Most Rev. James Daly, RIP

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I learned only today of the October 14th death the the Most Rev. James J. Daly, DD Auxiliary Bishop of Rockville Centre, NY. He was 92. I grew up in that diocese and Bishop Daly (whose gentle demeanor and soft-spokeness earned him the ironic nickname “tiger”) was the bishop who confirmed me in 1977. In fact, he had only just become a bishop the same month. His first confirmation was, fittingly, for the parish where he had served as pastor up until becoming a bishop but ours was only the second time he had administered the sacrament of Confirmation.

The right-hand man to Bishop John McGann for years, Daly also served as dean of the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington and was in charge of helping decide which parishes priests would serve in. Yet colleagues said he was unassuming and humble, and was happiest being a parish priest.

Daly was born in the Bronx, grew up in Jamaica, Queens attended a Catholic high school, and studied for the priesthood at the seminary in Huntington. His experience as a priest on Long Island started before the local diocese existed. When he was ordained in 1948, Nassau, Suffolk, Queens and Brooklyn made up the Diocese of Brooklyn. Nine years later, Nassau and Suffolk were carved out to create the Diocese of Rockville Centre. In 1958, Daly was assigned to the seminary, where he rose to the post of dean. By 1972, he was named pastor of St. Boniface parish in Elmont. By many accounts, it was one of the happiest times of his life. But the church hierarchy also needed him, and in 1977 Bishop John McGann requested that he be named auxiliary bishop. He eventually rose to vicar general, the No. 2 post in the diocese.

Daly retired in 1996, but remained active, visiting patients in hospitals and nursing homes. He also cared for a disabled brother in the house his family had bought decades ago in Blue Point, where Daly had his first assignment as a priest, from 1948 to 1951, at Our Lady of the Snow.

His coat of arms is based on the Irish arms associated with the name Daly. It has the addition of a scallop shell, a symbol of his baptismal patron, St. James, as well as the Sacred heart, a lily and a griffin’s head. These charges represent family allusions as well as his personal devotions. Unfortunately, I do not have a full color rendering.

He was a kind, gentle and very capable pastor, priest and bishop. Requiescat in pace.

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