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. DArcy, at DArcys Fort Wayne home.
DArcy 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 Gods grace, to be in his house, celebrating Mass. It was very emotional for me, Rhoades said Thursday, after finishing a service formally receiving DArcys body at Fort Waynes Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
DArcy died Sunday morning of cancer. He was 80.
Rhoades said the late bishops 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 DArcys 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 DArcy 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.
DArcy, who had overcome a prostate cancer diagnosis in 2011, was still keeping an active schedule.
Rhoades said DArcy 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 DArcy to accept his final diagnosis, but he accepted it, Rhoades said.
DArcy said he would offer his suffering for the people and the diocese he loved, Rhoades said.
A testament to the late bishops impact, Rhoades said, was the beautiful outpouring of love from the people of Fort Wayne and South Bend during DArcys illness and passing.
He called the late bishop a ready helper who taught the faith and preached the faith with real conviction.
Fittingly, DArcy 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 couldnt see well enough to read his missal, Rhoades said. Thats what led him to go to the hospital emergency room.
Mass was always the center of his life, Rhoades added.
Hell be remembered. He touched a lot of people. Weve been so blessed.