Retired Bishop Thomas Daily, who was the Bishop of the Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens for 13 years from 1990 to 2003, died on Sunday, May 14 at his residence at Douglaston’s Immaculate Conception Center.
Daily, a Massachusetts native, was ordained a priest by the Archdiocese of Boston in 1952. He spent eight years at his first assignment, St. Ann’s Church, located in the Boston suburb of Quincy, before leaving in 1960 for Lima, Peru, where he worked with the poor as part of the Missionary Society of St. James the Apostle.
In 1975, Daily became an auxiliary bishop, and a year later was named the vicar general for the Archdiocese of Boston. He became the sixth Bishop of Brooklyn in 1990 after having served previously as the first Bishop of Palm Beach, Florida.
During his time as Bishop of Brooklyn, Daily started a major capital investment program to pay for much-needed repairs to churches and schools throughout the Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens. He also served as the supreme chaplain of the Knights of Columbus, and played a part in Pope John Paul II’s visit to say mass at Aqueduct Racetrack in front of tens of thousands of faithful.
Daily’s work would become overshadowed, however, by the Catholic Church sex scandal that was reported in 2002 through the work of the Boston Globe’s Spotlight investigative team. It was reported by the Massachusetts attorney general in 2013 that Daily, while serving as vicar general in Boston, failed to properly report and investigate abuse allegations against Boston priests. Instead, it was reported that Daily would just relocate priests to other parishes instead of dismissing them from the priesthood, and that the allegations were never brought to the police. The Diocese of Brooklyn and Daily would be named by 42 people who alleged abuses in the diocese in a class action lawsuit in his final year as Bishop. In a deposition involving a Boston priest, Daily expressed regret for what happened while he was vicar general, but said that he was following what church protocol was at the time.
In 2003 when he turned 75 years old, Daily sent in his resignation to the papacy, as is required when a bishop or cardinal reaches that age. Pope John Paul II accepted his resignation, and then Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio was named as Daily’s successor in the Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens.
Although he was retired, Daily remained active in the diocese by serving as a member of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America and as a board member of the Society of St. James the Apostle in Boston and the National Catholic Office for Persons with Disabilities in Washington, D.C.
Daily’s health had been declining in recent years, and he died at the Bishop Mugavero Residence (named after the Brooklyn Bishop whom Daily replaced in 1990) at the Immaculate Conception Center in Douglaston – the Diocese of Brooklyn’s seminary college and home to many Diocesan offices.
In an official statement, Daily’s successor, Bishop DiMarzio, said, “Bishop Daily was a man who personified the Second Vatican Council’s call for a preferential option for the poor. He ministered to indigenous people amidst poverty in Peru, women in crisis pregnancies, as well as new and often poor immigrants living in Brooklyn. He never acted out of malice or to further his own self-interest. At heart he was a missionary. I suspect he wished he could have remained in the missions his entire life.”
A wake will be held at the Immaculate Conception Center in Douglaston (7200 Douglaston Parkway) on Wednesday, May 17 from 2-9 p.m. and at St. James Cathedral-Basilica in Downtown Brooklyn (250 Cathedral Place) on Thursday, May 18 starting at 2 p.m. A Mass of Transferral will then take place at the Cathedral at 7:30 p.m.
There will be a public viewing at the Immaculate Conception Center in Douglaston on Friday, May 19 from 9-11 a.m. followed by a funeral Mass of Christian Burial at 11 a.m. Internment to follow in the bishops’ crypt in Douglaston.