August 10, 2011| The Long Island Catholic Vol. 50, No. 16 | BISHOP WILLIAM MURPHY
While I am not sure of the exact year in the early 1980s I am very clear about the first time I met Bishop James Daly, whose 90th birthday we celebrate with great joy and even more affection. The Rector of the North American College called to ask if I could offer hospitality to Bishop John McGann and his two auxiliaries, Bishops Ryan and Daly at Villa Stritch, where I was then rector. Happy to welcome Bishop McGann I immediately said yes and the next day the three Rockville Centre bishops arrived to spend the better part of a week. Bishop Daly, I trust, will forgive me if I say that my first impression of these two wonderful auxiliaries was that the taller would outlive the smaller. And how grateful to God I am that we, who miss both Bishops McGann and Ryan, still have the active presence of the third member of that extraordinary team, our own Bishop Jim!
When I came to the diocese ten years ago, I knew very few of you but I recognized immediately that integral to understanding and appreciating this diocese would be Bishop Daly. He was “present at the creation” of our diocese. From his first assignment as a young priest to Our Lady of the Snow in Blue Point where he lives today in his family home, he has been at the heart of the life of this local Church, bringing all his many priestly gifts to the service of the People of God. From Blue Point to St. William the Abbot in Seaford, from there to the faculty of our seminary he brought pastoral wisdom to the people and to that special group of men called to be formed as priests to the service of those people.
One good service leads to another. I am certain that the experience of the Second Vatican Council was the inspiration that led Bishop Kellenberg to establish the Office of Priest Personnel in 1968. But it was the experience of and sensitivity to brother priests that made our Bishop Daly the ideal candidate to serve in that capacity from 1968 to 1972. There are few bishops I have known who could match Bishop Jim in his affection for and dedication to priests. His care of them and his counsel to them have benefited our diocese in more ways than any of us will ever know.
The heart of every priest is to be a pastor to people. Bishop Daly, to this day, speaks of his years as pastor at St. Boniface in Elmont as the happiest years of priestly commitment. I sometimes think he would go back there today if possible. And I am certain it was a sacrifice for him to give up the parish in 1977 when the Holy Father named him auxiliary bishop to his faithful and steadfast friend, Bishop John McGann.
But what a dynamic combination they made together! As vicar of Nassau and vicar of Suffolk, as senior auxiliary and vicar general, Bishop Daly was constantly at the side of our beloved diocesan bishop. The implementation of the Second Vatican Council, the development of parish social outreach, two convocations of priests, the flourishing of lay ministries, the deepening of the identity of a new diocese that truly reflected the hopes and aspirations, the prayers and the faith of a holy people of God.
Once many years ago, the then-publisher of Newsday was at my apartment for lunch. He said to me that he saw the growth of Long Island mirrored in the growth of our diocese. In a deep sense he was right. The Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre and the many communities that today make up Long Island were built up together. The leadership, spirit, vision and example of our bishops during those years set the stage and shaped what our Church is and developed our parishes as strong bulwarks of faith and life, of prayer and service not just for Catholics but for all the communities that make up our two counties.
To Bishop Jim Daly on his 90th birthday, this fourth Bishop of Rockville Centre expresses today his congratulations and his esteem, his prayers and his affections. All the diocese of lay faithful, consecrated women and men, deacons, priests and religious, I know, join me in a chorus of thanks to God for this holy and humble, loving and prayerful, totally dedicated man of God. Dear friend, we salute you on your ninetieth birthday. We offer prayers to God for you. We wish you many more years of priestly witness and wise Episcopal counsel. Happy Birthday! AD MULTOS GLORIOSQUE ANNOS!