, Vicar General for the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend and Pastor at Our Lady of Good Hope in Fort Wayne, was the main celebrant and homilist. Concelebrating were Father Jacob Runyon, Father Thomas Shoemaker, and Monsignor Owen Campion, with assistance from Deacon Fred Everett.
In his homily, Father Gurtner remarked that Bishop D’Arcy was passionate about helping people discover their vocations and to flourish in them. He also sought to ensure the culture of the priesthood remained healthy, even when that required making tough decisions. He shared the story that “Bishop D’Arcy one time met with Cardinal Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict XVI, and spoke with him about vocations in our diocese, telling him that it was his strategy as bishop to ordain the highest quality of men, even if that meant ordaining fewer men. His idea was that good priests would inspire other good young men to want to be priests too. He went on to say that he may never live to see the fruit of this strategy. Cardinal Ratzinger responded, ‘Yes, this is salvation history, one sows and another reaps,’ echoing the words of Jesus in the fourth chapter of Saint John’s Gospel. This is a great lesson for all of us in our Christian life, especially in our individual vocations, as we seek to live them faithfully and zealously, we plant seeds of faith and we may never see the harvest.”
He expressed his sincere gratitude for Bishop D’Arcy’s commitment and fidelity to his mission, saying, “We in the diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend continue to be the beneficiary of many good seeds which Bishop D’Arcy planted, reaping a harvest of God’s grace and the continual flourishing of the Catholic faith, not only regarding vocations, but in many other ways, as well. What a blessing it was for us to have had such a good bishop for so many years!”
Father Gurtner continued, “We should imitate Bishop D’Arcy, as the Letter to the Hebrews says in today’s reading, ‘Remember your leaders who spoke the Word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.’ I never knew Bishop D’Arcy ever to be discouraged, even during some very difficult times. He always sought to do what was right and good and what he believed God was asking of him. If we are faithful and zealous in our Christian life and vocations, God will bring a bountiful harvest forth from us also.”
Finally, Father Gurtner reminded everyone of the need to pray for Bishop D’Arcy. “This Mass is a gift we can offer back to him. If he is in purgatory, our prayers and offering of this Mass will assist him to be free of any stain of sin, to be then led to the glory of Heaven. If he is already in Heaven, our prayers for him will no doubt be applied to others whom God in His wisdom and goodness desires to receive these benefits in Bishop D’Arcy’s name, which will be all the more cause for joy for our beloved Bishop. We give thanks to God for Bishop D’Arcy, for the fruit he brought to our diocese, and ask that he be given eternal rest.”
Following Mass, the hundreds of people in attendance were invited to proceed to the Cathedral’s Crypt Chapel to pray before the body of Bishop D’Arcy. Prayer cards, identical to those which were distributed at his funeral in 2013, were available as well. Additional cards may be obtained from the Cathedral parish office.
Speaking in 2013 following Bishop D’Arcy’s passing, current Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Kevin C. Rhoades, remarked, “My dear friend and predecessor was truly a man of God who offered to me and to all of us a model of holiness. His life of prayer and witness to the Gospel was an inspiration to us all. He always kept before his eyes the example of the Good Shepherd ‘who came not to be served, but to serve and to give his life for the sheep.’ Bishop D’Arcy shepherded the faithful of our wonderful diocese for nearly 25 years with generosity and zeal. Personally, I am so grateful for his wisdom, counsel, and example. He carried out with joy the mission the Lord entrusted to him; he was a faithful teacher who fed us with God’s word, a devoted priest who nourished us with the grace of the sacraments, and a good shepherd who led and built up our diocese in truth and holiness.”
A longtime friend of Bishop D’Arcy, who passed away on Jan. 9, 2023, before this Mass took place, was Deacon James. A Fitzpatrick. For more than 30 years, Fitzpatrick served as Master of Ceremonies for both Bishop D’Arcy and Bishop Rhoades, at numerous confirmations, baccalaureate Masses, ordinations, and other liturgies. In 2013, at the time of Bishop D’Arcy’s passing, Deacon Fitzpatrick stated, “Before a priest is ordained a bishop, he is questioned about his resolve to uphold the faith: ‘Do you resolve to guide the Holy People of God in the way of salvation as a devoted father and sustain them with the help of your fellow ministers, the priests and deacons?’ For more than 23 years, I was privileged to serve Bishop D’Arcy as his Master of Ceremonies and I was able to observe firsthand his fulfillment of his ‘I do’ in answer to that question. We saw in this holy man, first and foremost, a priest, a man who gave up spouse and children in order to serve the people of God entrusted to him. His priestly ministry was the bedrock of his ministry as bishop. He took great pleasure in ordaining young men as priests to be his coworkers in the vineyard of Christ. He loved to administer the Sacrament of Confirmation on the young. Most of all, he wanted to exercise the teaching Office of Bishop by brining alive the Word of God in the hearts of his flock. He often spoke that when his time came to meet the Lord, that he knew he would be judged in part on how well he ministered and cared for the souls of the people in this diocese. The last time I saw him, a few days before his death, he gave me his blessing and asked that I pray for his soul, that he might be found worthy to gain entrance into heaven. Now the Lord has called him home and we pray that he will be found worthy of the heaven he taught all of us to strive for.”
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