On Jan. 28, the Rev. Kevin C. Rhoades had one of the most special moments of his life.
He celebrated a Mass with his predecessor bishop of the Fort Wayne-South Bend Roman Catholic Diocese, the Rev. John M. D’Arcy, at D’Arcy’s Fort Wayne home.
D’Arcy was in a wheelchair, Rhoades said, but he was totally alert and even able to preach a little, recalling a favorite hymn to the Eucharist by St. Thomas Aquinas on whose feast day the Mass occurred.
That was just such a beautiful expression of God’s grace, to be in his house, celebrating Mass. It was very emotional for me, Rhoades said Thursday, after finishing a service formally receiving D’Arcy’s body at Fort Wayne’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
D’Arcy died Sunday morning of cancer. He was 80.
Rhoades said the late bishop’s health worsened more quickly than anyone could have imagined. On Feb. 1, Rhoades said, four days after the Mass, he said the Prayers for the Dying at D’Arcy’s bedside.
At that point, the man Rhoades called his dear friend and mentor was slipping in and out of consciousness.
Like many parishioners, Rhoades said he was just devastated to learn shortly after Christmas that D’Arcy had been diagnosed with cancer of the brain and lung while visiting family in Massachusetts.
I was not expecting it because he was so strong and looking so good, Rhoades said.
D’Arcy, who had overcome a prostate cancer diagnosis in 2011, was still keeping an active schedule.
Rhoades said D’Arcy had been serving as chaplain at Bishop Luers High School and teaching in parishes, and he planned to officiate at the upcoming annual Fort Wayne confirmation service for young people.
It was difficult for D’Arcy to accept his final diagnosis, but he accepted it, Rhoades said.
D’Arcy said he would offer his suffering for the people and the diocese he loved, Rhoades said.
A testament to the late bishop’s impact, Rhoades said, was the beautiful outpouring of love from the people of Fort Wayne and South Bend during D’Arcy’s illness and passing.
He called the late bishop a ready helper who taught the faith and preached the faith with real conviction.
Fittingly, D’Arcy realized something might be seriously amiss with his health while celebrating Mass, something he did every day, Rhoades said.
He had really blurred vision, and he couldn’t see well enough to read his missal, Rhoades said. That’s what led him to go to the hospital emergency room.
Mass was always the center of his life, Rhoades added.
He’ll be remembered. He touched a lot of people. We’ve been so blessed.