Amid the tears Friday was love and laughter as parishioners remembered and celebrated the life of Bishop Emeritus John M. D'Arcy at his funeral Mass.
The former Catholic Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend Catholic bishop, 80, had been stricken with cancer just after Christmas. D'Arcy died late Sunday morning at his home. He died on the 56th anniversary of celebrating his first Mass as an ordained priest.
The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception was full as 11 bishops and countless clergy filled the area behind the altar and the front rows of the church. Ten minutes ticked off the clock as the rows of church brethren made their way down the aisle to their seats.
Monsignor Michael Heintz, rector, St. Matthew Cathedral, South Bend, gave the homily. Many of his memories of D'Arcy were humorous.
“He started every meeting with the same three words, “Sorry I'm late,” Heintz said.
Alluding to the eclectic nature of the contents of D'Arcy's car trunk, which included everything from a Confirmation manual to tennis shoes and a hockey stick, Heintz said, “His trunk was the perfect blend of EWTN, (Eternal Word Television Network) and ESPN.”
D'Arcy's successor, Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, continued along the humorous vein, recalling the shock Red Sox fan D'Arcy experienced when he discovered Rhoades was a Yankees fan. Rhoades said once D'Arcy got over it he welcomed Rhoades in his new position. Rhoades noted D'Arcy was a prolific memo writer. Rhoades was stunned when a week before D'Arcy's death he received a three-page memo on Bishop Luers High School, which Rhoades was visiting the next day. But he noted it was because D'Arcy really cared about the people he served in the diocese he led for 25 years until his retirement in January 2010.
“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.” Rhoades said.
Rhoades concluded with the words he had frequently heard the late bishop use to end a funeral homily, “ Safe home, John; safe home.”
Standing outside the Cathedral after church, parishioner
Paul Schoenle, of South Bend, remembered him as a man of tremendous courage.
“He started the Bishop's Appeal (an annual call for donations) out of the blue to help the diocese, and without any understanding that it would be successful. It was phenomenally successful, and it took a lot of courage on his part to do something like that,” Schoenle said.
Judy Mahoney recalled seeing the bishop outside St Patrick Catholic Church while sitting in his car with his head bowed before the service. She said she told her grandson Patrick not to bother him since it looked like he was deep in prayer.
“After that he got out of the car and said, 'Well it's the third quarter and they're still winning,'” Mahoney said.
He was listening to a Notre Dame game.