Most Rev. John M. D’Arcy, 80, Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, died Sunday, February 3, 2013 after a recurring bout with cancer.
A 28-year servant of the diocese, 24 as Bishop, he led not only the diocesan parishes, but counseled leaders of the five diocesan colleges, including the University of Saint Francis. He worked with University of Saint Francis President Sister M. Elise Kriss, OSF, throughout her nearly 20-year presidency, and with other leaders of the university on matters of Catholic doctrine and education.
President Kriss spoke of the benefit of his counsel and contributions to her in her leadership role, and to the university as a whole.
“Bishop D’Arcy leaves a strong legacy of Catholic leadership, with a profound effect on the University of Saint Francis and the diocese,” she said. “He was most supportive of the university, and understood our ecumenical opportunities because of the nature of our student body. Even in his retirement, he served on our Mission Integration Committee. I met with him numerous times on behalf of the university. He was also engaged with all of the diocesan colleges in the implementation of ‘Ex corde Ecclesiae,’ Pope John Paul II’s vision of the role and purpose of a Catholic university. He was so supportive of me and the work of the University of Saint Francis here in Fort Wayne. His contributions will be sorely missed.”
Dr. Earl Kumfer, professor and chair of the Department of Philosophy and Theology, also worked with Bishop D’Arcy over the years, and reflected upon his impact upon his department and students.
“Bishop D’Arcy always expressed a personal and pastoral interest in the spiritual life of USF faculty and students,” Dr. Kumfer said. “His usual practice was to celebrate liturgy with us in opening the school year and celebrating graduation. His frequent interaction with me and my colleagues, individually and as a department, was always a dialogue. He seemed to miss academic life, and was keenly interested in our research projects. His quick story and Irish lilt put students at ease. In no time, the conversation turned to spiritual matters.”
University Chief Academic Officer, Dr. Andrew Prall, spoke of Bishop D’Arcy’s impact and the university’s loss. “The University of Saint Francis community mourns the passing of Bishop John D’Arcy,” Dr. Prall said. “Bishop D’Arcy was a tremendous friend to the university, who deepened the university’s Catholic and Franciscan identity through his stalwart guidance and support.”
John D’Arcy was born in Brighton, Mass., to Irish immigrants. Entering St. John’s Seminary in 1949, he was ordained to the priesthood in 1957. He earned his doctorate in spiritual theology at the Angelicum in Rome, serving the church in the Boston area and becoming Episcopal vicar for the Lowell region in 1981. He was named Bishop of the South Bend-Fort Wayne Diocese in 1985 and installed in May 1986.