By Jim Fair
Most Reverend Daniel E. Pilarczyk, Archbishop Emeritus of Cincinnati and a nationally prominent churchman, educator, and author of popular books about Catholic themes, died March 22, 2020, at the age of 85.
“Among his brother bishops, Archbishop Pilarczyk was recognized as one of the outstanding churchmen of his time,” said his successor, the Most Reverend Dennis M. Schnurr, Archbishop of Cincinnati. “They elected him not only president of what was then the National Conference of Catholic Bishops but also chair of every significant committee of the bishops’ conference.
“His accomplishments on the local level in his tenure as Archbishop of Cincinnati were equally outstanding. He unselfishly devoted his entire priesthood to this archdiocese, including 27 years as its archbishop. I have known and admired Archbishop Pilarczyk for more than 30 years. I shall miss his friendship, his graciousness, and his wise counsel.”
Archbishop Pilarczyk was born in Dayton, Ohio, on August 12, 1934. After studies at the Pontifical Urban University in Rome, he was ordained a priest on Dec. 20, 1959. His ordination as bishop in 1974 and installation as archbishop in 1982 also were on Dec. 20. His resignation as Archbishop of Cincinnati was accepted by Pope Benedict XVI on Dec. 21, 2009, the day after the 50th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood. At the time he was the country’s longest-tenured archbishop and the longest-serving active bishop. In retirement, he continued to serve generously in administering the sacraments.
The archbishop’s distinguished service to the American church included terms as vice president (1986-1989) and president (1989-1992) of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. He also chaired many committees of the conference, including those on education, liturgy, and doctrine.
Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angles and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued the following statement on the passing of Archbishop Pilarczyk:
“His Excellency Daniel E. Pilarczyk, archbishop emeritus of Cincinnati, passed away Sunday at the age of 85. He was known as a shepherd close to his flock. The Archbishop led during challenging times but sought reconciliation and reform with humility.
“Archbishop Pilarczyk was generous also in service to his brother bishops. We benefited greatly from his pastoral leadership as president of what is now the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops from 1989 to 1992.
“Join me in a prayer of gratitude for the life of Archbishop Pilarczyk as he meets the Lord he so dearly loved and served.”
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