I learned on Tuesday last week that one of our retired priests, Fr. Joseph Daley died. Fr. Daley retired from St. Anthony in Cody July 1, 2003 for health reasons. Even in retirement, he was fiercely committed to making the weekly trip to his beloved people of St. Theresa in Meeteese. He clearly wished to ‘die with his boots on.’ As all who knew him know, he had a very strong will!
Last night, the little church of St. Theresa in Meeteese was overflowing with parishioners and friends from both Meeteese and Cody who came to pay their final respects. Later this morning the People of God will gather for one last time with Fr. Daley to celebrate the Mass of Resurrection at St. Anthony in Cody, and we will then take Father to his final place of rest, next to his parents here in Cody.
Fr. Daley was born and raised in New Jersey, along with one brother, Bob. He entered the Society of the Catholic Apostolate and was ordained a priest April 20, 1968. The Society was founded by St. Vincent Pallotti. (1795-1850) St. Vincent desired to inspire people of all walks of life to grow in faith and to build the Kingdom of God. Thus, Fr. Daley carried this basic charism with him to Wyoming when he came to us in 1977. Fr. Daley was incardinated as a priest into the Diocese of Cheyenne April 21, 1979.
In my visits with Fr. Daley during the past three and a half years, he spoke of his great desire to see the spirit of the Second Vatican Council fully instilled in the life of the Church. The best I could tell, that translated into a desire to see every member of the Church discover their specific vocation, to vibrantly live their faith and life in Christ, and find their legitimate place in the life and service of the Church.
Fr. Daley had a sharp intellect which translated into a natural and gifted homilist. Several people have shared with me how they appreciated his preaching and ability to connect the Scripture with their daily life and struggles.
As I only knew Fr. Daley these past few years, what was most notable to me is the pain that he endured on a daily basis. His chronic illness was very painful. We will never know in this life how God permitted such suffering to work in the life of Fr. Daley, nor will we know the manner in which Fr. Daley ‘translated’ that suffering through his own spiritual life. All we know is he did not let it stop him from serving the people he loved. That alone was an inspiration to me as his bishop.
Last Friday I received an email from Rocco Palmo, the author of the mother of all ecclesial blogs, Whispers in the Loggia. Fr. Daley and Rocco were regular correspondents. I was grateful to learn from Rocco a few insights into the life of Fr. Daley, and will share here Rocco’s confirmation that Fr. Daley had a deep love for the Church of Wyoming.
I can confirm also the appreciation the Church of Wyoming has for the priestly life and ministry of Fr. Joseph Daley. Rest in peace, Father. May you know the mercy of our Heavenly Father and may He grant you eternal reward for your goodness here on earth.