My neighbors still remember the day Bishop Thomas V. Daily came to bless my house. The Bishop and his secretary Msgr. Ralph Maresca walked through the rooms, sprinkling holy water and reciting prayers. We all then sat down to a meal with family and friends.
A neighbor stopped in to give the Bishop freshly baked Irish soda bread. He blessed her pregnant daughter. That child is now 24 years old and has a very good job in the arts and fashion industry in Manhattan.
We still treasure the photo of the Bishop and my eight-year-old nephew sitting on the couch in an animated conversation.
They used to say all you had to do was invite Bishop Daily and he would show up. He was in the sanctuary for my wedding. He baptized my son. When my father died, he was the first to call the house.
Bishop Daily, who passed to his eternal reward this past week, will be remembered as a people person. He loved being surrounded by people and often was the last person to leave the reception.
Msgr. Maresca would have to coax the Bishop to exit because as long as there was another person to greet, he would stand outside the church and wait.
The Tablet’s annual golf outing was named for Bishop Daily during his tenure. He always attended and mingled with the guests. He admitted that one of his great disappointments was never learning to play golf because he so much admired the camaraderie on the course.
He would regale us with stories of how he earned summer money as a kid caddying at a New England club. Every year, he said, Babe Ruth would come to play and the kids would watch in awe as the Bambino powered his tee shot into play.
The first time I met Bishop Daily was at the press conference that announced his appointment to the diocese. I introduced myself to him and he with his big burly laugh said, “We’re going to have a good time.”
I was unsure because he had arrived with the reputation of being a tough no-nonsense guy. That he was when it came to church teaching and proclaiming it in the public forum. He prayed in public for an end to the scourge of abortion. He stood up to politicians, even Catholic pols, who challenged the Church for its defense of life. He spoke out when he was appalled by the graphic sex education plan that was being introduced to the City’s public schools.
But through it all, he was right. We did have a good time. Bishop Daily put his faith on display. He never wavered. He was fun to write about and photograph.
More than anything Bishop Daily was a priest and he always said he loved being a bishop. He couldn’t understand how some prelates felt burdened by the office.
The people of Brooklyn and Queens loved having him as their Bishop as did the Knights of Columbus whom he served as Universal Chaplain.
Bishop Daily was a very special person and we will never forget him.
May he now rest in peace for a job well done!