The Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend is mourning the recent death of its bishop emeritus, Bishop John M. D'Arcy, who led the diocese from 1985 until 2009.

"I am filled with deep sadness at the death of a dear friend and brother bishop. We mourn the death of a good shepherd after the heart of Christ, a bishop who loved the Lord and his people with all his heart," said current bishop Kevin C. Rhoades Sunday.

"We are comforted at this time by our faith in the Resurrection. As we share the pain of loss, Our Lord's promise of eternal life gives us joy and hope."

Bishop D'Arcy died at his home surrounded by loved ones in the late morning hours. Feb. 3 was the 56th anniversary of the first Mass he ever said. He had been ordained the previous day, Feb. 2, 1957, for the Archdiocese of Boston.

"Bishop D'Arcy faced death as he also lived his life," reflected Bishop Rhoades, "with deep faith and trust in God. He offered his prayers and sufferings this past month for the people he loved and served with joy and faithfulness these past 28 years in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend."

"I invite all to join me in prayer for our deceased shepherd that God may bring Bishop D'Arcy to everlasting peace and rest," Bishop Rhoades continued.

Bishop D'Arcy served as a priest of the Boston archdiocese from 1957 until 1975, when he was consecrated a bishop. He was an auxiliary bishop in Boston until he became the ordinary of Fort Wayne-South Bend in 1985.

He was allowed to remain Fort Wayne-South Bend's bishop until after his 77th birthday, serving fully two years past the mandatory retirement age for diocesan bishops.

Bishop D'Arcy called to task the University of Notre Dame, which is located in the Fort Wayne-South Bend diocese, for the school's honoring of President Obama.

On May 17, 2009, Obama received an honorary law degree at the university's commencement. Bishop D'Arcy's concern was that he president had reaffirmed, and made public policy, "his long-stated unwillingness to hold human life as sacred."

"In its decision to give its highest honor to a president who has repeatedly opposed even the smallest legal protection of the child in the womb, did Notre Dame surrender the responsibility that Pope Benedict believes Catholic universities have to give public witness to the truths revealed by God and taught by the church," Bishop D'Arcy asked in the months following the incident.

On the day of the commencement, Bishop D'Arcy spoke at a pro-life rally on the Notre Dame campus in lieu of attending the scandalous ceremony.

Bishop Rhoades, in his statement on his predecessor's death, extended condolences to Bishop D'Arcy's sisters: Joan Sheridan and Sister Anne D'Arcy, a Sister of Saint Joseph.