Thursday, January 18, 2007

Bishop D'Arcy Ad Multos Annos

From Allston-Brighton TAB:

Not many people get to celebrate a jubilee in their lifetime, but Bishop John D’Arcy has earned that rare distinction. With the anniversary of his 50th year as a priest fast approaching, D’Arcy chose to celebrate the occasion by returning to his roots and giving a Mass in the beloved neighborhood where he was born and raised, and to which he still has close ties.

D’Arcy, who is currently the bishop of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Ind., is Brighton-born and bred. The son of Irish immigrants, as a child he lived on Upcrest Road and worked in his father’s grocery store. But rather than follow in his father’s footsteps and go into the food trade, D’Arcy chose to follow a higher calling and entered the priesthood.

“It was always something I thought about,” D’Arcy said, “Especially since I grew up in a family with strong Catholic ties, in a town with so much of a Catholic presence.”
Our Lady of the Presentation was his local parish, and the church figured strongly in the D’Arcy family’s life. “My parents were married there, and I celebrated my first Mass there,” he said. “It was our church. It was my spiritual roots.”

D’Arcy has had a rich and rewarding career in the service of God, starting in 1949 when he entered St. John’s Seminary in Brighton. After being ordained in 1957, he served at St. Mary’s in Beverly for nine years. He was then sent to Rome from 1965-68, where he earned a doctorate in spiritual theology.

His path then took him back to St. John’s, where he was on the faculty for several years. In 1975, he was ordained as auxiliary bishop for Boston, and in 1981, he was appointed regional bishop for Lowell. Since 1985, he has been bishop of Ft. Wayne-South Bend, a tough job, but one he loves. “It’s been a joy being in Indiana, but demanding,” he said.

Recently, D’Arcy got a letter from Monsignor William Fay of St. Columbkille’s, inviting him to say a Mass there. Fay has known D’Arcy since their days at St. John’s Seminary, when Fay was a student and D’Arcy a faculty member.

“I thought it would be a great idea for him give a Mass back in his old neighborhood,” said Fay. “I think the world of him. He’s a good priest and a great bishop.”

Last Sunday, more than 400 people attended the Mass, and several dozen came to a celebratory reception on his behalf. Many of the attendees were relatives, former classmates from St. John’s and old friends from the former Presentation parish who came say hello and wish him well.

D’Arcy mourned the loss of Our Lady of Presentation, which was closed in 2004. “I feel sad that OLP was closed,” he said. “I have had to close parishes in Indiana, and I know that it’s hard.” But he expressed excitement that the parish’s former members seem to have transplanted themselves to St. Columbkille’s and continue to carry on Brighton’s strong Catholic traditions.

Though D’Arcy has been a resident of the Midwest for the last 21 years, he will never call anywhere but Brighton home. He has family and friends here, and returns every Easter for a week and every summer for almost a month.

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